With the football season over prematurely due to the Coronavirus Pandemic I’m in the unusual position of actually having this blog up to date! So to keep the content coming, and for something to do, I’ll do some old grounds and games where there’s a story to tell.
Monday 19th January 2009 ko 19.45
WORCESTER CITY 0
NEWPORT COUNTY 0
I suspect this piece will produce just one or two reactions. Those who visited St George’s Lane will go slightly misty-eyed and remember what a wonderful ground it was. Those who didn’t manage to get there will no doubt from the groundhopper’s affliction of wishing they could turn back time.
Worcester City were founded in 1902 as a merger between Worcester Rovers and Berwick Rangers, which I hasten to add is nothing to do with the English club that plays in Scottish football! The new club played at St George’s Lane from 1905 to 2013, and reflected the fact that the club were founder members of the Alliance Premier League in 1979. This is the ground where in 1959 over 15,000 watched Southern League Worcester knock out then 2nd Division Liverpool in the FA Cup 3rd Round. 17,000 watched them lose to Sheffield United in the next round.
What happened since 2013 has been nothing short of a tragedy. The club sold St George’s Lane for housing in order to fund a new stadium at Nunnery Way but there was both insufficient funds and I suspect will from the authorities and so the club ended up sharing at stadiums that got gradually featured fewer facilities as time went on.
They spent 2013-16 at Kidderminster Harriers Aggborough, then from 2016-20 at Bromsgrove Sporting’s Victoria Stadium, but will move to the Worcester FA ground at Claines Lane for next season. You may remember the ground from when Archdales 73 played there before folding in 2013, the ground is currently being used by Worcester Raiders FC.
But back to Worcester City. My thought when it became clear that St George’s Lane was going to be lost was for the club to share at Worcester RUFC’s Sixways Stadium. That would have kept the club in the city and got more use from a fine facility, but rugby union does seem generally to happy to share at football grounds but doesn’t seem to like the converse, and yes the irony of Newport County being the opposition here isn’t lost on me. If only Worcester City had been treated as well as them.
A plan had been put forward in 2013 to build a new stadium in Perdiswell Sports Centre. The blueprints showed a 4,130 capacity 2 stand stadium, but the idea was rejected by the authorities and refused repeatedly every time the a revised planning application was submitted. All the rejected proposals and rents from groundshres gradually drained the club’s resources with inevitable consequences.
They were relegated from the National North in 2017, but opted to drop 3 levels to the Step 5 Midland League Premier Division. As with so many clubs who get into trouble, once the spiral starts it’s devilishly difficult to stop the rot. I look at these photos and think two things.
One, I really wish I’d taken photos at more than just the one game I attended at St George’s Lane, and that I’d taken more at that game against Newport County. Secondly it’s time the stakeholders in Worcester started to help a proud old club find a home within the city and start to regain past glories.