Alvechurch - The Early Years
The earliest mention of a Football Club in Alvechurch dates back to 1913 when a team called Alvechurch Juniors was recorded. By the 1920s, the team were known as Alvechurch Swifts and were playing football on Crown Meadow and using the Red Lion Inn as their headquarters. They were a successful team winning the Redditch Cup and Shield in 1924.
1926 brought the General Strike followed by the depression. The club folded until late in 1929 when a team of young players, resurrected the Alvechurch Juniors name. To be called juniors the average age of the players had to be less than 21. The Meadows at the end of Meadow Lane, had been donated to the village by Col. Wiggins, making an ideal venue for the team. The team played successfully in the Redditch League until 1939, but was disbanded following the outbreak of war.
It took a little while after the war for Alvechurch Football Club to re-establish itself. Several village lads, after demobilisation, went to work at H.D.A. and joined the factory football team, which was a successful club playing in top class amateur football. When the village team was revived it attracted a number of these players. By 1948 a strong football committee had formed chaired by Major Border, with an excellent hard working secretary/groundsman in Frank Bullock and an equally excellent treasurer in George Louch. The president was Harold Norton, a gentleman whose word was his bond and gave support by attending matches and providing team strips.
The club became the hub of village life and a supporters club was formed under the chairmanship of Tom Atkins. The majority of the committee members were ladies, who organised social events such as the Christmas Whist Drive and on one occasion a Carnival with Roy Court and Angela Teague as the Prince and Princess.
The club prospered from the funds raised by these events. Few village clubs at the time could own and use three different coloured strips in a season and what is more to have a committee who ensured that the kit was washed after each match. The level of support for Alvechurch F.C. was such that for a needle match against Feckenham, six coach loads of supporters travelled from the village.
During this successful period matches were still being played at the Meadows, but as this venue belonged to the village no admission charge could be made. A box would be passed round hoping for donations to the club, so when the opportunity arose to move to a new ground at the Guants, the club took the decision to do so. This was a field situated below the Church, off Snake Lane. Hence it was possible to make an admission charge, but when the land was required for building houses a further move was necessary. Mr Philip Palmer sold the field adjoining his house on Redditch Road to the club for £1,000. As a result of determined fund raising, the club was able to raise this sum in five years, this providing a permanent home – Lye Meadow.
In 1955 the club achieved a rare accolade from the “Birmingham Sports Argus” newspaper when it was voted “ in the top ten in the midlands”.
Junior League Clubs, never mind a Worcestershire village team, were rarely given that kind of coverage at the time, if at all.
Lye Meadow - The Glory Years
The move to Lye Meadow in 1957 was the turning point in the clubs history and it began to go from strength to strength. Alvechurch finished runners-up in the West Midlands Alliance League In 1961 under the guidance of Rhys Davies they joined the Worcestershire Football (now Midland) Combination and claimed their first league title the following year. In twelve seasons they won the championship four times and were runners-up on five other occasions. They also claimed the League Challenge Cup five times and were runners-up twice in this period.
The club captured the imagination and enthusiasm of the Midlands in the mid-sixties with the team’s giant-killing runs in the FA Amateur Cup. In the 1964/65 season Alvechurch were the first side in the history of the Worcestershire FA to reach the quarter finals, before losing 3-1 at home to Enfield before an estimated crowd of 16,000. The following season they were one step from Wembley, reaching the semi final, played at Chelseas Stamford Bridge before losing 1-0 to Wealdstone in front of a 14,225 gate.
In their second year in the FA Cup Church reached the first round proper in 1971/72 after the 11 hour, 6 match marathon in the Fourth Qualifying Round against Oxford City. This tie is now recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. However Alvechurch then went down 4-2 to Aldershot in the first round proper, in a match that was the 12th in 3 weeks for some of the team.
In 1972/73 Church became the first amateur side to ever win the Worcestershire Senior Cup – retaining it the following year. In 1973/74 was, in fact the most successful season in the clubs history. Joining the West Midlands (Regional) League, the club won the Premier Division Championship, the League Challenge Cup, the Birmingham Senior Amateur Cup and the Worcestershire Senior Cup. In the FA Cup Church reached the Third Round Proper, going down 4-2 at Bradford City after beating Exeter City at St James Park in the First Round Proper.
In 1974/75, again Alvechurch achieved the West Midlands League and Cup double, despite losing five players, but were beaten in the final of the Worcestershire Senior Cup by a single goal.
In 1975/76 the club completed a hat trick of League Championships and also won the Border Counties Floodlit League.
In 1976/77 saw Church win the League Championship a fourth consecutive time and this was the year the Worcestershire Senior Cup and the Border Counties Challenge Cup returned to Lye Meadow.
The club gained entry into the Southern League for the 1978/79 season and as the only true village club playing in the league finished in a creditable third position.
