TAMWORTH F.C. CLUB HISTORY
Over four score years ago, in the summer of 1933, a football team in Tamworth was just a dream for the lovers of the beautiful game who worked together to set up a new club in the town.
The demise of Tamworth Castle FC left the town with no senior level football club, but a campaign involving a town businessman and the local newspaper 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 now demolished Jolly Sailor pub, and 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 with two league championships and 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 as the 1960s had been kind. Attendances fell to record low levels; The Lamb fell into disrepair and it became a major effort just to keep the club alive. 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 status after a four years hiatus.
The following season Tamworth progressed to even greater things reaching the final of the FA Vase, and, on May 6th 1989 in front of a Wembley crowd of 26,487 (the record attendance for the Vase final at the ‘old’ Wembley), they played out a 1-1 draw with Sudbury Town and won the replay at Peterborough four days later 3-0 to give the club, and the town, possibly its finest moment ever.
The Vase triumph did not crystalise into further success though and manager Graham Smith left the club two years later while four managers in four seasons failed to springboard the club until February 1995 when former Birmingham City player Paul Hendrie with instant results. He turned another mediocre season around and guided the Lambs to within a point of promotion then secured the 1996/97 Southern League Midland Division Championship by a 26 point margin.
The next boost came in January 2001, when former European Cup winner Gary Mills was appointed manager and with the club staring relegation squarely in the face his impact was almost as instant as Smith’s. Firstly he guided the side away from the drop, and then masterminded a Championship challenge in the 2001/02 season, which ended in heartbreaking fashion on the final day at Folkstone. Mills left Tamworth, and the club swiftly appointed his assistant Darron Gee into the hot seat.
Gee and the club as a whole started the 2002/03 campaign with a renewed sense of purpose and were rewarded with the Southern League Champions with 3 weeks left of the season. It could have been even better but a storming run to the FA Trophy final, ended in disappointment at Villa Park with defeat to Burscough.
Mark Cooper was then appointed, and fans were rewarded with two fantastic FA Cup runs. The first against Stoke City in 2005-6 was halted by penalty kicks in a replay in the Third Round Proper and a live BBC TV fixture against Championship side Norwich City in 2006-7 ended in defeat. Lack of progress in the league saw ‘Coops’ leave and Mills return soon after and promotion to Conference National was achieved with a game to spare in 2008-09 .
When Mills departed former Nottingham Forest star Des Lyttle, took hold of the reins but with relegation a distinct possibility stepped down with four games to go and the then academy coaches including Vase winner Dale Belford stepped up to help and it went to the wire, but a nervy televised victory ensured survival with 14 minutes of the season remaining.
Prior to his sad passing in December 2011, long serving Club President Len Gendle predicted the FA Cup victory at Gateshead and The Lambs went on to be narrowly defeated by Premiership side Everton in a 3rd Round match at Goodison Park as boss Marcus Law rebuilt his squad but found the going increasingly tougher and in early January 2013 assistant Dale Belford was asked to step in as caretaker manager once again and rescue the club from the drop with the highest ever top flight points haul.
Belford continued as permanent boss into the 2013-14 season, although the side was ultimately relegated from the Conference Premier so the successful former Wrexham player manager Andy Morrell and assistant Mike Fowler came to the club, taking them on a World beating 12 game winning run whilst narrowly missing out on the playoffs in in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
During the summer break of 2016 Chairman Bob Andrews oversaw the multi-million pound replacement of The Lamb’s 80+ year old grass pitch with a state of the art artificial 3G surface, one of only a handful of similar surfaces in the top two tiers of the non league pyramid at the time.
It completely changed The Lamb from being a one team venue into a facility for the club’s burgeoning youth and academy sides as well as bringing the community into a popular hub for local football for all abilities across all ages.
Despite the progress being away from the first team, inconsistent results and performances conspired to relieve Morrell of his duties in February 2018. Following relegation to step 3 of the non league pyramid at the end of the season, assistant Fowler took the reins into 2018-19 as Head Coach alongside newly appointed Director of Football, Tim Harris, who had tasted success with home town club Gloucester City and promotion to the Football League with Newport County. However, after defeat in the FA Cup to local rivals Hednesford, Fowler stepped down and Harris steadied the ship for one game. Former Boston United and St Neots Town boss Dennis Greene was appointed in September 2018 but mustered only 7 wins in 28 games and was sacked in January 2019.
U21s boss and Lambs Legend Gary Smith and former Mansfield and Guiseley coach Andy Danylyszyn took the reins, turned results around and with the additional experience of Thomas Baillie, rebuilt the squad to their own liking for the 2019-20 season.
The side we on to perform superbly, making a fine run in the FA Cup in the process. They achieved one of the highest points per game tally’s in the club’s history and although in second place when the season was endeddue to the Coronovirus outbreak, they were in top spot on points per game, with one game in hand.
Smith, Danylyszyn and Baillie pledged, alongside many of the squad, to try again in the same vein in 2020-21 and we all hope for more of the same in 2020-21, while keeping everyone safe and well in the process.