| Walsall_F.C. | Roy_Hodgson | Bryan_Robson | Nicolas_Anelka | Tony_Mowbray | Gary_Megson | James_Morrison_(footballer) | Nwankwo_Kanu | Shane_Long | Jonathan_Greening | Kevin_Phillips_(footballer) | Derek_McInnes | Robert_Koren | Geoff_Hurst | Lloyd_Dyer | Paul_Robinson_(footballer_born_December_1978) | Des_Lyttle | Ron_Atkinson | Paul_Peschisolido | Steve_Clarke | Lee_Hughes | Chris_Wood_(footballer_born_1991) | Robert_Earnshaw | Victor_Anichebe | Jason_Roberts_(footballer) | Craig_Beattie | Lateef_Elford-Alliyu | Richard_Chaplow | Curtis_Davies | Geoff_Horsfield | Diomansy_Kamara | John_Hartson | Joe_Mattock | Michael_Appleton | Ishmael_Miller | Paul_Scharner | Simon_Cox_(footballer_born_1987) | Chris_Brunt | Roberto_Di_Matteo | Ronnie_Allen | Sam_Allardyce | Jerome_Thomas | Nathan_Ellington | Scott_Dobie | Graham_Dorrans | Gareth_McAuley | Sean_Gregan | Brian_Little_(footballer) |
|Full name||Walsall Football Club|
(as Walsall Town Swifts)
|2012–13||League One, 9th|
|Website||Club home page|
Walsall Football Club are an English association football club based in Walsall, West Midlands. They currently play in League One, the third tier in the English football league system. The club was founded in 1888 as Walsall Town Swifts, an amalgamation of Walsall Town F.C. and Walsall Swifts F.C. The club was one of the founder members of the Second Division in 1892, but have spent their entire existence outside English football's top division; their highest league finish was sixth in Division Two in 1898–99.
Walsall moved into their Bescot Stadium in 1990, having previously played at nearby Fellows Park. The ground is now known as Banks's Stadium for sponsorship purposes. The team play in a red and white kit and their club crest features a swift. The club's nickname, The Saddlers, reflects Walsall's status as a traditional centre for saddle manufacture.
|This article or section may be slanted towards recent events. (August 2009)|
Walsall were formed as Walsall Town Swifts in 1888 when Walsall Town F.C. and Walsall Swifts F.C. amalgamated. Walsall Town had been founded in 1877 and Walsall Swifts in 1879. Walsall Town Swifts' first match was a draw against Aston Villa. Two players from this early era received international caps; they remain the only Walsall players to be so honoured. In 1882, Alf Jones won the first two of his three caps (against Scotland and Wales) while with Walsall Swifts, and in 1889 Albert Aldridge received the second of his two caps while playing for Walsall Town Swifts. The club were first admitted to the Football League in 1892, as founder members of the new Second Division, but in 1894–95 finished 14th out of 16 teams and failed to be re-elected to the Football League. In 1896 they changed their name to Walsall F.C. and joined the Midland League. A year later, they returned to the Second Division, three teams having failed re-election in 1896. The team finished in sixth place in 1898–99, but once again failed re-election two years later, dropping back into the Midland League. A move to the Birmingham League followed in 1903, and in 1910, the club were elected to the Southern League. With the expansion of the Football League after World War I, Walsall became a founding member of the Third Division North in 1921.
Walsall's highest "home" attendance was set in 1930, when they played in of front of 74,600 fans against Aston Villa in the FA Cup Fourth Round. Although a home match for Walsall, the tie was played at their opponents' Villa Park ground, and it remains the highest attendance that Walsall have ever played in front of.
In 1933, Walsall won 2–0 in the FA Cup against Arsenal at Fellows Park. Arsenal went on to win the First Division that season, and the cup defeat to Third Division North side Walsall is still regarded as one of the greatest upsets in FA Cup history.
In 1958, following a reorganisation of the Football League, Walsall became founder members of the Fourth Division. Under the management of Bill Moore, the club achieved successive promotions, scoring 102 goals on their way to winning Division Four in 1959–60 and finishing as Division Three runners-up in 1960–61 to reach the second tier of English football for the first time since the early 1900s. Players such as Bill 'Chopper' Guttridge, Tony Richards and Colin Taylor were intrinsically important to the success of the side. After just two seasons in the Second Division, the club were relegated back to Division Three in 1962–63, and remained there until a further demotion to the Fourth Division, in 1978–79.
