Tamworth


Posted Image Tamworth

History:

The demise of Tamworth Castle FC in 1933 left the town with no senior level football club, but a campaign involving a town businessman and the local newspaper duly set the wheels in motion to form another club, and so Tamworth FC was born. The original ground on which the team played was next to the Jolly Sailor pub, but from 1934 onwards The Lamb became the club’s new home, where they remain to this day. The club played its early football in the Birmingham Combination, switching to the Birmingham League (now known as the West Midlands League) in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the club achieved notable success. Two League Championships were won in that time, along with numerous victories in the League Cup, Birmingham Senior Cup and Staffordshire Senior Cup. The club also reached the First Round of the FA Cup on two occasions, and on the second of those occasions they progressed to the Second Round by virtue of a 2-1 victory over Torquay United at The Lamb.

These were good times indeed for Tamworth FC, but it wasn’t to last. Despite gaining entry to the Southern League in 1972, the club’s fortunes went on a dramatic slide as the 1970s proved to be as cruel to Tamworth FC as the 1960s were kind. Attendances fell to record low levels, The Lamb fell into disrepair and it became a major effort just to keep the club alive. However, in 1984, a consortium of local businessmen (including the current Chairman Bob Andrews) took the club over and set about restoring it to its former glory. The club returned to the West Midlands League and gradually found their feet again, eventually winning the Championship in 1988 and regaining their Southern League place after a gap of four years.

The following season however saw Tamworth go on to even greater things still. The club reached the final of the FA Vase, and, on May 6th 1989 in front of a Wembley crowd of 26,487 (still the record attendance for the Vase final), they played out a 1-1 draw with Sudbury Town. A replay at Peterborough followed four days later, and the Lambs won 3-0 to give the club, and the town, one of its finest moments ever.

FA Vase 1989That Vase triumph should have been the catalyst for the club to move on still further, but surprisingly that expected success never materialized in the immediate term. The Vase winning manager Graham Smith left the club two years later, and four other managers came and went in the space of the next four seasons as Tamworth consistently struggled to finish in mid-table positions. Then, in February 1995, the former Birmingham City player Paul Hendrie was appointed to the managerial hot seat. His impact on the club was instant as he turned another mediocre season around, eventually guiding the Lambs to within a point of promotion. Things were suddenly looking more promising again, and the 1996/97 Southern League Midland Division Championship that the Tamworth fans so craved was won by the remarkable margin of 26 points.

Tamworth’s first season in the Premier Division of the Southern League saw them finish in fifteenth position, enough to consolidate their Premier Division place. The following season saw the Lambs finish ninth, and reach the First Round of the FA Cup, where they came within seconds of beating Exeter City. 1999/2000 saw another improvement, as the Lambs finished sixth and once again reached the First Round of the Cup. This time the Lambs faced Bury and, after a 2-2 draw at The Lamb, they came within three minutes of a famous victory at Gigg Lane only for Bury to equalize and then go on to win it in extra time.

However, the seeds of more recent success were sown in January 2001, when former European Cup winner Gary Mills was appointed manager. The Lambs were languishing in the bottom four of the Dr Martens Premier Division at the time, and staring relegation squarely in the face. In the space of just over a year he turned the club around, firstly by saving the club from the drop, and then by masterminding a fantastic Championship challenge in the 2001/02 season, which unfortunately ended in heartbreaking fashion on the final day. However, just a few weeks later, Gary left Tamworth to take up the post of First Team Coach at Coventry City, and the club moved swiftly to appoint his former assistant Darron Gee in the hot seat.

Having been through the last day heartbreak of April 2002, Darron, and indeed the club as a whole, started the 2002/03 campaign with a renewed sense of purpose, determined not to slip up again and they were confirmed as Southern League Champions with 3 weeks left of the season and also reached the Final of the FA Trophy taking 12,000 fans to Villa Park in the process.
Gee and his squad worked hard to keep the Lambs away from relegation in the club’s first Conference season, using a record number of players along the way, but after emotional scenes at Aldershot on the last day of the season he resigned and joined Mills at Notts County.

The club was quick to appoint Gee’s assistant and former Birmingham City player Mark Cooper as the new manager along with friend and fellow team mate Richard Dryden as his assistant who both worked tirelessly to ensure life in the Conference continued. After a memorable 2004-5 seasonGary Mills returns including victories over Conference champions Barnet and relegated league clubs Carlisle United and York City, 2005-6 started with a mostly retained squad, an increased budget and Cooper and Dryden continuing at the helm. A fantastic FA Cup run was halted only in a replay in the Third Round Proper by penalty kicks against Stoke City at The Lamb and last season a live BBC TV fixture against Championship side Norwich City was the prize for repeating the feat.
However, the lack of progress in the league was ultimately their downfall and the duo subsequently left The Lamb on January 24, 2007. Their replacement was not unknown to Tamworth FC as just two days later Gary Mills was welcomed back to The Lamb, six years and 7 days since he last took charge. Mills and his assistant Gee were unable to stop the side’s relegation despite a valiant effort and quickly assembled a squad of new and old faces during the close season with only one purpose – promotion.

Honours:

  • Dr Martens Premier League Winners 2002/03
  • F.A. Trophy Finalists 2002/03
  • F.A. Vase Winners 1988/89
  • Dr. Martens Midland Division Winners 1996/97
  • West Midlands League Winners 1963/64, 1965/66, 1971/72, 1987/88
  • West Midlands League Cup Winners 1964/65, 1965/66, 1971/72, 1985/86, 1987/88
  • Birmingham Senior Cup Winners 1960/61, 1965/66, 1968/69
  • Staffordshire Senior Cup Winners 1958/59, 1963/64, 1965/66, 2001/02
  • Harry Godfrey Trophy Winners 1993/94, 1996/97

Sources:
Official Tamworth Site

Entry author: Deus