Hednesford Town. Now that’s a blast from the not-so-distant past. For a while, the Pitmen were right in our faces. But then what? As fast as they came along, they went away again. And it’s not as if the Staffordshire side were keeping quiet about it either. So, it’s only right (we think) that we look at what became a rollercoaster rise and fall for them in the mid-to-late 1990s. We’d say it’s all we think about. But we’d be lying.
It doesn’t mean that we aren’t ‘arf curious, however.
Who are Hednesford Town?
In 1880, two teams – the Red and Whites (also called West Hill) and Hill Top – decided to join forces. And that’s where the story of the Pitmen starts. But it also seems to come to a premature end during the 1937-8 campaign; the club resigning from the Brum and District League and folding. At the same time, a new club – plain ol’Hednesford – came into being and took the old club’s place. So, maybe the story didn’t end after all. Just stalled, maybe.
With Town back in their name from 1974, the Pitmen started to have an eye on the future; lifting the West Midlands League title for the first time in 1978 and putting together a run of decent finishes over the next few seasons. After going close again to the title in 1984, the club decided to take the next step up and join the Southern League Midland Division. Like us in the Isthmian League, that wasn’t enough for them – so they didn’t settle for it.
Why do we know Hednesford Town?
Us being in the Isthmian and them being in the Southern meant our paths could only cross with good reason. And it didn’t happen right away. While we had our literal ups and downs, the Pitmen’s path was more, let’s say, stable. After eight years in the Midland Division, the club were promoted to the Premier Division. The same year we made the Diadora League Premier Division, as it goes.
In the end, we almost marched into the GM Vauxhall Conference together. But the Pitmen took a season longer than we did; winning the Southern League title in 1995.
What is our record against Hednesford Town?
It’s strange how much we had in common with the Pitmen during the mid-1990s. We don’t need to tell you how the 1995-6 campaign went for us. But it went well for them too. They muscled in ahead of reigning champions Macclesfield Town to come third. Our 2-1 defeat at their place in March 1996 could’ve opened the door for Woking to step through. Just as well we slammed it shut after that. The mere thought of the Cards pipping us…
We took four points off them during the 1996-7 season; one in which they made it through to the FA Cup Fourth Round – knocked out by Premier League side Middlesbrough. It was our turn to make the Fourth Round in the following season. But it meant we only took one point off the Pitmen. Our 2-1 defeat at their place (again) meant the only side we ended up beating in December ’97 was Cambridge United in the FA Cup.
After a 3-1 home win at the top of the 1998-9 season with a Carlo hattrick, we then played out a 2-2 draw at Keys Park later that campaign. And we’d end up back there the following year to draw 2-2 all over again. By this point, the Pitmen were falling down the order. From 10th in 1998-9 to 17th in 1999-00, they did still take three points off us at Broadhall Way. It was a faux pas we fixed; winning 4-1 indoors towards the end of the 2000-1 season.
Hednesford Town: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 12 — W 4 — D 5 — L 3 — F 19 — A 15 — Pts 17 — WR 33%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 4-1 Hednesford Town, 02 April 2001
What happened to Hednesford Town?
The Pitmen ended up on a slide they just couldn’t stop. That 4-1 win came against a side who were on their way back to the Southern League; relegated after ending up bottom of the table. And, yet, falling down a level didn’t stand in their way of winning the FA Trophy two seasons later. It didn’t act as the spur to restore them to the dizzying heights of 1996, however. If anything, the road has been a bumpy one since leaving the Conference.
Of course, we say “leaving the Conference”. We mean the ‘main event’. The Pitmen have been in Conference North twice in recent years. The first, for the 2005-6 campaign, didn’t go so well; ending up bottom and relegated after one season. The second? It started with a near-miss in the 2013-4 playoffs for promotion back to the ‘National’. But it ended after a further two seasons in relegation; this time to the Northern Premier League.
For three seasons, they competed in the Northern Premier League without doing much of note. In 2019, however, the Pitmen returned to the Southern League. Time to start that big climb up to the Conference again? Maybe…
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Hednesford Town club profile