HISTORY | Redditch United Football Club
The Reds are one of the longest established football clubs in the Midlands, starting out as Redditch Town in the Birmingham Combination League in 1891 and being crowned first winners of the Worcestershire Senior Cup in 1894.
The club’s debut campaign in 1893/94 began in the 1st Qualifying Round with a 4-1 win at home against Singers FC who five years later would change their name to Coventry City. However, Redditch Town withdrew before facing Hednesford (Town) in the 2nd Qualifying Round, a pattern repeated the following season with victory over Stafford Rangers and withdrawal before facing the original Coalville Town. The reasons for the withdrawals have not been identified, but it wasn’t uncommon for clubs in the 19th Century to either struggle to fund an away trip, find enough available players, or have more important competitions to focus on.
Redditch Town not only dropped its suffix at the end of the 1896/97 season, but also dropped down to compete in local league football, not stepping back up until joining the Birmingham Combination for the 1908/09 season. This was followed two years later by a return to the FA Cup, but Redditch were well beaten 6-0 by league rivals Willenhall Pickwick in the 1910/11 Extra Preliminary Round. The final few years before the outbreak of World War I would witness just one FA Cup win for Redditch, 1-0 at Willenhall Swifts in the 1914/15 Preliminary Round, but this would lead to the club’s heaviest FA Cup defeat of all time, 8-0 at the hands of Cradley Heath St Luke’s.
The club prospered in the 1930s and again 20 years later when they were Birmingham Combination champions in 1952 and 1955.
In 1971, United was added to the name and in November of that year, the club reached the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history. A record crowd of 4,500 rammed into the Valley Stadium to see the Reds draw 1-1 with Division Four side Peterborough United before losing 6-0 in the replay.
The following season saw them join the Southern League and were promoted to the Premier Division at the end of the 1975-76 campaign having scored more than 100 goals in the process.
They were founder members of the Alliance Premier League at the start of the 1979/80 but struggled against the likes of Barnet and Yeovil Town in what would evolve into the Football Conference.
The club then plied its trade in the Southern League for more than 20 years the highlight of which was another run to the first round of the FA Cup in 1989 before losing 3-1 to Conference side Merthyr Tydfil in front of another sell-out crowd.
The club made the headlines at the end of the 1997-98 season, playing nine games in nine days due to a backlog of fixtures brought about by the poor weather and the then grass Valley Stadium Pitch.
At the end of the 2003/04 season, the Reds clinched an historic double promotion under the guidance of manager Rod Brown. Having secured the Southern League Western Division, the club then won two play-off matches to secure a place in the newly formed Conference North where they stayed for seven seasons. The Club entered financial troubles and drop from the National League North in 2011.
Entrepreneur Chris Swan took control of the club in March 2011, clearing outstanding debts to guarantee its continued survival. The Reds won the Worcestershire Senior Cup and a number of players made the move into full-time football including Jermaine Hylton who joined Swindon Town and Omari Sterling-James who went to Cheltenham Town.
Having just missed out on the play-offs in 2014/15, the club finished runners-up the following year only to lose out to Leamington in the play-offs.
In 2016, the club worked with Redditch Borough Council, the FA and the Football Foundation as a £900,000 investment programme was carried out which saw a state-of-the-art 3G playing surface installed as well as substantial upgrades to changing facilities. The new-look facilities were officially opened by Sports Minister Tracey Crouch.
A full time Academy was developed which enables scholars to take part in College and University level education alongside an elite football programme. Since its formation a number of players have developed through the pathway to senior football at Redditch United and other local Clubs.
Redditch United Women’s Team does the double, as they are crowned League and Cup winners.
Covid-19 pandemic rages through the globe meaning that the 2019/20 season is cut short due to national lockdown and Redditch are saved from near certain relegation. A new season starts later than normal in September 2020 with a new Chairman and Manger. United start strong under Matt Clarke only for the campaign to be delayed in November and eventually curtailed in February after just 8 games had been played.
The future for The Reds has never looked brighter – over 1000 people playing on the 3G pitch each week thanks to developing junior, education and community programme. United sell over 120 season tickets for the campaign thanks in part to the continuation of the £99 season ticket offer.