Research has discovered that the original Rushall Olympic Football Club was founded at least three years earlier than had previously been thought - with editions of local newspapers found to contain match reports about the Olympic dating back to the 1893-94 season. At this time the club were a very useful junior team who played only friendly matches, but they did go on to join the Cannock & District Football League for the start of the 1895-96 season, finishing as runners-up – before later going on to become members of the Junior (winning the Championship in 1903-04), Amateur, Parks and Senior sections of the Walsall & District League.
However, even earlier records have indicated that football in the village of Rushall was already being played on a regular basis at least 20 years prior to that time and in fact the opening game for the newly formed Walsall Town team was against a Rushall side at the Chuckery Ground, Walsall on the 3rd October 1874. Indeed, so many players turned up that it was decided to field a 15-a-side format, with the surplus Walsall men being "loaned" out to make up the Rushall team. Rushall, with that extra slice of experience, won the game 3-1, although some argued that the game should have finished 2-2 as one of the Rushall goals was scored by a Walsall player!
As research continues, the early years of Rushall Olympic will slowly be uncovered, but it is known that a thriving club certainly existed just after the First World War, up until the mid-1930's. During this period the team (many of whom worked at the local Aldridge pit) played on the field behind the Miners Arms Public House in Rushall - changing in the pub and enjoying a pint after the game. The team, then playing in old gold and black stripes, was a "good 'un", and won various honours along the way, including: the 1919-20 Lichfield & District League Championship in the first full season following the Great War; the Walsall Charity Cup in 1920-21 (playing the semi-final in the morning and the final in the afternoon), 1921-22 and jointly in 1922-23; the Walsall & District Parks League Championship and Senior Cup double of 1924-25; and the Walsall Junior Cup of 1935-36 - all prior to the club disbanding sometime prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.
In 1951, a few local lads - John Edwards, Des Hyde and Graham Wiggin, decided it was high time that football made a return to the village. They approached George Hunt, the proprietor of a local fish and chip shop, for permission to use his premises as their headquarters - which was agreed to and Rowley Place was decided upon as the Pic's home ground. Other local players soon joined, including Don Griffiths, Eric Handley, Sid Yates, Wilf Trow and Ernie Lamb. Sid Whitehouse became their trainer and Jim Trow and Mr Evans joined as committee members. With the help of George Hunt, a playing strip of red and white striped shirts was purchased and entry was gained into the Second Division of the Walsall & District Amateur League, where the team soon began winning trophies.
In 1952, Ernie Lamb became the Club Secretary and Arthur Steed (later to become Chairman) joined as trainer; local bookmaker Jim Edge became President; and the headquarters were moved to Rushall Labour Club. Following suggestions from local people with memories of the pre-war club, it was finally decided to revert back to an old gold and black strip - the clubs original colours. The Olympic were back in business.
After winning the Walsall & District Amateur League Second Division Championship in 1952-53, and later the First Division Championship in 1955-56, the club eventually gained promotion into the strong Staffordshire County League (South) for the start of the 1956-57 season - and made an immediate impact by winning the Second Division title at the first attempt. Following promotion into the First Division, the club later won three back to back Championships between 1960 and 1963 - but Rushall Olympic's real glory season came in 1964-65 when the club clinched the Staffordshire County League (South) First Division Championship for the fourth time in five years and also won the Lichfield Charity Cup, the Sporting Star Cup and the Walsall Senior Cup.
The club continued to succeed in the Staffordshire County League (South), but failed to emulate its unrivalled success of the 1950's and 60's. However in 1975, in order to take a giant step forward and gain a higher league status, the club decided to move three miles away to the Aston University Sports Ground, just off the main A34 Walsall to Birmingham road. Unfortunately, football, after many decades, had left the village - but it was soon to return thanks to Olympic's magnificent seven, namely: Brian Greenwood, Mick Clayton, Graham Wiggin, Ray Wiggin, Johnny Edwards, Brian Humphries and Trevor Westwood; who enlisted the help of Councillor Dick Arkell to obtain the lease of some land in Daw End, Rushall, where trees had to be moved, holes dug, and some filled in, until the new Dales Lane ground was officially opened on Sunday 14th August 1977. The club were then accepted into the West Midlands (Regional) League in 1978, and in their first season they finished in a very creditable fourth place in the First Division. The 1979-80 campaign then saw the club go on to win the First Division championship by a massive 16-point margin and gain richly deserved promotion to the Premier Division.
