Halesowen Town is one of the oldest teams in the country and claims to have been formed in 1873 although without much certainty. Local historian Norman Jones wrote: “There is evidence which shows that for the first ten years of the team’s existence it was the James Grove Button Factory team and that it adopted the present name in the early 1880’s. The earliest records that the Football Association have on file relating to Halesowen Town F.C. are dated 1882 …”
“I’ve still got a photograph taken of one of the early Halesowen Town teams. It was taken after they’d won the Dudley Hospitals’ Shield in about 1882. The team had been formed out of the Groves’ Button Factory team and most of the players worked at the factory. They played on a pitch in Gypsy Lane then.”
When peacetime returned after World War II, the club reformed. In season 1951-52 both Birmingham & Worcestershire Senior Cup Finals were reached. In front of a 6,000 crowd at Stourbridge, we lost in the Birmingham final to Brierley Hill Alliance but triumphed over Hednesford in the Worcestershire final, played at Bromsgrove. The same season saw us suffer our worst ever post-war defeat when we travelled to Merthyr Tydfil in the Herefordshire Senior Cup and were soundly beaten 0-9.
1955 brought our first major achievement when we reached the FA Cup Round 1 but lost 2 – 4 at home to Hendon in front of a packed Grove. In March 1955, Ronnie Dugmore notched an incredible 7 goals when we won 10-0 at Dudley in a Birmingham League match. In August 1957, we achieved our highest post-war winning margin when we beat Coventry Amateurs 13-1 in the Birmingham Senior Cup.
The 1960’s saw us regularly competing strongly in the Birmingham League. For 9 seasons in succession we scored between 96 and 126 goals in all competitions. Ronnie Dugmore, Billy Hargreaves, David Timmington, David Eades and Eddie Bell were high goalscorers and other club stalwarts included Albert Farrow, Gordon Field, Stan Purvis, Dave Culwick, Mel Adams, Sammy Roberts, Alan Parsons, Alec Wood and Tony Cotterill. Towards the end of that decade, local rivals such as Stourbridge, Tamworth, Bromsgrove and Kidderminster left the Birmingham League and progressed to join the newly formed Southern League while our fortunes went in the opposite direction.
The 1970’s brought a period of struggle for The Yeltz. Twice out of 3 successive seasons we finished bottom of the West Midlands League. At times, the only thing keeping us running was the effort of 'Mr Halesowen Town' - Harry Rudge. Before his untimely death in 1990, 'H' filled every role in the club at one time or other, including player, manager, groundsman, secretary and anything else you can think of. Then suddenly something strange happened - we got a decent team together and started winning things. Manager Paddy Page assembled a squad of promising youngsters, and in 1982-83 we had an unbelievable year. We won the West Midlands League for the first time, as well as winning the League Cup, but more importantly we reached the final of the FA Vase at Wembley.
Our 12 heroes that trod the hallowed turf on 30th April1983 were: Phil Coldicott, Mark Penn, Stuart Edmonds, Mark Lacey, Les Randle, Robert Shilvock, Malcolm Hazelwood, Geoff Moss, Johnny Woodhouse, Paul Joinson, Lee Joinson and sub Don Smith. Despite having already beaten our opponents VS Rugby twice in the league that year already, we froze on our big day and lost 1-0. Not to worry, two years later we were back at the home of football. This time there was no mistake, as we beat Fleetwood 3-1 in the greatest day in the history of the club. By the next year we were getting a bit blasé about the whole thing, as we once again won the Vase by beating Southall 3-0 in front of over 17,000 people, most of whom had come down from Halesowen.
Despite winning the West Midlands League for four years running between 1982-83 to 1985-86, the Southern League wouldn't let us be promoted into their league. They said our ground wasn't up to coping with the bigger crowds of the higher leagues, despite the fact that we were already getting bigger crowds than any teams in the Southern League. People in Halesowen were getting very angry about the whole business, feeling that the Southern League clubs who were voting against us were simply jealous of our continuing success. However, all this spurred the club into completely renovating the ground, erecting the Harry Rudge Stand, flattening the pitch (pictures below) and constructing new terracing along one side of the ground. Finally the Southern League relented and in 1986-87 we were finally allowed to progress up the non-league pyramid.