The club has always had a rich history of producing players who go on to play at the top level. Allan Clarke went on to win the League Championship under Don Revie at Leeds United after beginning life at Fellows Park. Bert Williams and Phil Parkes both became England goalkeepers in the years after they progressed from their roots in Walsall. David Kelly had a long career at the top level after leaving Walsall in 1988, representing the Republic of Ireland at the very highest level of international football. More recently, Michael Ricketts represented England after blossoming at Bolton Wanderers. In recent years, Matty Fryatt and Ishmel Demontagnac have both represented England age-groups.
The 1980s were a period of considerable activity for Walsall. In 1983–84 they defeated First Division club Arsenal in the League Cup at Highbury, and advanced to the semi-final, where an estimated 10,000 Saddlers saw a 2–2 draw against Liverpool at Anfield, however a second leg 2–0 defeat in front of 19,591 at Fellows Park saw Walsall lose the tie 4–2 on aggregate. This cup run saw Walsall famously only 90 minutes away from playing in Europe, which was once the name of a Fanzine, unfortunately no longer running. Walsall narrowly missed out on promotion to the Second Division in the same season.
In 1986 plans were announced to move Walsall to Birmingham, to groundshare with Birmingham City. The town rallied behind Barrie Blower, who led a campaign to save the club. Walsall were subsequently bought by millionaire entrepreneur and racehorse owner Terry Ramsden and with his money came high profile signings and the attention of the national media. In 1986–87, under new manager Tommy Coakley, Walsall narrowly missed the play-offs, but made considerable progress in the FA Cup as they defeated First Division Charlton Athletic and Birmingham City and took Watford to two replays in the fifth round.
Walsall earned promotion through the old Division Three play-offs in 1988, beating Bristol City in a replayed final at Fellows Park, 13,007 where there to see it. 1988–89 saw the club relegated from Division Two and Ramsden's business empire collapsed alongside the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Walsall were minutes from being taken over by Japanese administrators and folded, but survived, again through the actions of Barrie Blower and local businessmen.
Further relegation followed at the end of 1989–90 as Walsall were consigned to Division Four.
The club moved to the Bescot Stadium in 1990. At the time it was a state-of-the-art arena, and was only the second new Football League ground since the 1950s. The arrival at Bescot Stadium saw some stability brought back to the club after two successive relegations. Ex-Wolves star Kenny Hibbitt managed the club for four years, setting the groundwork for a golden era for the club that would follow soon after his dismissal in September 1994.
New manager Chris Nicholl led the club to promotion in his first season, building the nucleus of a strong and under-rated team. Two seasons of stability followed, finishing 11th and 12th, before Nicholl resigned in 1997.
Ex-Ajax and Danish international Jan Sorensen took the helm after departure. Whilst 'The Saddlers' finished 19th in Division Two that season, the club reached the 4th Round of the League Cup, as well as rampaging through the early rounds of the FA Cup. Lincoln United were dispatched in the first round, before league newcomers Macclesfield Town were beaten 7–0 and a victory over Peterborough United in the 3rd Round was rewarded with a glamour tie away at Manchester United, which Walsall lost 5–1. However, despite the club's cup exploits, a poor finish in the league signalled the end of Sorensen's time at Walsall after just one season.
After an unlikely promotion to the second tier Walsall found life difficult at a higher level, but battled right until the final day of the season, when their fate was finally sealed. A 2–0 defeat at Ipswich coupled with West Brom's home victory over Charlton meant Walsall returned to the third tier, despite derby wins over local rivals Wolves, Birmingham and West Brom earlier in the campaign.
The Saddlers returned to the second-tier of English Football at the first attempt, defeating Reading 3–2, after extra time, in a thrilling play-off final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. After a promising start to the season, the form began to slip away over the winter period. However, the signings of Fitzroy Simpson and Don Goodman added much needed steel to the side and spurred them on to reach Division One once again.
Despite all the success he had delivered, it soon became clear that Ray Graydon had reached the end of the road at the club. Following an abject performance and 2–0 defeat, live on Sky Sports against local rivals West Brom, Jeff Bonser dismissed Graydon. His replacement, ex-Wolves manager Colin Lee polarised supporters, but ultimately proved to be a success. The style of football improved and Lee's signings improved the team dramatically. Relegation was avoided thanks to vital away wins against Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United.
