The ups and downs of Tamworth FC
CHRIS LAKEY Tamworth may be struggling in the Conference relegation zone, but recent years have been kind to a club which has undergone plenty of upheaval in its 70-odd years.
Tamworth may be struggling in the Conference relegation zone, but recent years have been kind to a club which has undergone plenty of upheaval in its 70-odd years.
When Tamworth Castle FC collapsed in 1933 the town had no senior team, but businessman and the local newspaper worked hard to form Tamworth FC, whose early games were played near the Jolly Sailor pub. A year later they moved to The Lamb - and they've been there ever since.
Tamworth began life as a Birmingham Combination team before switching to the Birmingham League, but it took them until the 60s to put some honours on the board, claiming two titles, as well as league cups and several Birmingham Senior Cup and Staffordshire Senior Cup wins.
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The FA Cup team of 69-70 claimed the club's biggest scalp, beating Torquay 2-1 at home in the first round before losing 6-0 at Gillingham.
It was a good decade, but a slump was around the corner when, after joining the Southern League for the 1972 season, the club fell in to decline.
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Struggling to stay alive, it took the efforts of another group of local businessmen, including current chairman Bob Andrews, to keep it alive.
A return to the West Midlands League helped it back on its feet and four years later a title heralded a return to the Southern League.
But the Lambs' greatest triumph came in 1989 when, in front of a 26,487 crowd at Wembley, they stepped out for the FA Vase final against AFC Sudbury. It finished all square at 1-1, before taking the trophy back to the Midlands after a 3-0 replay win at London Road.
Tamworth failed to build on that win until 1997 when they won the Southern League Midland Division championship - by of 26 points.
Performances and league positions gradually improved in the Premier - interspersed with unlucky FA Cup defeats against Exeter and Bury - but times were hard in January, 2001, when former King's Lynn boss Gary Mills took the helm.
Within a year he had turned them from relegation fodder to title challengers - a change of fortunes which earned him a job at Coventry City in the summer of 2002. His former assistant Darron Gee took over and led them to the title and an appearance in the FA Trophy final at Villa Park, which they lost 2-1 to Burscough.
Gee kept Tamworth in the Conference in their first season before joining Mills, who was by now manager at Notts County, in the summer of 2004, paving the way for current boss Mark Cooper.
In the former Birmingham player's two seasons in charge, Tamworth have finished 15th and then 20th, although he did take them to the third round of the FA Cup 12 months ago, when they were shaded out by Championship side Stoke.