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Author Topic: Love Walsall  (Read 1411 times)

Online dave.woodhall

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Love Walsall
« on: September 26, 2020, 01:15:18 PM »




You can hate the Baggies, you can hate the Blues, you can hate the Wolves; as Villa supporters that is expected of you but you are required to love the Saddlers. That is the law.

I have no idea whether the feeling is ever reciprocated because I havenít spoken to a Walsall supporter for at least fifteen years, but somehow I rather doubt it. The last one I spoke to did not like our condescending attitude towards them, which I am about to tell you about.

It has not always been sweetness and light between us. In the very early days the two teams from the town were our fiercest rivals when it came to the Birmingham Cup and the Staffordshire Cup. But in 1882-83, when the town boasted two clubs we actually knocked the Swifts out of the FA Cup in the first round (4-1) and the Town in the fourth round (2-1). Both clubs played at the Chuckery but in 1888 and facing eviction they chose to amalgamate. To their eternal credit they chose not to adopt the ubiquitous 'United' name as well they might but elected to remain simply Walsall, full stop.

When William McGregor added a second division in 1892 they were first in the queue but although they were not very successful they were controversially thrown out in 1896 when the two teams that finished below them survived. Thus they ceased to appear in the Football League's fixture list until 1922, when having claims to join either the new third division north or south they were sent north, only to become a yo yo team depending on who from where got relegated from division two.

All this time Walsall could be mistaken for being a Villa team in disguise because they replicated our colours and wore claret and blue. But enough about Walsall for the moment; you expect to read about the Villa. Well in 1930 Walsall made it through to the fourth round of the FA Cup and when the draw was made the inevitable happened Ė Walsall v Aston Villa. The excitement in Birmingham knew no bounds.

The Walsall ground at Fellows Park only held 18,000, not enough to contain even half of our regular supporters. West Bromwich Albion offered to host the tie but with the lure of untold riches Walsall eventually agreed to come instead to Villa Park.

The game attracted what was then a ground record for Villa Park of 74,626 and Walsall, thirteenth in the third division came closer to winning than any Villa supporter is prepared to admit. A goal by Billy Walker after only three minutes seemed the prelude to the expected rout but it took forty minutes for things to calm down when Billy enhanced his growing reputation. Near panic set in when Johnson  got a goal back. It took a late goal from Brown to restore normality by guiding us into the fifth round.

Hero at keeping Walsall in the game had been their goalkeeper Fred Billingstone. Our keeper, Olney, was not considered top notch so a few days later we did a swop with Walsall and let them have centre forward Len Capewell in exchange for Fred. He went on to be our last line of defence until the outbreak of hostilities making 160 appearances between the sticks.

Walsall did not exactly set the world alight until on 14th January 1933 they achieved what remains to this day the biggest-ever FA Cup upset. Fans of Yeovil, Woking and Colchester United and a handful of other minnows may choose to disagree but this is my story, they can write their own. Walsall 2 the Arsenal International XI 0 has reverberated around the football world for years and still does.

Eventually at the end of the war Walsall supporters decided they had had enough of being mistaken for Aston Villa fans and persuaded the club to chang their shirts to red.

I was a regular visitor at midweek matches at Fellows Park from the mid-fifties to mid-sixties. I used to ride on my bike from Erdington, parking my machine at the house right next to the players entrance. Perhaps it was because at the time and to the surprise of everybody in football Walsall were enjoying a golden spell, winning the fourth division before going on to finish runners-up in division three. I was there on 29 August 1961 when 25,000 crowded into a ground that did not hold anywhere near 25,000 for the visit of Newcastle United; 1-0 to Walsall was as good as it ever got in Walsall and they were soon back where most folk thought they belonged and were most comfortable.

Now the truth is that Walsall very much owe their continued existence to Aston Villa. As they set new records for incompetence the powers that be at Villa Park organised a cartel to ensure that when it came to their regular application for re-election the Midland vote would guarantee their continued survival. We may wish we had not bothered as when we ourselves fell into disarray and found ourselves in the third division with them they became of the four teams we couldnít beat, despite four attempts to do so. Not least because at the time they had our FA Cup-winning trainer Bill Moore in charge of their fitness and that he had encyclopaedic knowledge on how to frustrate the Villa. Even Doug Ellis had a soft spot for Walsall because almost his very first act on taking over at B6 was to take a Villa team to Walsall to help improve their fiscal plight.

