St. Matthew’s FC

Honours: Division Two Winners 2006

Potted History: St Matthew’s FC started when The Reverend Mike Sanders asked his son in his study if he’d like to start a church football team. His son Andy said ‘yes’ and the rest is history. The team joined the Mercian Christian Football League in 1997. In the first season the team finished a credible 7th (out of 7). The season was notorious for interesting scores (10 – 5 defeat is fondly remembered), for Peter Hart playing (ex-captain of Walsall FC and then local vicar) and for an interesting episode which hit the national press (violent opposition). Many of the players from that era still play such as Jonny ‘Lightning’ Roberts, James ‘Wayward’ Hayward and James ‘Bowyer’ Oakley. Andy ‘Colonel’ Sanders player-managed the team from it’s inaugaration until the end of the 2003-4 season. Since the season 1998-9 the team have played in the West Midlands Christian Football League. Secretaries have included Chris Saunders, Robin Hampton-Cornforth and Paul Brookes. Each have performed this task admirably, with much effort and in their own individual way! The team has also has had a number of brotherly dynasties such as the Masons (Stu, Lee and Neil), Beagens (Steve and Paul), Roberts (Jonny and Ricky), Oakleys (Pete and James), Sanders (Andy, Tim, Jonny) and even a father and son, the Kellers (Simon and Devon). The team has played at three grounds as its home venue, each with similar amounts of success. Aldridge airport was the first (until the changing rooms burnt down) and after a spell at Anchor Meadow, the club moved to the University Campus in Walsall (until those changing rooms also burnt down) before returning to the Anchor Meadow quagmire. St Matthew’s are still waiting for their first honours, apart from the honour of being nearly men. The club still has a strong link with the church and many of its players have been involved in the church in the past, present, and hopefully the future. Current incumbents of the manager/secretary/dogsbody role are Jonny Roberts, James Hayward and Paul Cowley. As well as all playing, they hope to take the club forward to great heights and even the holy grail of promotion.’ – Andy Sanders June 2005.

The Holy Grail was finally achieved and in some style. St. Matthew’s were crowned Champions of Division Two on 1 April 2006 after beating Sandwell United 6-0. They completed eighteen matches conceding just eight goals, whilst scoring sixty. They drew two and won sixteen and won the division by thirteen points. They also progressed to the Cup Semi-Final, getting beaten by Halesowen Zion 2-1 down at the Ryland Centre after having overcome three division one clubs in their group. St. Matthew’s look forward to life in the top league in 06/07. Ed Walker July 2006.

St Matthew’s underwent reconstruction in the 2007 close season with the addition of Martin Nicholls, to give a Nicholls/Nesbitt forward line, the most fearsome in the League. Martin brought a few players from relegated Bilston, namely David Broome and the Swede Mattias Wihlborg to add to an already very capable squad. After a blistering start to the season which saw them leading by ten points at the Christmas break. Clarendon had games in hand but had to win them and had been faltering. It was after Christmas that the roles got reversed as Clarendon never missed a beat and St Matthew’s suffered from injuries and missing players. They were also knocked out of the Cup by St Mary’s at the quarter-final stage.

The team will need to regroup in the close season and lick their wounds to make a fresh start for 2009. Ed Walker – June 2008

2009 started well with promise, beating Clarendon early on. But the season slipped into a bit of a nightmare with the club seemingly headed for relegation. St Matthew’s eventually settled with a very small but committed squad and put some results together, not least of which sticking the spokes in Clarendon’s wheel and tripping them up in their title charge. St Matthew’s finished the season in seventh spot.

2012 – Sadly, St Matthew’s left the league at the end of the 2011/12 season after fifteen years! By this time the team had completely evolved. I would say that the highlight of their existence was the 2005/6 season, when they were imperious in Division Two, breaking the record for goals conceded in a single season: Just eight, which still stands today. They followed this up with a fifth and third in Division One but their last two years saw them drop out of the top flight and finish ninth in Division Two.

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