From 1985 to 1991, Halesowen reached the 1st round of the FA Cup for 7 consecutive years. On 4 occasions we played professional teams, and each time we were unlucky to lose. SOUTHEND beat us 4-1, but were extremely flattered by that scoreline, breaking away in the last five minutes to clinch the game after we had been all over them in the second half. We lost 2-0 to BRENTFORD, again in a very even game. Against CARDIFF CITY, we lost 1-0 to a hotly disputed penalty and were by far the better team, and lost 2-1 to an excellent TRANMERE ROVERS side after taking the lead.
In 1990, we finally gained promotion to the Beazer Premier League by winning the Midland Division with a side that contained several players that have subsequently gone on to play professional football. A record fee of £40,000 was received for Jim Rodwell when he was sold to Rushden and Diamonds FC 1995-96 was the club's most successful season when they finished runners-up to Rushden with 92 points and just failed to gain promotion to the Football Conference. The early nineties were dominated by players leaving The Grove to join league clubs. Amongst those leaving were Dean Spink (Aston Villa), Stuart Cash (Nottingham Forest), Andy Pearce, Tim Clarke, Sean Flynn (all Coventry City) and EvranWright(Walsall).
Season 2000-01 saw the club relegated after eleven seasons in the Premier Division but they bounced straight back when season 2001-02 saw Halesowen win the Western Division title to return to the Dr Martens Premier Division, at the first time of asking under the guidance of manager Brendan Phillips. Then came disappointment with an immediate return to the Western Division despite picking up 49 points. Season 2002-03 saw Halesowen finish 4th in the Western Division to reclaim a place in the newly formed Southern Premier Division. Town enjoyed a highly successful 2004-05 season finishing just outside the play-offs after their best start to a league campaign for 15 years under manager Paul Holleran. They were narrowly beaten at Yeading in the First Round proper of the FA Cup. Success was also achieved when the Worcestershire Senior Cup was lifted for the second time in three seasons The club appointed the former Walsall and Birmingham City captain Martin O'Connor as manager in late 2006.
They came close to gaining promotion in 2006–07 when they lost to Hitchin Town in the last game of the season, which meant they missed the playoffs. In October 2007, the club was sold to an unidentified new owner who then brought in new manager Morell Maison. On October 18, former Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson was appointed as a consultant to the new manager. For the first time ever, the Southern League ends of season play-offs were reached in April 2008. The semi-final against Chippenham Town was initially abandoned at half-time due to a waterlogged pitch but in the replay an Eldon Maquemba strike gave The Yeltz a 2-1 win in a thrilling match. The final was played at Team Bath's ground on 3rd May, 2008 and the university side netted a winner with 90 seconds remaining after a close encounter. So promotion to the Conference was again so near but yet so far.
Expectations were high at the start of season 2008-09, although only a respectable 10th place was achieved in the Southern Premier League. By the start of the following season, ex-Yeltz right back Matt Clarke was Manager but troubles on and off the pitch continued and the club went into administration amidst fans unrest. Godfrey & Graham Ingram took the club out of administration and Matt Clarke worked wonders and the play-offs would have been reached if not for a 10 point deduction because of the administration. Hot-shot Stefan Moore scored 39 goals.
Season 2010-11 saw one of the poorest playing records in the Club's history finishing the season in bottom place, scoring only 24 goals and conceding 107. Shortly after the season ended, the Club was taken over by businessman Steve Lynch. Under the new ownership, season 2011-12 brought an encouraging start with The Yeltz undefeated in the first five league games, including a 3-1 home win over eventual champions Bideford. However, September brought early FA Cup exit at Rocester which was soon followed by a morale shattering 4-5 reverse at Wimborne, where a 4-1 lead was squandered in the last half-hour. An October FA Trophy loss at home to Romulus lead on to a bleak winter for Yeltz fans.
In the autumn Steve Lynch had formed a management team to run the club on his behalf and under the Chairmanship of club stalwart Colin Brookes and Vice-Chairman John Russell, a lifelong Yeltz fan of 60 years. This brought fruition as the last 3 months of the season progressed, the club's improved off-field organisation led to manager Shaun Cunnington being able to strengthen his squad. Neil Barnfield served an impressive spell on loan from Leamington while striker Ben Haseley arrived from Heath Hayes and soon won fans over with 10 goals in 17 games.