During the 1980's and 90's the club enjoyed fourteen seasons of moderate success in the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division, with a highest finish of fifth place achieved in season 1988-89 and a League Cup Final appearance in 1982. However, time moved on, and for the start of the 1994-95 season the club began a new era when it was named as one of the twenty founder members of the Midland Football Alliance. Unfortunately, the first four seasons of Alliance football proved to be somewhat traumatic for the club with final placings of 18th, 12th, 16th and 16th achieved under five different managerial regimes. However, despite these set-backs, in September 1997 the Olympic were delighted to be able to persuade John Allen, Hednesford Town's then Assistant Manager, to join the club as their new First Team Manager who immediately went on to completely revamp the team and gave the club, as a whole, a much needed impetus.
The turning point in the clubs fortunes finally came during season 1998-99 when they finished in a very creditable 7th place, while the following season saw the Pic's take 7th place for the second consecutive season, but with a much improved points tally. The club also won their first piece of silverware for exactly twenty years when they defeated the then Southern League club Rocester at Bescot Stadium in a dramatic penalty shoot-out to lift the prestigious Walsall Senior Cup for the first time since 1965.
Season 2000-01 saw the Pic's surpass all expectations as they just missed out on promotion to the Southern League Western Division by ending the campaign as Midland Football Alliance Runners-Up to promoted Stourport Swifts by the narrowest margin of one single goal. However, during season 2001-02 Manager John Allen moved upstairs to take on the role of club Chairman, while his assistant Kevin Hadley took over and Olympic once more ended the campaign with silverware as the club won the Midland Football Alliance Cup for the first time by defeating Barwell after extra time, in addition to completing the Alliance season in a respectable 5th position.
The club made further progress during season 2002-03 as they went on to record their best ever Alliance campaign, registering their highest ever number of victories and most points achieved by the club, as they finished as runners-up to Stourbridge. Disappointingly, their efforts both on and off the pitch were still not enough to attain their long term goal of Southern League football when the Pic’s were denied a promotion place at the eleventh hour after a crucial vote went narrowly in favour of former Southern League club Yate Town.
August 2003 saw the return of John Allen into the management hot-seat after the club decided it needed a change of direction and subsequently parted company with Kevin Hadley and his coaching staff. The club were then able to enter a period of financial consolidation in order to concentrate on ground improvement work during summer 2004 that saw the construction of a Conference standard dressing room complex at Dales Lane. However, even working under such constraints he was still able to guide his charges to the 2003-04 Midland Football Alliance Cup Final, which eventually took place in August 2004, although his side were ultimately defeated 3-1 after extra time by Stratford Town.
To focus firmly on the task in hand John Allen decided to step down from the joint role of Chairman at the end of season 2003-04 and was now more determined than ever to make a sustained championship challenge in his bid to finally take the club into the higher reaches of non-league football. Indeed, after 7 seasons of trying “Mr Rushall” irrefutably delivered the club’s ultimate goal as he led his side to the 2004-05 Midland Football Alliance Championship with 3-weeks to spare and by a commanding 7-point margin.
Following an anxious 4-week wait the Football Association eventually decreed that Olympic’s dream had come true as they secured automatic promotion into the Southern Football League Division One West for the first time in their history. To round off what was undoubtedly the best ever season witnessed at Dales Lane, Rushall’s Reserve Team also completed a superlative league and cup double by clinching the Midland Football Combination Reserve Division Championship and Challenge Trophy.
The 2005-06 campaign saw the Pic’s claim an excellent 10th place finish during their Southern Football League debut, while they also lifted the coveted Staffordshire Senior Challenge Cup for the first time in the clubs history by defeating Stoke City by a single goal at the Britannia Stadium. Meanwhile, the Reserve Team also retained the Midland Football Combination Reserve Division to complete a season that was a marvellous epitaph to John Allen who then stepped down from his managerial role due to increased business commitments and was replaced by the former Bloxwich United, Blakenall and Bromsgrove Rovers boss Bob Green. However, the new managerial reign lasted only 6 pre-season games during summer 2006, before John Allen was forced to return back to the hot seat in August 2006, quickly followed by former Semi-Professional England International Joe O’Connor in October 2006.
Following a sequence of defeats leading into the New Year period the Pic’s decided upon a fourth managerial change in five months when former Halesowen Town manager Paul Holleran was handed the task of maintaining the club’s Southern League status in January 2007. The new man at the helm eventually led Rushall to a comfortable 15th place finish and the Pic’s also reached the Staffordshire Senior Challenge Cup Final for the second season running, but a weakened side due to player ineligibility were comprehensively defeated by Kidsgrove Athletic at Port Vale’s Vale Park.