Villa regularly appear at the new Bescot Stadium in pre-season practice matches and the pseudo-love affair continues in that the ground has become a sort of second home. My one regret is that I no longer have what used to be the most annoying match programme in the league.  So small, that like that of Ipswich Town's at the time, it fitted into the breast pocket.

John Russell



Offline Pat McMahon

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2020, 01:22:00 PM »
Great read. Iím very glad you didnít mention the horrible 3-0 drubbing, complete with Willia Anderson missed penalty, around new year 1971. My first ever away game  and a horrible day out.

Offline nigel

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2020, 01:42:44 PM »
Walsall probably owe their survival to us given the pre season games.
Although the club appreciates it I donít think their supporters realise this.

Iíve heard we take quite a following there, I doubt theyíd get anything near what we take if it were any of the other three!

Offline Footy-Vill

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2020, 01:46:04 PM »
So interesting and enlightening.
Thank you, read with much fascination.

We can mention that Aston Villa Women's team now have Bescott as the home stadium

Online ADVILLAFAN

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2020, 01:47:37 PM »
Villa hate Blues, dislike West Brom and don't really care about Wolves. But have a soft spot for Walsall.
Blues hate Villa, dislike Wolves and don't really care about West Brom. But have a soft spot for Walsall.
West Brom hate Wolves and dislike Villa and don't really care about Blues. But have a soft spot for Walsall.
Wolves hate West Brom and dislike Blues and don't really care about Villa. But have a soft spot for Walsall.

Walsall hate everyone.

Online dave.woodhall

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2020, 01:57:59 PM »
Walsall probably owe their survival to us given the pre season games.
Although the club appreciates it I donít think their supporters realise this.

Iíve heard we take quite a following there, I doubt theyíd get anything near what we take if it were any of the other three!

When Smiffy was their manager he said the friendly added an extra player to their budget.

Offline Fred Crump

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2020, 02:08:54 PM »
Iíve always had a soft spot for them. I have a very distant relative , Colin Harrison, who made a record number of appearances for them over two decades until overtaken by Whacker Walker. It is to my great regret that I never saw him play as my parents hated football and I was still a kid when he was playing. Shame.

Online dave.woodhall

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2020, 03:09:35 PM »
Villa hate Blues, dislike West Brom and don't really care about Wolves. But have a soft spot for Walsall.
Blues hate Villa, dislike Wolves and don't really care about West Brom. But have a soft spot for Walsall.
West Brom hate Wolves and dislike Villa and don't really care about Blues. But have a soft spot for Walsall.
Wolves hate West Brom and dislike Blues and don't really care about Villa. But have a soft spot for Walsall.

Walsall hate everyone.

Shouldn't that be everybody hates Villa?

Offline IAmTheOneIanOlney

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2020, 04:11:43 PM »
My dad's uncle, Bill Harrison, was Walsall chairman in the '60s, followed by his cousin after Bill's death.

Well before my time, but Dad said his uncle was a lovely man and I think he was/is thought of pretty highly at Walsall.

Offline colin69

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2020, 04:19:55 PM »
I worked with a Walsall fan a few years back and his hatred of Villa was astonishing.

Online Bernie

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2020, 04:26:33 PM »
Sadly I too remember that atrocity. I think it was 2nd January, the day of the Ibrox disaster
Great read. Iím very glad you didnít mention the horrible 3-0 drubbing, complete with Willia Anderson missed penalty, around new year 1971. My first ever away game  and a horrible day out.

Online dave shelley

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2020, 05:05:42 PM »
I endured those four games against Walsall in the old third division. Grr!

Me and my old man were regular mid-week visitors to Fellows Park in the sixties and seventies, always found it a good night out with no pressure.

The smallest programme I've ever seen is the Crystal Palace one they had in the sixties.  I have one from the game we won there 1-0 in 1968, it's about three inches by three inches.

Offline Legion

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2020, 06:41:38 PM »
I used to go and watch Walsall quite regularly when it was affordable and Villa were playing away. Also used to take school groups to the community day sessions (ball boys/girls for the match after coaching on the astroturf) and would watch the game afterwards.

Offline Legion

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2020, 06:45:16 PM »
This bloke was a nutter:


Offline rougegorge

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Re: Love Walsall
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2020, 07:14:12 PM »
Don't have anything against Walsall, but I dont have a soft spot for them either.

Maybe people just don't mind them because they are pitching at a completely different level, and our paths hardly ever cross except in pre-season.

 


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