Saturday, 8 October 2016

"Stick to the roads...

The oft quoted expression that football is "a funny old game" certainly sprung to mind with our FA Cup draw away to Solihull Moors.  We have played both Moor Green and Solihull Borough a few times in the past 20 years.  Both clubs were the typical mini-supported, Midlands cannon-fodder for our the all-conquering big-boys from Rockingham Road.  The sort of clubs whose tiny grounds we turned up to, marvelling at how such places survived, then filling their social clubs and terraces with Poppies red, before leaving with the points / progression in the Cup.

Just over twenty years ago we whupped Solihull Borough real good at their place in the FA Cup to land us the plum tie of a home fixture against Plymouth Argyle in the 1st Round proper.  A game shown live on Sky, showcasing our Poppies heroes on the national stage, as the plucky part-timers played out of their skins against the League giants.  At least it should have gone that way.  In reality, the producers of the telecast couldn't find enough worthwhile footage to fill the end credits, leaving the music playing over a blank screen for the last 30 seconds.

We tussled manfully with Moor Green in Conference North for a few seasons during one of our long-term expulsions from the Conference. Our final games against them came at a time when the clubs were heading in opposite directions.  The Poppies unveiled new signing Chris Beardsley, who filled his boots that afternoon, as Imraan's DRC Locum fuelled all-stars were sweeping their way to a dominant Conference North League title.

Moor Green, on the other hand, had vacated their own ground and were sharing Solihull Borough's stadium.  The clubhouse of which, for some reason, resembled the largest sauna outside of Lapland.  I distinctly remember walking onto the terrace and seeing a meagre clump of Moor Green fans, glumly selling raffle tickets and scarfs from a listing paste table.  It looked like the most abject car boot sale in history!  I genuinely felt sorry for them.  Their club was slipping away from them.  No ground.  No fans.  No future.  And then there was us - Rich as Croesus.  On our way to the Conference.  Football League beckoning?

But, as we know, "football is a funny old game".

The next time I saw such a sad, paste-table sight was coming through the turnstile at Steel Park for the first time and seeing us with the very same set-up!  Wow.  Things can change around quickly can't they?

Fast forward to the present and the picture is somewhat different.  After combining to form the new club of Solihull Moors, and then being a middling presence in Conference North for a decade, they enjoyed a golden season last year and won the division, to take their place in the "National League".

I hardly need detail our "progress" over the same period.... but it leaves us with a hard match, away to the giants of Moor Green, playing two leagues above us now.  "Funny?"  Not really!

....stay off the Moors" 

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