1980/81 saw another milestone for Alvechurch with the winning of the Midland Division and the Championship of the Southern League having beaten Southern Division Champions Dartford in the two legged final.
The 1981/82 season produced a seesaw battle to retain the League Championship but Nuneaton finished the stronger to push Alvechurch into the runners-up position. During that season Alan Smith gained international honours when representing the England Non-league team and subsequently joined Leicester City. He then joined Arsenal for £800,000 where he gained full international honours playing for England.
It was back to success in the 1982/83 season when having gaining promotion to the Southern League Premier Division, the club won the Southern League Cup following a 7-2 aggregate win against Waterlooville. The club achieved it’s highest Southern Premier league finish in 1985/86, finishing 4th.
Following the demise of benefactor Philip Palmer and the president Alan Wiseman, the club were relegated to the Midland Division of the Southern league at the end of the 1989/90 season, and there began a gradual decline. Geoff Turton of the Rockin’ Berries pop group stepped in to keep the club alive aided by the sale of Andy Comyn to Aston Villa for a club record fee of £30,000
At the end of the 1991/92 season, the club were relegated to the WMRL Premier Division. Financial speculators gained control of the club in 1992 resulting in closure the following November 1993.
In 1994 a dedicated band of supporters resurrected the club as Alvechurch Villa, rebuilding the seated stand and refurbishing the clubhouse to gain admission to the Midland Combination Premier Division, finishing in fifth position in the league and beaten finalists in the Smedley Crook Cup. The team went onto reach the League Cup Final the following season, only to lose out to League Champions Bloxwich Town.
In 1996 the club reverted back to its original name and became simply, Alvechurch F.C.
The next few seasons were a struggle but the 2000/01 season ended with clubs first trophy since being reformed, when the Smedley Crook Cup was won.
Season 2001/02 introduced the management duo of Andy Hibbert and Neil Bryan, after a management and player exodus. The club struggled through the season, just escaping relegation finishing 20th. The board kept faith however and season 2002/03 witnessed Church’s best season in 20 years with the League and Cup double, winning the Midland Combination Premier League and Challenge Cup, a feat last completed in 1971/72. At the end of the season, Church where promoted into the Midland Football Alliance.
The MFA years
In season 2003/04 the Worcestershire Senior Urn was won for the first time and then retained the following season.
Season 2006/07 brought further success when the Worcester Infirmary Cup came to Lye Meadow for the first time, which was then retained the following year 2007/08.
A double success was achieved that season with The Worcestershire Senior Urn returning to Lye Meadow for the third time.
In season 2009/10 Church reached their highest league position since reforming by finishing 7th in the Midland Football Alliance. In the cup the Worcestershire Senior Urn was won for the 4th time of asking and the final of the Birmingham Senior Cup was reached, falling to a stoppage time winner against Nuneaton Town.
Season 2010/11 proved to be a tumultuous one – with three sets of managers running the first team throughout the campaign. Church’s lowest MRA finish resulted in a run of poor results leading up to the end of the season could have seen the club in relegation trouble – but just enough points had been secured in the first half of the campaign proved sufficient to maintain league status.
2011/12 saw a new management team in place, with Graham Scott/ Vaughan Pearshouse taking over the hot seat. Finishing 13th, they reached the final of the Worcester Senior Urn, where they lost 3-2 to Bewdley Town.
2012/13 the club finished 11th, following the appointment of Dean Holtham as manager in September, and won the Worcester Senior Urn, defeating Pershore Town on penalties after drawing 1-1 after 90.
2013/14, the club finished 13th, after their best ever start to a MFA campaign and reached the 3rd round proper of the FA Vase before going out 1-0 to Westfields. The season also saw Dean Holtham leaving in early November, being replaced by Ross Thorpe as manager.
A new beginning - The MFL
2014/15 saw the Midland Football Alliance and Midland Combination Leagues merge into the newly formed, Midland Football League, with Alvechurch playing in the Premier Division. Ross Thorpe was replaced at the end of August by new manager, Lee Adams, who himself was replaced by his assistant Lee Knight in January 2015. The club finished a disappointing 15th.
2015/16 started with yet another new management team in place, with former Tividale, title winning management team of Ian Long and his assistant, Richard Colwell taking charge and bringing most of their squad with them from Tividale. The club amassed a record 101 points and 99 goals scored, finishing runners-up to phoenix club, Hereford F.C. The club also won the Worcester Senior Urn, beating Bromsgrove Sporting 3-0 in the final.
2016/17 saw the club finally win the Midland Football League Premier Division, beating Coleshill Town by six points with 92 points. They have also reached the Polymac Packaging League Cup Final where they will play Hinckley AFC at Walsall F.C. in the final and are in line for a historic treble when they take on Wednesfield in the final of the J.W. Hunt Cup at Molineux.
All connected with the club are committed in their goal to re-establish Alvechurch as one of the Midlands leading non-league sides and to add more chapters to such a proud history.