Pointless Newsflash for you all: Up until recently, I had never been to Birmingham.
I’m not entirely sure why, just with most of my friends, family and work priorities spread between‘s North West, Yorkshire, and London, I had no need to go to West Midlands. Nothing personal, just never had the need to go. Besides, Birmingham was close, I could go when I could no longer afford to go to far flung destinations such as Thailand, couldn’t I?
well, yes I could, as this season and the promotion to the Conference North had forced my hand. A trip to Gloucester saw me glimpse the first view of Birmingham from the train, but the trip to Solihull would actually see me step foot in the UK’s second most populace city.
It was alright, only saw the small walk between the train stations, as whilst New Street is the bigger station, Moor Street serves the odd London train. I took a photo of the bullring, and then headed off to Solihull for‘s visit to Solihull Moors.
The second youngest football club in the Conference North (behind FC), Solihull Moors was formed due to the merger of Solihull Borough and Moors Green. The new club took Moor Green’s position in the Conference North and became a solid Conference North side at the level.
After a weak start of the season, Solihull recovered and were safely in mid table when I visited, and were looking strong at home. Colwyn Bay on the other hand, had slipped a little from pushing the playoffs at the end of January. A dismal February that saw a few big losses (and a huge win against Bishop’s Stortford) saw us slip a little down the table. Very mid table. So a rather uninspiring clash presented me on my trip to Damson Park.
I arrived at Solihull Station and was surrounded by hundreds of other fans that were also in Claret and Blue. Unfortunately, the Seagulls doesn’t have a large Birmingham fan club, but instead these were Aston Villa fans waiting for the fan bus to Villa park. There was no such bus for me, instead a taxi ride to Damson Park. Which was lovely, as the chap was fascinated in why I made the journey to watch the game.
I pulled into Damson Park with a warning of the clubhouse being outside the ground. It was, but luckily you can head out at half time. After sitting down to watch a bit of the rugby with a pint of cheap Canadian Lager (unfortunately, as lovely as Solihull’s clubhouse was, it’s beverage choice wasn’t the best), I had an odd conversation with a local in Solihull Moors’ clubhouse:-
“Hey Mate”, this Brummie chap said to me, “who’s that team?”
“Colwyn Bay FC.”
“Never heard of them.”
“Ah this is the first season in the Conference North, we play Solihull Moors today.”
“Never heard of them either.”
After facepalming myself, I received news on the second feature on Damson Park – that the burgers are reportedly the best in Non League. A huge claim. Whilst pie’s are largely eaten at football matches so you know where the best ones are (‘s), burgers usually compete with restaurants, so your tastebuds compete with higher quality burgers. As such, the Solihull Moors burger, whilst not bad, it doesn’t beat the burger I had in Cubs 49 Bar in Chicago, Illinois. After finishing the burger, I headed to watch the game.
Colwyn Bay started brightly, coming off a good win against Bishop’s Stortford, and playing with confidence. But peppering the goal with shots from Karl Noon, Fraser McLachlan and Michael Lea saw saves from Jasper Singh, who was Solihull’s standout player in the first half. Solihull – whilst breaking well – created very few chances, and whilst Colwyn Bay had okay chances, the best came on half time where Rob Hopley, through one on one, hit the ball square against the advancing Singh.
The second half though saw Colwyn Bay struggle to get out of the blocks, and slowly Solihull came back into the game. Although Metcalf wasn’t threatened between the sticks, it was with 10 minutes to go that he was left flapping at air with a sweetly struck shot from Junior English to put the home side ahead. Junior was rather harshly sent off towards the end of the game for a second yellow card, but it was too late for Colwyn Bay to capitalise.
Overall a moment of brilliance decided the result. Frustrating day for Colwyn Bay fans, and the train home wasn’t the most comfortable! Nothing against Solihull though, hope to visit again next year.