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Wednesday 18th January 2017 ko 19.45

West Midlands (Regional) League – Division One

TEAM DUDLEY 2 (Pinches 11 Knight 90)

ST MARTINS 2 (Passmore 52 Melusio 54)

Att 115

Entry & Programme £2

I live in Oxford, a city that in parts hasn’t changed much in the last two hundred years, even down to the 17th Century burial route that’s now an alleyway. That certainly is in contrast to much of the Black Country where the soot of heavy industry has gradually given way to the service economy. Nevertheless places such as Dudley, Coseley and Wolverhampton still evoke the past even if their raisons d’etre have long since gone.

In purely groundhopping terms this was one of those fixtures where the planets aligned. The weather had been poor, there weren’t many other interesting games on, and Team Dudley had just moved into their new home in the surrounds of Dudley College.

If the club had been set up for Rugby Union then they’d probably been called Dudley College Old Boys, and the relationship between the college is strong, the new ground in Priory Road, is within the college’s grounds, but league official Mark McIntyre had an interesting little fact to share.

There are 3 Dudley clubs, Dudley Town, and Dudley Sports are the others but they both play out of Brierley Hill, so with Team Dudley moving from Town’s Dell Stadium, by default they become the only team in Dudley!

The Priory Road Ground is a typical 3G caged affair. There’s only one viewing area, of about half of one side of the pitch. The club aims to get an “Arena” stand installed to allow for both seating and cover. Apparently should the club progress further the fence behind the far side can be moved back to create further standing. But while it was a little cosy in the viewing area, the club coped beautifully with the larger than normal crowd.

Much of the credit for that should to go to Mark McIntyre. He was the man behind the first Shropshire County Hops and the availability of a programme swelled the crowd, then having hot drinks, and the team line-ups available made both financial sense, and an extremely good impression.

St Martins are no strangers to the artificial pitch, they’re one of three clubs to share the Park Hall facility near to Oswestry. Mind you since one of the other sides is T.N.S. it must be unusual if not unique for teams sharing a ground to be playing in different countries!

We were treated to a good game too, both sides led, with Dudley snatching a well-deserved draw with virtually the last kick of the game. Now one or two hoppers will look at the 3G pitch in the cage, and put this to the back of their to-do lists. That will be their loss, this is a vibrant club and I like many others had a hugely enjoyable evening out. All the best to them, and to Mark, keep pestering me to visit Darlaston!