Our 2012-13 campaign opened with a very disappointing home league defeat and, when this was closely followed a week later by FA Cup exit to local rivals and lower league Dudley Town, action was taken to replace Manager Shaun Cunnington, who left The Grove having made a very valued contribution, seeing the club through very difficult times. John Hill replaced Shaun with a successful record at Tipton Town, including reaching the FA Cup 1st Round Proper in 2010. At first, John struggled but his fortunes changed and 2013 started with an excellent run of one draw then seven wins. We also finished the season strongly, undefeated for seven matches, and were very unlucky to miss the play-offs on goal difference, finishing in seventh position. Throughout the season, striker Ben Haseley was outstanding. His tally of 42 goals in all competitions was the highest scored by a Yeltz player for 22 years and Ben won the League’s Golden Boot Award.
2013-14 season kicked off with an away win at Lincoln, quickly followed by two successive home defeats within seven days. All at Halesowen then couldn’t envisage what the rest of the season would bring. Our leading goal scorer from last season Ben Haseley missed 11 games due an eye injury but on his return against Brigg scored twice. As the season progressed we climbed the league table and went top. This position we help until the final week, with Coalville close behind and a game in hand lost against Gesley, this meant our last game away at Belper was a must win game for us to be crowned league champions. Two goals from Ben Haseley ensured the three points that crowned us league champions and promoted to the premier league. The Peter Swales Challenge Trophy was added the following week, with a 3-1 win against Curzon Ashton.John Hill added to his squad two players with league experience, Neil Mackenzie and Iyseden Christie.
2014-15 saw us now playing at Step 3 in the Northern Premier League Premier Division with our first game away at Skelmesdale, and were fortunate to come away with a draw. The early part of the season proved to be difficult, adapting to the demands of playing at a higher level, but the FA Cup proved to be a welcome distraction form league games. Most noticeable was our game against Ellistown & Ibstock United were striker Iyseden Christie scored 6 goals in our7-1 victory. This result and subsequent defeat against Guisley gave our players some confidence and we embarked on a run that moved us to mid table.2015 bought a mixed set of results, at the end of the season left us mid table. The highlight of the season was the games home and away against FC United of Manchester and Stourbridge played in crowds over at 1000.
2015-16 continued to see us playing in step 3 football, once again in the Northern Premier League. Having lost a big percentage of players from the previous season both John Hill and his new assistant Matt Clarke, spent the summer rebuilding. We kicked off with a home win against Colwyn Bay, After that bright start, results were inconsistent until September when Halesowen recorded three straight victories away at Matlock and Buxton and at home to Mickleover sports in the cup. November and December saw a return to the inconsistency with only one league victory in those two months. 2016 saw John Hill using the loan system to Halesowen’s advantage with Dan Sweeney and Kaiman Anderson coming in from Kidderminster Harriers and Shrewsbury Town respectively. Our derby against Stourbridge on a sunny Bank Holiday Monday Brought a 2-0 with a bumper crowd of 2107. Halesowen finished the season in a respectable 13th place on 62 points.
2016-17 Saw the Yeltz get off to a slow start with a 2-0 defeat at Buxton on the opening day of the season, a few days later Halesowen picked up their first point of the season with a 1-1 draw at home to Corby, however the following Saturday they crumbled to a 5-0 home defeat to champions elect Blyth Spartans. They Yeltz again were plundering the loan market and had managed to secure the services of Kaiman Anderson on loan from Shrewsbury Town, indeed it was Kaiman’s solo effort that secured Halesowen’s first win of the season at Nantwich Town.
The FA Cup was proving a welcome distraction from indifferent league form having dispatched Coleshill and Belper we were drawn against Nantwich Town again at home on a day that the FA Cup visited the Grove after the club won Club of the round in the second qualifier. Halesowen led through Anderson’s goal before a wicked deflection took the Yeltz to Cheshire for the replay, sadly despite Kaiman scoring again Halesowen bowed out with a 2-1 defeat with a plum tie against Stourbridge waiting.
New Year 2017 saw Anderson return to Shrewsbury as the Yeltz struggled to replace his goal power and fears of relegation were a real worry at times. The usual Bank Holiday games in the Number Nine derby were replaced with midweek fixtures but the game at the Grove on a Tuesday evening still pulled in 2,127 fans. The season ended with Halesowen in 19th position on 51 points.