Tamworth: Remember Them?


By Pete H

In two shakes of the Lambs’ tail, here’s the up-and-down story of how Boro’ fared against the team from Tamworth over the years. Not quite a bogey team for us, the Staffordshire side did have their moments at our expense. Then again, we returned the favour too. At worst, we can probably get away with saying they were a frustrating opponent; one that came to define the various highs and lows that we experienced at the Lamex during the mid- and late-2000s.

Who are Tamworth Football Club?

It seems the Lambs owe their existence to a London businessman who moved up to the town during the 1920s or 1930s. Essentially, the man – Michael Flowers – wrote to the local paper in despair at the lack of a local football side in his new hometown. And so the team came to be a thing. To start, they played in the Birmingham Combination; moving into the Birmingham and District League in 1954. This competition rebranded in 1962 – naming itself the West Midlands (Regional) League. And, in a coincidence, it saw the Lambs go on a little run of success.

In nine seasons, the Lambs won the title three times – and came second on goal average twice. There were also some local cup triumphs too. Looking to take that next step, they went up into Southern League Division One North in 1972 after their third West Midlands (Regional) title win. One of their esteemed opponents at the time were Stevenage Athletic too. Sadly, we don’t have that particular head-to-head to hand.

Falling crowds and growing cash concerns started to become a problem for the Lambs. In 1979, they left the Southern League for the Northern Premier League – before returning in 1983. This didn’t help matters, however. Just one season back in the Southern League, the club went back to the West Midlands (Regional) League in 1984 – while also coming into new ownership. After a fourth title win in 1987-8, it was back to the Southern League.

Apart from returning to the Southern League, the 1988-9 season also brought a historic FA Vase triumph.

Why do we know the Lambs?

Coming into the 1990s, the Southern League seemed to suit the more stable, secure Lambs side. Eventually, they won promotion from the Midland Division to the Premier Division at the end of the 1996-7 campaign. And the upward trend would continue into the new Millennium. The 2001-2 season saw them pipped to the Premier Division title by Kettering Town on the final day. That heartbreak didn’t leave too big an impression, however; going one better the following year.

With that, the Lambs secured promotion to the Nationwide Conference for the first time; lining up for the 2003-4 campaign with the cream of the non-league crop. Including us. But this wasn’t the reason for our paths to cross for the first time. On their way to Southern League glory, we’d been paired together in the 2002-3 FA Trophy Round Four draw. You may call it a sneak preview of what was to come the following year, if you’d like. Or you may choose to forget about it.

What is our record against them?

The reason for forgetting about it is because the Lambs humbled us in no uncertain terms. With Boro’ firmly on the rocks at the start of February 2003, new boss Graham Westley had yet to take up his post. Our lower league opponents (at that time) cruised to victory against our relegation-haunted lads; the 3-0 scoreline making it very clear who was having a better time of matters on the pitch at that point in history. But things would be a lot different by the next time we met.

The 2003-4 season saw us register a league double over them; 2-1 at the Lamb Ground and 3-1 back home. Our decent form continued into the 2004-5 campaign too. Boro’ won 2-0 in August, although a goalless draw at theirs in March didn’t do much for our playoff aspirations. And yet there would be another Tamworth goalless draw that season that would do us a huge favour; a final day stalemate against Morecambe that saw us leap-frogged the Shrimps into the top five.

Promotion didn’t come our way and we were back in front of the Lambs the following year. Our 3-1 home win in August 2005 was true enough to form. But they recorded their first-ever league win at our expense in January 2006 (2-0). And they doubled up on that at the start of the 2006-7 season too as Mark Stimson couldn’t buy a win as new Boro’ boss. A 3-0 home win towards the back end of the campaign didn’t help our promotion cause. But it worked out worse for them…

Tamworth: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 11 — W 5 — D 2 — L 4 — F 15 — A 12 — Pts 17 — WR 45%
Our last tango: Tamworth 1-0 Stevenage Borough, 06 February 2010

What happened to them?

The Lambs were relegated at the end of the 2006-7 campaign; four seasons of struggles proving too much to bear. Now, however, they only fell as far as the ‘new’ Conference North. And it’d be short-lived. Two seasons later, they were back in the Blue Square Premier (as it was now called). And their first game back brought them to the Lamex.

We burst out of the traps on the opening day of the 2009-10 campaign; Lee Boylan nabbing the first goal of the new campaign anywhere that afternoon. But we couldn’t see out the game and had to settle for our only-ever draw (to date) against the Lambs. The return game took place in February 2010 and it didn’t go well for a Boro’ side now very much in a title hunt. Ronnie Henry and Darren Murphy both saw red as the Lambs claimed a 1-0 win.

It didn’t ultimately derail us, however, and we comfortably got over the line to leave the Lambs behind in the Conference. And there they stayed for the next four campaigns, even though they continued to struggle. In 2014, the battle for survival was lost and back to the Conference North they went. In each of the next three seasons, they fell just short of the playoffs – suggesting that they weren’t far off returning to the top flight of non-league football.

That bubble was burst in the fourth season, however. Instead of looking to build on near misses that’d gone before, the Lambs plunged out of the National League North in the wrong direction. It took them back to the Southern League for the first time in 15 years. After a mid-table finish in the Premier Central division at the first attempt, any efforts to move back up the ladder have so far been banjaxed by the impact of coronavirus nulling and voiding the competition.

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Tamworth club profile

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