At Home With The Crows: St Albans City
Next Up: 'The Saints' Of St Albans City FC
Crows v St Albans City FC
Kick Off: Tuesday 12th November 2013. 7:45pm
So after the turbulent news of last week which saw the most successful manager in Royston Town history depart Garden Walk, the Crows play their first home match in the Post Paul Attfield period.
Although Paul and I would not classify each other as “besties”, I have to respect the achievements of the man and wish him the very best in his battle against ill health. All the very best for the future Paul.
But onto the Saints of St Albans City in the Herts Senior Cup, one of the few cup competitions we are left in and I am sure that the opposition will be looking for a positive reaction after the spanking they received in the FA Cup against Mansfield Town.
St Albans the City has a very long history and was originally laid by the Romans with the title Verulamium which was the second largest settlement after Londinium. After the Roman withdrawal and prior to gaining its current name, the town was known as Verlamchester.
The mediaeval town grew on the hill around the Benedictine monastery of St Albans Abbey. Tradition has it that this was the spot where St Alban, the first British Christian martyr was beheaded in 324 AD.
Currently, St Albans holds the title of being the second most expensive place to live after London. Won’t be moving there then!
Notable people of St Albans include the Children’s TV presenter Stacey Dooley (yep, never heard of her), Professor Stephen Hawking (I have heard of him) and musician David Essex. I have also been informed by my Sister that the incredibly talented Indie band Friendly Fire come from these parts too. I have to be honest fellow Crows, I have never heard a track by them.
Stacey Dooley, now you know!
They were founded in 1908 just as Bruce Forsyth was getting famous and have spent most of their history in the Isthmian League, winning the championship 5 times in the 1920’s. They also have the dubious honour of being the first club relegated in this league, a statistic that they share with Corinithian Casuals.
Along with the Saints five championship successes in eight years during the 1920s the club also enjoyed its greatest days in the Amateur Cup. Three times in that decade St Albans reached the semi-final but progress through to the final proved to be beyond them. The same fate befell the club in 1970 leaving them with the unwanted record of having made more semi-final appearances without going on to play in the final than any other club. City's unsuccessful semi-final FA Trophy appearance in 1999 suggests that, given time, a new record could be set in that competition.
The 2nd Round, or equivalent, of the FA Cup has been reached on five occasions but, to date, just one league scalp has been claimed when Brentford were defeated 5–3 in 1924. The most prestigious cup won by the Saints was the London Senior Cup in 1971 while ten other cups have been won a total of 49 times.
More recently the Saints reached the promised land of the Conference Premier after a 2-0 victory against our FA Cup conquerors Histon in 2006. Their stay though was brief and after releasing our very own Dave Theobold, their defence leaked costly goals and a return to the Conference South was confirmed with a 1-1 draw with Tamworth on Easter Monday 2007.
The Saints took the bold gamble of appointing inexperienced Ritchie Hanlon as the clubs new manager, but after releasing the likes of Leon Archer, fans favourite Paul Bastock and Tom Davis and replacing them with So Solid Crew rapper Junior Harvey, Hector Mackie and Ries Noel the club found themselves languishing near the foot of the division in October and Hanlon was relived of command. His replacement was the highly experienced ex AFC Wimbledon Manager Dave Anderson. Unfortunately Big Dave could not change the rut and he was sacked after a 4-0 defeat by Cambridge City on New Years Day 2008.
Heavily linked to the Royston Town vacancy Steve Castle took over the reigns at St Albans and after some pretty eye catching results including a 2-0 win over top of the table Lewes the Saints secured their Conference South Status with a 3-2 victory over play-off chasing Eastleigh FC.
2009 saw the club mired in financial worries after the Chairman’s company went into administration, the club saw the season out and Steve Castle was able to build a decent enough squad on very limited resources. The financial situation of 2009 returned to haunt the club in 2011 when the Saints were fined £7,500 and deducted 10 league points. This had a bearing on their season and they were eventually relegated to the Southern Premier after a 4-0 defeat to Ebsfleet United.
On 4 February 2011, the F.A. fined St. Albans £7,500 and deducted 10 league points. The punishment was handed down to City chairman John Gibson and then vice chairman Alasdair McMillin during a Regulatory Hearing at the Association’s offices at Wembley, and was in relation to alleged illegal payments to players, described by the FA as financial irregularities, by the club during the 2008/9 season. St. Albans appealed, but the original decision was upheld.
Their Season So Far
Currently lying in 8th place with 21 points from 13 games, the Saints were recently thrashed by Mansfield Town 8-1 in the FA Cup despite taking the lead. An old Chinese expression leaps to mind, “Beware the wounded tiger!”
Their current league form has seen them dispatch Hitchin 2-1 with goals from former Royston target John Frendo and Ryan Wharton.
Ones to Watch
A very talented squad has been assembled by St Albans and there are threats all over the place however I will start with an old sparring partner from my footy days in Shot stopper extraordinaire Paul Bastock.
Paul is a legend at almost every club he has played at which includes Cambridge United, Boston United, Rushden & Diamonds and of course the Saints. He has over 800 appearances to his name and is liked wherever he has gone. Softly spoken off the pitch but a gladiator on it, our forward line will need to be at the top of their game on Tuesday night.
In midfield we will find Richard Graham who joined the club in 2012 from Conference side Dartford. Funnily enough he made his debut for the Saints against Royston in 2012! Big Rich has a wicked left footed shot on him. He was voted Supporters Club Player of the Year last season.
Up front we should face one time Royston target John Frendo. His 46 goals in 44 games attracted many a higher league side to Top Field before Frenny decided to make the short journey to Clarence Park.
John Frendo: Could Have Been A Crow, Now A Saint!