2003–04 proved to be one of the most remarkable seasons in the club's history. Up until Christmas, Walsall were flying. West Bromwich Albion and Nottingham Forest were both destroyed 4–1, as new-signing, the ex-England and Arsenal star, Paul Merson seemed to be repeating some of the magic that had led Portsmouth to promotion the previous season. Following a Boxing Day victory at Cardiff City, the club sat just four points off a place in the play-offs.
However, 2004 saw a spectacular slump in form. The New Year began with a disappointing FA Cup Third Round defeat away at Millwall, and an embarrassing 6–1 home defeat against fellow-strugglers Coventry City. The following weeks saw further costly defeats, and it took until 13 March for the club to win their first league game of 2004. Colin Lee was sacked on 16 April 2004 after a shambolic display at Gillingham, though the reason given for his dismissal was his decision to speak to Plymouth Argyle about their vacant manager's position.
Lee was replaced on a temporary basis by Paul Merson, who was assisted by Simon Osborn. Despite the rallying cries of the ex-England international, and the backing of the town, Walsall were ultimately relegated, agonisingly by a single goal.
Despite the club's relegation and no previous managerial experience, Merson was immediately appointed as full-time manager of the club in May 2004. Although initially a popular choice, a poor season almost ended in successive relegations. However, an inspired loan signing Julian Joachim spurred the team on to winning all five of their final games of the 2004–05 season and 14th place in League One, restoring some faith in his management ability.
Although the 2005–06 season started promisingly, it turned into a disastrous one for Walsall. After increasing supporter pressure following a string of bad results, culminating in a 5–0 defeat at Brentford, Merson's reign as Walsall manager came to an end on 6 February 2006.
Later that month, former Birmingham City captain Kevan Broadhurst was appointed as Paul Merson's replacement. However, Walsall were relegated on 22 April 2006 after losing 3–1 to Huddersfield Town. Broadhurst was sacked the next day. On 3 May 2006, the team appointed their third permanent manager of the season in former Scunthorpe manager Richard Money.
Richard Money's reign started with a bang as Walsall lost just once in the first 20 league games in League Two, including maximum points from their first seven home ties. An impressive start to the season was maintained throughout, and despite a mini-blip in February, Walsall remained in the top three for almost the entire season. Walsall were promoted into League One on 14 April after beating Notts County 2–1 away from home. On the final day of the season, Walsall drew 1–1 with Swindon Town at the County Ground thanks to a last-minute goal by Dean Keates in front of 3,419 travelling fans, to secure the League Two title.
Walsall's form continued into the new season, as the club performed strongly in 2007–08, including a run of 17 league matches without defeat. However, a January transfer window that culminated in the sales of important first team players Daniel Fox and Scott Dann (both to Coventry City) caused a drop in form throughout 2008. The club's play-off challenge was ended after a run of poor results in March leading to Richard Money resigning as manager in April. Jimmy Mullen took over as caretaker manager before being given the job on a permanent basis after the club finished in 12th place.
Walsall endured an inconsistent start to their League One campaign in 2008–09, with a number of home defeats leading to the sacking of manager Jimmy Mullen in January 2009. Mullen was replaced by former Walsall player Chris Hutchings. Hutchings started his reign with a 1–1 home draw with Hereford United. His first win as Walsall manager came against Leeds United on 31 January 2009 at Bescot Stadium, with Troy Deeney's first half goal proving enough in a 1–0 win.
2009–10, Hutchings's first full season as Walsall manager, was again inconsistent. At the start of December, Walsall were 7th and only a point outside the play-offs. However, the start of 2010 brought a slump in form and by the beginning of April, Walsall were 13th with only one win in seven league games. The last eight games brought a striking change in form, only losing once to seal a top 10 finish – their highest since being relegated in 2004.
The 2010–11 season started poorly and by the beginning of October, Walsall were rock-bottom of the table and facing a relegation battle. On 3 January 2011, after a 4–1 defeat against Peterborough United, Hutchings was sacked. Head of Youth, and ex-Walsall player, Dean Smith was placed in temporary charge. On 21 January he was announced as permanent manager of the club until the end of the season.
