Adventures in Football #91: The Valley/Trico (Redditch United)
August 20, 2023
WEST BROM WOMEN vs. STOKE CITY WOMEN (National League Northern Premier Division)
I’ve been putting off a trip to Redditch United, despite it being one of the easiest grounds for me to get to, because I can’t stand Redditch United. I’m sure you know the drill; nearby town has a rivalry with nearby town. So, since I was a kid, I never liked Redditch United. Finally, though, there was a chance to go to Redditch without having to even see Redditch. A perfect solution to the ground I’ve never been to.
Redditch next play Kettering on Saturday. Meanwhile, today, West Brom Women play their first game at their new home for 2023-24. I’ve seen WBAW at Sutton Coldfield, but seeing as they’ve switched home grounds, it’s a chance for a fresh tick. The road sign pointing to the ground is the closest I’ve ever been to the Valley, until now.
We drive up about 15 minutes before kick off and the car park is full. The recommendation is to drive back out to the road and along to another car park just along the road. We park on the road. There was a space. Plenty of people have just parked down the driveway on the grass. The car park is too small for the ground. It looks like a bugger to get out of too. The price today is a crisp five pound note each. Redditch normally charge £12, so that’s a bargain.
This is the main stand. We go to sit in the stand and discover it’s far too small for anything. I literally can’t get my legs in. It’s a children’s stand. I wish I had a tape measure, so I could tell you how bad it was. It’s also a terrible view because it’s so low down.
Across from the main stand is a terrace. There’s another sizeable terrace behind the goal to the right. This seems to be the only area that looks big enough for the size of the club. Everything else is too small and there’s no space in between stands either. All that is either “no standing” or fenced off.
This is the terrace I’m heading for. It has enough elevation that the view from the back of it is ok. There is more terracing on the far side but it doesn’t have as much elevation to it.
Unfortunately, there’s another huge ‘no standing’ zone between the pitch and the terrace. Like there used to be a running track here. So, while we have the requisite elevation, we’re quite far from the pitch. It’s tough to pick which spot is worse around the ground. I considered going to that right side of the pitch but that involves walking all the way around the ground. At the far end, matters are even worse. You have one row of standing and you have to walk around the entire outside of the field to get there. The end of the main stand is taped off and you can’t get into it. Also, just out of shot, at the end of the ‘no standing’ zone is fenced off. So, you can’t even take a shortcut through there.
Anyway, game gets underway, and as you can probably tell I’m not terribly impressed with the ground. To make matters worse, it’s AstroTurf and the goals are on wheels. You might as well stick a big black fence around the ground and have done with it.
The game starts out scrappy but in a moment of magic, Olivia Rabjohn drops her shoulder, dummies the defender and curls her shot into the top corner. 1-0 Baggies (or is it Baguettes? I hope it’s Baguettes).
The referee has a stinker and gives a ridiculous penalty. The defender is caught clearing the ball and somehow he interprets this as a penalty. Hannah George makes no mistake from the spot and it’s 2-0.
The one positive about the ground is that, like Alvechurch, the view is quite pleasant. If you sit in the right spot, you can take in the rolling hills of Worcestershire, which surround the ground. Shame about the massive advertising boards at the far end of the pitch, which wreck the view.
We stand up to avoid the sunlight in the second half, and avoid sunburn, but in our distanced viewpoint we can barely see West Brom make it 3-0. Francesca Orthodoxou turning in a corner from close range. This is about five minutes into the second half and effectively kills the game off. The crowd start pouring out around ten minutes from time. Only around half the crowd remain when Stoke’s #7 (Logan) rounds the keeper and rolls the ball into an empty net for a consolation. The final whistle blows right afterwards and we’re out of here.
FINAL SCORE: WEST BROM W 3 STOKE W 1
Right, before we head out let’s tally up the scores on the doors.
There wasn’t one really. A few Stoke fans had made the journey especially and were the most vocal. They didn’t have much to cheer though. ½*
I can’t argue with £5. That’s very reasonable. Normally that would be a shoe-in for at least 4.5 stars but I feel like it’s a more acceptable rather than exceptional price for lower league women’s football. ***
The game was scrappy and neither team got anything resembling good play going. West Brom had a couple of cool long range shots. But also their free kicks were dreadful. *½
EASE OF ACCESS:
Parking wasn’t much of an issue, and the ground is exceptionally close to the train station. It’s the main station for Redditch too so it’s dead easy to get to. ****
Nothing doing here. I pretty much hated it. The lay out of the ground is bad. The terracing is bad. There’s too much space around the ground not being used for anything. The main stand is a joke. I knew it wasn’t a good ground but to discover how poor it is was actually quite shocking. For the level, it’s really bad. DUD
Apart from St Andrews, this is the worst football ground I’ve ever been to. With Birmingham City rumoured to be on their way back, this could find itself in last place quite easily. There’s nothing to enjoy about it. It’s a dump.