100 Years Ago: The Yeltz in March 1921
March 19, 2021
The Grove was a very different place in 1921 than what it is today. For one, it was not yet called the Grove. The ‘Stourbridge Road Ground’, as it was then called, was not dedicated to James Grove until eight years later in 1929. But not only that, the ground’s facilities could, at best, be described as basic.
There were no changing rooms; instead, the teams dressed in the Waggon & Horses Pub on the Stourbridge Road. There was also no covered standing area, the first grandstand being erected in 1924 on the spot where the Shed is today. But possibly worst of all was the notorious slope that would not be levelled until the 1980s. In all, it was probably what we might expect from a Sunday league team today.
However, the Yeltzmen of the 1920/21 season did not seem to care much. The squad featured some of the biggest names of the decade: goalkeeper Sam Page who transferred to Burnley at the end of the season; half back and captain Jack Basterfield; full-back W. Partridge; and free-scoring centre forward Bates. The secretary was of course Mr. Percy Rose who had held the position since 1898 and would continue to do so until 1937.
Halesowen had a good run of form in March 1921, a hundred years ago as I write this, in what was otherwise a pretty mundane season. On March 5th, a single goal from the inside right Wright secured a 1-0 home victory over Bromsgrove Rovers in front of 1,500 spectators. Halesowen followed this up by beating Atherstone 2-0 away before a whopping 4,000 people. When the Yeltz returned to the Grove the following week, they again won 2-0, this time over Stafford Rangers courtesy of two second half goals from Kent, the inside left.
This was, sadly, not representative of the entire season. Halesowen finished in 14th place (out of 18 teams) with 29 points and a goal difference of -5. It would, however, be the last time until 1927 that the side tallied a negative goal difference, and the overall feeling at the end of the season was one of disappointment.
While we anxiously await the return of football, I think it important to look back on these Yeltzmen and remember from whom we inherited this great club. The Grove may have looked different, but the pride and footballing spirit was still very much the same.