On 29 January 2011, Walsall recorded their best league result since 1986 by beating Bristol Rovers 6–1. This was Smith's first win in charge, and sparked an upturn in form seeing Walsall gain ground on their relegation rivals. A 1–0 win over promotion chasing Southampton on 1 March 2011 saw Walsall climb out of the relegation zone for the first time since October. A points haul of 8 in April was enough to ensure Walsall were one point clear of the drop zone going into the final set of fixtures. Despite losing 3–1 to Southampton, and accumulating only 48 points, Walsall survived relegation by 1 point ahead of Dagenham & Redbridge.
The 2011–12 season once again saw Walsall flirt with relegation from League One. However, a 1–1 draw at home to Huddersfield Town on 28 April 2012 guaranteed Walsall's survival in League One at the expense of Wycombe, Chesterfield, Exeter and Rochdale, who were all relegated.
The 2012–13 season began with a 3–0 home defeat to Doncaster on 18 August 2012, though Walsall gradually began to improve after their initial setback, reaching 5th place in the League One table after a 2–1 win over Portsmouth at Fratton Park on 15 September 2012. However, a winless run of sixteen games followed from early October until 22 December 2012, when the Saddlers defeated Colchester 1–0 at home. Following this, the club began to prosper in the New Year, only being beaten three times in 24 games until the end of the season and emerging as a serious contender for the play-offs. Despite falling just short, they finished 9th in the table, marking a significant improvement following two seasons of struggling.
Walsall have rivalries with neighbouring Black Country teams West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers (though these teams are often more concerned with their rivalry against each other, rather than against Walsall).
This multi-purpose sports ground was situated in a district near to the Walsall Arboretum. It comprised some 12 soccer pitches and four good-sized cricket squares. It was the first ever home ground for Walsall F.C. from 1888 until 1893.
The new ground in West Bromwich Road, which had a capacity of just over 4,500, proved to be a lucky omen for The Saddlers between 1893 and 1896.
Fellows Park was a former football stadium in Walsall, England. It was the home ground of Walsall F.C. from 1896 until 1990, when the team moved to the Bescot Stadium.
Bescot Stadium, currently known as Banks's Stadium for sponsorship purposes, is the home ground of Walsall Football Club. It was built in 1989–90 at a cost of £4.5m, replacing the club's previous ground, Fellows Park, which was located a quarter of a mile away. The ground was opened by Sir Stanley Matthews.
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Youth and Reserves For the reserve and youth squads, see Walsall F.C. Youth and Reserves.
For details on former players, see Category:Walsall F.C. players.
Players of the Year
Top goal scorers
|Alex Nicholls and Jon Macken||10||2011–12|
|Michael Ricketts and Troy Deeney||12||2008–09|
|Kyle Lightbourne and Kevin Wilson||15||1995–96|
|Barry Blower MBE||President|
|Stefan Gamble||Chief Executive|
|Leigh Pomlett||Director |
First team staff
|Dean Smith||Manager |
|Richard O'Kelly||Assistant Manager/First team coach|
|Neil Cutler||Goalkeeping Coach|
|James Troup||Head of Performance Analysis|
|Tom Bradley||Kit Man|
|Dean Holden||Professional Development Coach|
Youth Team Staff
|Neil Woods||Academy Manager |
|Graham Biggs||Head of Academy Coaching|
|Paul Larvin||Lead Coach for Youth Development Phase|
|Adam Davy||Lead Coach for Foundation Phase/ Community Manager|
|Dr Ricky Shamji||Club Doctor|
|Jon Whitney||Senior Physiotherapist|
|Dean Harris||Sports Scientist|
|Hannah Price||Sports Therapist|
|Harry Hibbs||England||5 August 1944||30 June 1951||230||85||57||88||36.96|
