Adventures in Football #40: The Beehive (Studley FC)
February 22, 2022
STUDLEY FC vs. FC STRATFORD
Hello, bit of midweek action for you from the Hellenic League division one. I’ve not been to a midweek fixture since mid-November thanks to a combination of harsh weather, Josh moving DARN SARF and Maria being at work. What better date to return than this sensational mirror date. 22.02.2022.
Studley are a relatively new club, formed in 1971, under the name BKL in a Sunday league. They didn’t hit the pros until 2002. So, we’re looking at a club with very little history. They’ve been shunted around a few different divisions by the FA to shorten distances between games. The latest seeing them move from the Midland League over to the Hellenic League for this season, which confused me slightly to be honest. They were in the same league as Worcester City, now they’re in the same league as Worcester Raiders.
A glance at this year’s league table will reveal Studley as high fliers in this league. They’re up there with top dogs Clanfield ‘85 and Worcester Raiders with games in hand! Visitors FC Stratford are no mugs. They’re in P7 just 12 points behind. This is step 10 of the pyramid. The same level that British Airways play at. I’m expecting a small turnout.
Studley are known as the Bees but play in sky blue. Bees aren’t blue lads. Although Brentford also call themselves the Bees and play in red. No logic lads. I was actually late leaving work tonight. Got in, got changed, we jumped in the car and headed off. Luckily it was only Studley. It’s about 15-20 minutes from my house depending on traffic. Despite having to stop to get petrol we got there in plenty of time. Especially as they kicked off late. Non-league, no sense of timekeeping.
On arriving at Studley, the parking is substantial. Plenty of spaces, even though we were quite late. It’s a competent sized car park. There’s also no charge, which is one of the better things about non-league. The entrance to the ground is through a social club (featuring Terry’s bar). On negotiating your way through that there’s a stroll between two massive fences to the actual ground. The pitches either side are training pitches for Solihull Moors. This doubles as their training facility.
At the end is a geezer with a roll of tickets saying “admission” and a bloke with a register taking money. They take our £6 a piece (I’m with Maria, my lovely wife) and we’re in. There’s not much in the way of amenities. The ground is fenced off, like Warwick, and also like Warwick there’s one small stand on the far side. Maria wants to sit down so we take a stroll.
We settle down in row two of the small stand and discover views are limited because the stand is so squat. We’ve got a group of three lads standing to our right, which means when Studley attack we have to lean forwards to see if the shot hits the target. We’ve also got a bloke sat a few rows behind us who is not breathing air but purest phlegm. It sounds so disgusting that I manage to convince Maria to go and stand behind the goal for the second half.
There’s no chance in hell this linesman passes the Premier League’s fitness test. Just saying. We’re in between the two dugouts and the Studley manager is quite vocal about literally everything. He’s running an in-game coaching session. From the stand I get to check out the surroundings. We’ve got fences all around the ground with tall trees behind the goal to our right. We get to see the ball clear just about every fence in the ground during the course of the game. Above us are eight floodlights. All quite small with a few bulbs in each. It’s adequate and doesn’t look impressive from a distance.
Studley are one of the better sides in this league and demonstrate it early on. Sean Brain leaves his marker on the deck with a smart turn and rifles it past the keeper. 1-0 Studley! Come on the Bees!
Studley continue to pile pressure on, especially from corners and one of them drops to Jake Donnelly who makes it 2-0. Two players catch my eye. “Jacko” the Studley left winger, who has silky smooth ball skills and does a bunch of stepovers right in front of us. Maria is suitably impressed. He causes mayhem a few times and was good value for a goal, which never came. Another fellow I enjoyed watching was “Big O”, a gigantic striker who came off the bench. Always showing for the ball, good movement and positioning. Sadly his passing ability showed why he plays in Hellenic League Division 1. Keep at it though mate, you’ll get there.
A particularly non-league thing was the players walking back down the same stretch of pathway with fencing either side. Here’s the Studley #8 overtaking my wife. The long walk from clubhouse to pitch made us misjudge the start of the second half. I’m completely blaming my wife for this because she went to the toilet. We could see Sean Brain fire home Studley’s third but at quite the distance and through mesh fencing. I should probably mention that by this point FC Stratford were playing at considerable disadvantage due to their goalkeeper having been substituted due to injury. With no keeper on a bench one of the outfield players went in goal. That was at 2-0 and he did well to keep the scoreline down, including turning a decent free kick around the post.
Minus points here. 4G pitch and goals on wheels. Not for me.
In the second half we stand behind the FC Stratford goal anticipating an avalanche of goals. It doesn’t happen. The plummeting temperatures have put both sets of players off. It was quite warm in the first half but by 75 minutes I can see my own breath, can’t feel my toes and I’m considering an early trip down the A38.
We stick it out to the end and Studley win 3-0. The game definitely petered out in the last 15-20 minutes. Hanging around near the exit allows us a swift departure from the car park and I’m back home by 10.15pm. As I type this my feet are still cold. A reasonably fun night out anyway in spite of the temperature. I’m working at the weekend but I’m keen to rack up some numbers before the season ends so I’ll be back next mid-week with a trip to Fratton Park, Portsmouth. Can’t wait!