Ground #: 182
Ground: Cadbury Recreation Ground
Competition: Midland Combination 1st Division (Level 11)
Kick Off: 3:07pm
Cadbury Athletic 2
Carline 45’, Mooney 60’
You have those moments in life where you might catch the image of something, or see something just for a fleeting moment and you think, wow! While I’ve seen many pictures of Jennifer Lawrence since that first glance, for example, and always thought the same, I remember seeing a picture of a fantastic ground at uni. The quirky place of the Cadbury Recreation Ground with a brilliant classic pavilion type building. A ground that had been on my mind for some time (a different part of my mind to where Jennifer lies I might add), was in sort of danger to have no football played on it again for some time soon if Cadbury won the league this season. I wasn’t missing this again, not on my watch.
In 1824, John Cadbury began selling tea, coffee and drinking chocolate in Birmingham before joining forces with his brother Benjamin to become the “Cadbury Brothers”. After going into decline, John’s sons Richard & George took over in 1861 with a new focus on chocolate. The major breakthrough came however in 1878 when the brothers decided to move the factory to the countryside, 4 miles outside of Birmingham. With better access for milk and cocoa to the estate, it was renamed Bournville and George built a “model village” around the factory to “alleviate the evils of modern more cramped living conditions” which included the playing fields. From then, the rest is history with Dairy Milk (1905), Flake (1920) and Crunchie (1929) all being released to take Cadbury’s from strength to strength.
Cadbury’s Quaker roots changed in 1969 when they merged with Schweppes and took a more capitalist venturer approach to business. With acquisitions such as Peter Paul, Cadbury' Schweppes were a key player in the global food and drink industry. However a demerger was announced in 2007 as well as the closure of the old Fry’s Somerdale Factory in Keynsham. Cadbury’s as we know it were no more after 2010 too, with Kraft eventually getting through a hostile takeover to acquire the company. Kraft then split into two, with the confectionery business becoming Mondelēz International. (The name was brought by Kraft employees with Monde being French for world and delez an alternative to delicious – a clear reason why you never let employees name a company!)
Despite the history of the Cadbury brand, Cadbury Athletic were only formed in 1994 and joined the Midland Combination 3rd Division. The club was affiliated with the Cadbury's factory based in Bournville, using the company's logo as its badge and even playing in the Cadbury's corporate colours of purple and white. Despite their short history of only 20 years, the Athletic have been up and down all the way through the Midland Combination in that time, even making the Premier Division in 2005. However, a lack of floodlights at the Rec meant they had to share with local club Pilkington XXX, but played FA Vase and FA Cup football in that time. Going ok in the Premier Division, the club felt the need to drop down back to Division 1 after 2011/12 and finished 3rd in the 1st Division last year as they sort out potential ground problems.
I would politely describe Birmingham as an absolute shithole, however just a 10 minute train ride away is the beautiful town of Bournville, which I recommend a visit to. The Cadbury Recreation Ground is right next to Cadbury World (I had given up chocolate for Lent this year so it would not have been wise to visit) and was really worth the trip. Set in brilliant scenery around the old factory, the highlight of the place is the old, classic pavilion that dominates the place. With some stunning rooms inside such as the Memorial Room and a balcony on the 1st floor to provide an excellent view of the pitch, it is a classic building. With a small terrace area running down the side of the pitch too, it is a far better place than I was even expecting. The pitch at the Playing Fields apparently has links to Wembley Stadium too as it is one of 4 pitches in the country to use the same Northumberland turf that is used at the National Stadium. Go and visit.
On the pitch, Cadbury are doing fine as well and were seeing this game to try and Boost their title chances. (1st chocolate pun!) Before this game they were top of the league, only on goal difference from Aston, but had 5 games in hand over them. They were easily the strongest side in the league being the highest scorers and meanest defence and were just 14 points away from the title, under the assumption that all of the chasing sides won their remaining games too. What made this game even more daunting for Feckenham, was that Cadbury had not lost in the league since August, when they were defeated at Phoenix United. The small village in Worcestershire had their team 9th out of 15 for this clash, but again had games in hand over some of the sides around them and so could cause a few problems for Cadbury.
Every game in the country it seems kicked off at 3:07pm on this date to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster and the minute’s silence was perfectly observed. With the game underway, Feckenham instantly showed the threat they were going to be as an early free kick from them was fired just wide. Content to break up play in the middle of park and then counter, Cadbury struggled at first to deal with this but slowly managed to get some momentum going and should have taken the lead on 10 minutes. A weak header away from a Feckenham defender saw Anthony Clarke put clean through but he fired his shot well wide with a shot befitting of Level 11. The pace of Clarke and Dean Lea were causing the Feck problems as their defence were being to Flake away. (Another choco pun!) It did look however that it would be 0-0 at HT, but right on HT Lea skipped away down the right and while his cutback at first was blocked, the rebound fell to George Carline who lashed in.
You felt Cadbury only needed one more goal to make the game safe as Feckenham hadn’t really resembled an attack force since early on. Lea was still causing the away team problems down the right as he pulled off all sorts of Twix. (I know its a Nestle bar!) Cadbury’s main threat however was from corners as Carline had a header cleared off the line from one on 52 minutes, but Feckenham were to regret giving a needless corner away on 60 minutes. From the cross, Ben Mooney powered an easy header home to make it 2-0 and looked like game over. While Cadbury for the final 30 minutes did try and make it 3, the intensity of the game had gone and it looked like it would play out to 2-0. However, Feckenham did pull a goal back late on as Cadbury went to sleep when a cut back from the left was deflected in. While it gave the final few minutes a bit more interest than there would of been, Kenny Sanders in the Cadbury goal wasn’t tested again. A good win for the league leaders, and certainly wasn’t a Picnic. (Last one I promise)
Cadbury were only needing a few points now for the title as rivals began to lose games in the chase to catch them. They confirmed the title, ironically at Feckenham a few weeks later with a 1-1 draw. In the end, they won the title by a comfortable 11 points and should now take their place in the Midland Combination Premier next season. With a confirmed groundshare at Alvechurch now in place, only Cadbury’s Reserves will be playing here next season. Will the first team be back? Maybe one day and hopefully with floodlights as this place is a real gem.
- Match: 6/10 (fizzled out in the 2nd half)
- Value for money: 10/10 (was free!)
- Ground: 7.5/10 (such a great place)
- Atmosphere: 4/10 (ripples now and again)
- Food: 7/10 (home made rolls and a decent cup of tea)
- Programme: N/A – do issue now and then but not today
- Referee: Tom Staten – 6/10 (did the job fine)