|Tony McPhee||England||1 July 1951||1 December 1951||21||7||3||11||33.33|
|Brough Fletcher||England||1 March 1952||1 April 1953||52||9||8||35||17.31|
|Frank Buckley||England||1 April 1953||1 September 1955||112||24||28||60||21.43|
|John Love||England||1 September 1955||1 December 1957||113||38||26||49||33.63|
|Bill Moore||England||1 December 1957||1 November 1963||332||132||68||132||39.76||1 Division Four (Champions)
1 Division Three (2nd place)
|Alf Wood||England||1 November 1963||1 October 1964||3||1||0||2||33.33|
|Ray Shaw||England||1 October 1964||1 March 1968||166||67||35||64||40.36|
|Dick Graham||England||1 March 1968||1 May 1968||13||5||4||4||38.46|
|Ron Lewin||England||1 July 1968||1 February 1969||28||8||10||10||28.57|
|Bill Moore||England||1 February 1969||16 October 1972||179||65||52||62||36.31|
|John Smith||England||16 October 1972||23 March 1973||27||8||5||14||29.63|
|Jimmy MacEwan||Scotland||23 March 1973||1 June 1973||9||3||2||4||33.33|
|Ronnie Allen||England||6 June 1973||20 December 1974||23||4||9||10||17.39|
|Doug Fraser||Scotland||1 January 1974||7 March 1977||151||54||43||54||35.76|
|Dave Mackay||Scotland||9 March 1977||5 August 1978||61||23||25||13||37.70|
|Alan Ashman||England||23 August 1978||17 February 1979||18||6||6||6||33.33|
|Frank Sibley||England||1 March 1979||5 May 1979||15||2||4||9||13.33|
|Alan Buckley||England||27 June 1979||1 July 1981||93||36||33||24||38.71||1 Division Four (2nd place)|
|Alan Buckley &
|1 July 1981||1 January 1982||18||9||5||4||50.00|
|Neil Martin||Scotland||1 January 1982||1 May 1982||24||3||8||13||12.50|
|Alan Buckley||England||1 May 1982||1 June 1986||201||87||48||66||43.28|
|Tommy Coakley||Scotland||1 August 1986||27 December 1988||141||60||36||45||42.55||1 Division Three (Play-off winners)|
|Ray Train*||England||28 December 1988||17 January 1989||3||0||0||3||0.00|
|John Barnwell||Ireland||17 January 1989||1 March 1990||54||10||18||26||18.52|
|Paul Taylor||England||1 March 1990||15 May 1990||18||4||4||10||22.22|
|Kenny Hibbitt||England||16 May 1990||2 September 1994||201||69||55||77||34.33|
|Chris Nicholl||England||1 August 1994||21 May 1997||157||71||41||45||45.22||1 Division Three (2nd place)|
|Jan Sørensen||Denmark||25 June 1997||5 May 1998||62||26||13||23||41.94|
|Ray Graydon||England||5 May 1998||22 January 2002||199||79||49||71||39.70||1 Division Two (2nd place)
1 Division Two (Play-off winners)
|Colin Lee||England||24 January 2002||16 April 2004||116||38||30||48||32.76|
|Paul Merson†||England||16 April 2004||6 February 2006||94||32||23||39||34.04|
|Mick Halsall*||England||7 February 2006||22 February 2006||3||0||2||1||0.00|
|Kevan Broadhurst||England||22 February 2006||24 April 2006||11||1||4||6||9.09|
|Mark Kinsella*||Ireland||24 April 2006||3 May 2006||1||1||0||0||100.00|
|Richard Money||England||3 May 2006||22 April 2008||103||44||33||26||42.72||1 League Two (champions)|
|Jimmy Mullen||England||22 April 2008||10 January 2009||29||10||5||14||34.48|
|Chris Hutchings||England||20 January 2009||4 January 2011||98||31||24||43||31.63|
|Dean Smith†||England||4 January 2011||Present||137||40||55||42||29.20|
The above statistics include cup games, but not friendlies.
Football League Third Division (now League One)
• Runners-Up (2): 1960–61, 1998–99
• Play-Off Winners (2): 1987–88, 2000–01
Football League Fourth Division (now League Two)
• Champions (2): 1959–60, 2006–07
• Runners-Up (2): 1979–80, 1994–95
Birmingham Senior Cup
• Winners (4): 1880–81 (as Walsall Swifts), 1896–97, 1897–98, 1993–94
• Runners Up (6): 1883–84, 1884–85, 1885–86 (all as Walsall Swifts), 1907–08, 1999–00, 2006–07
Staffordshire Senior Cup
• Winners (4): 1881–82, 1884–85 (Both Walsall Town), 1928–29, 1967–68
• Runners Up (13): 1880–81, 1881–82, 1886–87 (as Walsall Swifts), 1889–90, 1892–93, 1898–99, 1910–11, 1920–21, 1921–22, 1948–49, 1949–50, 1952–53, 1965–66