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English football's 2nd oldest team folds - Birmingham based

Darlaston Town FC has folded and has been pulled from the Midlands league after almost 140 years in existence. The long-running team is thought to be the second oldest football club in the country.

Fans have now launched a rescue bid and say they are aiming to relaunch the club, which played at the City Ground in Waverley Road, within the next 12 months.

Darlaston Town FC was formed in 1874 and was a founder member of the Midlands league in 1962.

The team has played at the Waverley Road ground since 1899 and only during the war years has a Darlaston team not been competing in a regional league.

Fears over the future of the club emerged last year when it needed to raise £15,000 to run for the next season and pay off bills.

Chief executive of the West Midlands Regional League Neil Juggins confirmed last week that the club was no longer part of the league.

“They have folded as far as we are concerned,” he said. “They are no longer members of our competition.”

A meeting for fans to discuss whether to reform the club or set up a new one is being held at Darlaston All Active Centre, in Willenhall Road, on September 4 from 7.30pm.

Neil Chambers, a chairman of the club in the 1990s and club historian, said: “I have received numerous calls from long time supporters, well wishers and former players asking me if I could do anything to re-form the club or form a new club bearing the town’s name.

“I have also received calls from as far afield as Manchester, from people who left the town more 40 years ago but still have great affection for the town.

They have offered help and support and have even said they will travel to attend future meetings.

“There is a real enthusiasm from people to form a club to represent the town and if possible keep the name of Darlaston Town alive.

“People have said to me that they remember great times in the town and the history of the club is simply too illustrious to let the club and name disappear without a fight.

“It might be that we have to start again from scratch and build a new club and team but if that’s what we have to do then I am convinced there is enough support from the people and businesses in the town to give it a try.”

Mr Chambers said people he had spoken to simply wanted a community-based senior football team to bear the town’s name.

“They all know that the new club will have to start afresh and at the moment that will mean finding a home ground and raising funds to set up and run a new team,” he added.

“So far the response has been fantastic and two lifelong followers and supporters of the club have already agreed to make monthly contributions to help with the running costs.”

Darlaston South councillor Doug James is also leading the fight to secure the future of the club.

“We are going about getting local support for establishing Darlaston Town FC and registering it with the FA,” he said.

“It forms a very key link to our industrial heritage and it has just been left to fall into disrepair.

“It is key to many towns in the country having a good, active football club. It creates a great feeling of togetherness.

“For too long now, despite our best efforts, it has been surrounded in mystery.

“My appeal to whoever is involved is to come forward and make a clear statement about what their intentions are.”

The land used by the club is owned by Walsall Council.

Regeneration chief councillor Adrian Andrew said: “It is almost 140 years of history in Darlaston and unfortunately it looks as if it is finishing. If the fans are trying to take over they do need to discuss with the council their plans.”

The club has an illustrious history having won 10 League Championships and more than 40 Cup Competitions.


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