How fitting that in the year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of England’s glorious world cup victory, we are also celebrating the achievements of Westfields FC. The Spirit of ’66 is still alive and kicking at the club. Several local lads from the Westfields area were so inspired by the triumph that they decided to start their own football team. In the following 50 years, England have flattered to deceive but Westfields have been marching up the non-league ladder and as a perfect anniversary present, they have reached the FA Cup First Round proper for the first time in their history.
The club is managed by Sean Edwards and is overseen by longtime Chairman John Morgan and Chief Executive Andy Morris, who at just 16-years-old was one of the group of friends that founded the club all those years ago. I’m sure the goalkeeper looks back with nothing but pride with the way things have turned out. After starting off in the depths of Sunday League football, the club now preside in the Midland Football League, the game’s ninth tier and can boast former Blackburn and current Blackpool boss, Gary Bowyer, as one of their former players. Their achievement is extra special considering they are this season’s lowest-ranked club to reach this stage.
Nicknamed The Fields, the club play their home games at allpay.park in Hereford (also known as Widemarsh Common). They proudly display their claret and blue colours in homage to English heroes Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, who were playing for West Ham at the time.
The club lay claim to being one of Hereford’s most successful teams and it is hard to argue with them. They began their existence in the Herefordshire Sunday League and in the 1967/68 season, just one year after their formation, the club claimed its first trophy. They beat the brilliantly named Danish Bacon 4-0 to claim the Division Two League Cup in the Herefordshire Sunday League. The club went on to spend 10 years in the league, collecting the Premier Division crown along with numerous Wye Guild Cups League Cups.
The club moved up to the Worcester & District League in 1973 and moved up again to the West Midlands Regional league in 1975, claiming the Sunday League Cup and Division Winners trophies as they went.
Their best ever season came in 1986/87 when the club reached a whole new level by advancing to the FA Vase 5th round and winning promotion to the West Midland Premier League as champions of Division One. They consolidated this position in the coming years before achieving promotion to the Midlands Football Alliance, again as champions in 2003.
A costly ground share with Stourport assured this promotion could be ratified but soon enough the new £250,000 allpay.park was opened and Westfields could return home. The good work was spearheaded by manager Sean Edwards, who is still in charge today!
The club have been in the ninth tier of English football ever since, with memorable moments including runners-up finishes in the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons. As well as the countless promotions from Sunday League football, the club can also look back proudly on: 14 Herefordshire FA Senior Challenge Cups, 4 HFA Senior Invitation Cup Winners, 3 HFA Charity Bowls, 3 HFL League Senior Shields, 6 Kington Challenge Cups, 7 Kington Invitation Cups, 4 Presteigne Ottaway Cup Winners, 2 Robert Biggart Trophies, 9 Dennis Hartland Memorial Trophies, Hereford Journal Cups and 2 Wye Guild Cups.
Aswell as this, they were voted Hereford Sports Council Club Of The Year in 2002 and Charter Standard Club of the Year just last year. You may not have heard of many of these competitions but make no mistake, Westfields are a team that has winning in its blood.
As expected, the club are having a wonderful season, they are still in every competition they entered, in no small part down to the fact that they won their first sixteen matches of the season. Recent defeats to Alvechurch and Coleshill Town have stunted their progress but they still sit third in league, 5 points behind top side Alvechurch but with six games in hand, so expect to see Westfields reclaim top spot soon.
The team are led by defender Phil Glover (above), who has established himself as a key member of the side since his move from Hinton. The captain played a major hand in the club getting this far as he scored the opener in the last round against Leiston. Although the winner was scored by Richard Greaves, who has had non-league defences terrified this season. He has 8 in his last 6 games and sits, by far and away, top of this season’s scoring charts. One to watch for sure.
Road to the First Round
Due to the club’s standing, their journey to the First Round began way back in August in the Extra Preliminary Round, the earliest possible round to start in. They have had to battle their way through six rounds but here they are still standing, the lowest ranked team still to do so. Let’s take a look how this incredible journey unfolded.
Extra Preliminary Round- 6th August
Stourport Swifts 3-4 Westfields
Preliminary Round- 20th August
Westfields 5-1 Tividale
1st Round Qualifying- 3rd September
Westfields 4-0 St Ives Town
2nd Round Qualifying- 17th September
Westfields 4-2 Highgate United
3rd Round Qualifying- 1st October
Westfields 4-0 Walton Casuals
4th Round Qualifying- 15th October
Westfields 2-1 Leiston
FA Cup First Round- 5th November
Westfields ?-? Curzon Ashton
The main things that jump out from that are that Westfields love a home tie and they love scoring goals as well. The draw has been kind to them again, they will face a sixth consecutive home tie, this time against Curzon Ashton of the National League North (tier 6). Unfortunately, they suffered the pre-FA Cup blues in their last outing, being thumped at home 4-0 by Coleshill Town. However, expect Westfeilds to have forgotten all about that come Saturday, Curzon Ashton may not have been the team they were glued to their TVs hoping for but this is still the biggest match in their history and they have previous of knocking out higher ranked opponents already this season.
A special team, with a special story hoping to write their name into FA Cup folklore. 50 years ago a group of young Englishmen were presented with a once in a lifetime situation, they rose to it and they claimed thier immmortality. 50 years on, the same opportunity presents itself for the players of Westfields. They may be the lowest ranked but make no mistake, don’t write these lads off.