A one-off cup clash or a familiar foe; that’s always the question we’re asking if you can remember a club. So, where do Dudley Town stand then? We all know that Dudley is a town tucked up in the imposing shadow of Wolverhampton and Birmingham. But did you even know they had a football team – let alone one that we’ve come up against in times past? It’s probably fair to say that you’ll only remember The Robins if you’re of a certain vintage. Nowt wrong with that, of course, but it might make for a fuzzier recollection.
Who are Dudley Town?
One of the oldest non-league sides in the West Midlands, Dudley Town formed way back in 1888. This is a bit contentious, however; Wikipedia claims the club was dormant after the First World War and didn’t come back to life until 1928. It’s a technicality we’re not all that fussed about. But it does give us a marker for when The Robins start appearing on the radar of the Football Club History Database. First, it was into the Worcestershire Combination for a successful few seasons. After that, it was Birmingham & District League.
But, again, we have a situation where the club seems to go under just before the Second World War; reappearing in 1946 as a member of the Birmingham Combination. After eight seasons finding their feet again, it was back to the Birmingham & District League. Things now start to calm down, even though the competition changes name to the West Midlands (Regional) League in 1962. In the early 1980s, however, The Robins take arguably their biggest step yet by joining the Southern League Midlands Division for the 1982-3 campaign.
Why do we know Dudley Town?
Of course, the Southern League isn’t a path we’ve ever taken ourselves. Sure, Stevenage Athletic did it. But, in 1982, we were still in the United Counties League. And we opted for the Isthmian ladder when we did take that step up. Four years on, however, we did cross paths with The Robins. The 1986-7 FA Cup Second Qualifying Round draw pitted us and Dudley Town against each other for the first-ever time. For them, it was another chance to try and relive their epic 1976-7 run to the First Round Proper. For us, it was as far as we’d ever been.
What is our record against Dudley Town?
By this point, The Robins had earned promotion to the Southern League Premier Division and had also seen off the challenge of our neighbours Arlesey Town in the previous round. Quite comfortably, too; winning 5-2 at The Sports Ground. We, on the other hand, were a step lower compared to them; now in Vauxhall Opel League Division One. It did mean we had to deal with an extra round too; edging out Milton Keynes Borough in the Preliminary Round and then Spalding United in the First Qualifying Round.
On paper, a Boro’ win would count as a bit of an upset – even if The Robins weren’t in the best shape in the league. And, on home turf, it was advantage Boro’. We made it count as well; an own goal and Martin Gittings sealing our place in the Third Qualifying Round for the first time in our history. It may also be the moment our reputation as a cup team took firm roots. That’s probably pushing it a bit. But we defied the odds against higher league opposition (technically) and got handed a home draw with Halesowen Town. We lost 3-1, though.
Dudley Town: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 1 — W 1 — D 0 — L 0 — F 2 — A 0 — Pts 0 — WR 100%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 2-0 Dudley Town, 27 September 1986
What happened to Dudley Town?
The Robins ended the campaign second bottom of the Southern League Premier Division and were sent packing back to the Midland Division. There they’d stay for the next decade – until problems arose once more off the pitch. A 1988 move to the Round Oak Stadium was arguably the pinnacle of their centenary celebrations. It hadn’t been planned, though. In 1985, their former home was condemned and forced the club to groundshare with many different local clubs until their new home was ready.
Round Oak also provided a financial millstone around their neck; eventually forcing them out in 1996 and into a groundshare with Halesowen. The failure to sell Round Oak meant that, in 1997, the club resigned from the Southern League and closed up.
A ‘new’ club were formed (or re-formed if you will) that same year. As Wikipedia confirms, The Robins joined the West Midlands (Regional) League exactly a century on from when they first entered the competition. Finding a permanent home hasn’t been easy since, nor have some of their league endeavours. Since 1997, they’ve let in more than 100 goals in five different seasons. Maybe that’s missing the point, however. The fact is the club is still around and continues to overcome challenges to keep the Dudley Town name alive.
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Dudley Town club profile