The 2007-08 campaign was an excellent one for the Pic’s in Southern Football League Division One Midlands as Paul Holleran guided his charges to a promotion play-off position. Unfortunately, the dream of Premier Division football was not to be realised as Rushall narrowly lost out to runners-up Leamington in the Play-Off Semi Final, but the seasonal statistics were impressive to say the least. From the 40 games of the campaign Olympic eventually secured 5th position with 23 victories and as a side conceded only 23 goals in the process, courtesy of keeping 23 clean sheets in the league and 32 in total from 59 games.
The success was undoubtedly built around almost unrivalled meanness within the defensive ranks that was only bettered in this and higher levels of football by, none other than Manchester United in the Barclays Premiership! Away from league action the Pics competed in a titanic 18 cup games, with a best ever Football Association Challenge Cup run to the Fourth Round Qualifying stage (with the agony of a 6-0 defeat at former Football League York City) and a best ever Third Qualifying Round appearance in the F.A. Trophy were also very much amongst the tremendous highs of the season.
May 2008 saw the Pics presented with a new challenge when in an incredible turn of events, the Football Association Leagues Committee met to decide on the allocation of clubs for Steps 1 to 4 of the National League System campaign – which resulted in the club being moved across the non-League pyramid into the Northern Premier Football League First Division South for the 2008-09 campaign.
The Pics debut campaign in the northern section of the non-League pyramid proved to be an extremely successful transition as they repeated the feat of twelve months earlier and reached the promotion play-off’s with another 5th place finish. Unfortunately, they suffered once more disappointment after this time losing by a single goal to runners-up Belper Town in the Play-Off Semi Final. However, Rushall did finish their campaign on a high note by claiming the Walsall Senior Cup for the first time in nine years as they grabbed a nail-biting 2-1 victory against Tipton Town at the Banks’s Stadium in front of 550 spectators.
Dramatic developments towards the end of May 2009 saw manager Paul Holleran step down from his role due to a combination of work commitments and inevitable financial restructuring within the club as a result of the credit crunch and only days later was replaced by former Pics player Neil Kitching who returned to Dales Lane from a managerial role at Coleshill Town he had occupied since November 2008. During the 2009-10 campaign the Pics led the First Division South table in both October and January, but they eventually faded out to a 12th place finish, while a second consecutive Walsall Senior Cup Final appearance ended in disappointment with a single goal defeat to lower league Bloxwich United AFC at the Banks’s Stadium.
Summer 2010 saw a further cut in the playing budget as senior player Nick Amos took on the role of player-assistant manager, while Ian Cooper returned to the fold to take up the position of player-coach. However, the backroom reshuffle paid immense dividends as Olympic finished in a best-ever 3rd place in the Evo-Stik League First Division South table with a game to spare and claim a place in the Promotion Play-Off’s for the third time in four seasons.
After accounting for Brigg Town 3-0 at Dales Lane in the Semi-Final they gained home advantage in the Final, where a superb battling display from Rushall saw them surpass all expectations and claim fully deserved promotion to Step 3 of the non-League pyramid for the very first time in their history following a stupendous 2-0 victory against Grantham Town in front of 751 spectators. The Pics also ended a truly memorable campaign with more honours by winning the Walsall Senior Cup for the second time in three years at the Banks’s Stadium, while manager Neil Kitching received a hugely deserved personal honour to crown a brilliant season by being named as the Evo-Stik League “First Division South Manager of the Month” for April/May 2011.
Rushall’s 2011-12 debut campaign in the Evo-Stik League Premier Division was nothing short of an outstanding success as they gamely battled away to an excellent 8th place finish, leaving many high-profile teams with far healthier budgets firmly in their wake – but were ultimately some 11 points shy of the promotion play-off zone. The Pics were also heavily involved in cup action, reaching the finals of The Doodson Sport (League) Cup, Staffordshire Senior Cup and Walsall Senior Cup – but were unfortunately only successful in the latter, triumphing for the third time in four seasons.
Last season Olympic occupied the play-off positions during the early part and latter stages of the campaign, but ultimately fell short of a top five play-off zone finish by five points after claiming just a single victory in their final five games and then also had to endure Staffordshire Senior Cup disappointment in the final for the second successive season. However, having once more strengthened their squad further during the summer of 2013 the Pics will again be looking to make a concerted push towards Step 2 of the National League System, while also continuing to move forward as a community club on a sound financial footing and within their model of sustainable growth.