THE EARLY YEARS
Redditch United Football Club is located at the heart of its community and boasts being one of the oldest established clubs in the Midlands. Redditch Town first played in the Birmingham Combination in 1891-92 and has recently celebrated its Centenary.
The Club has a long stream of success which started with winning the Worcestershire Senior Cup in 1894 and becoming runners-up in 1898. In 1914 the team won the Birmingham Combination Championship for the first time and, finally, the Birmingham Senior Cup in 1925.
The 1930’s was a rewarding period for the Club and its supporters, starting by winning the Worcestershire Senior Cup and the Birmingham Senior Cup in successive seasons. Reds almost achieved a notable double in 1932-33 when, having won the Combination, they were unfortunately defeated in the Senior Cup Final.
Apart from an unsuccessful appearance in the Birmingham Senior Cup final just before the World War, the Reds moved into a fallow period. In 1953 Redditch regained the Combination Championship and were runners-up in the Worcestershire Senior Cup. This Championship success was repeated in 1955. In 1957 they were runners-up in the Birmingham Senior Cup.
The 1970′s was a successful period for Redditch and started with joining the Southern League and reaching the First Round of the FA Cup for the first time, losing 6-0 in the replay at Peterborough after a 1-1 draw at home in front of a crowd of 4,500.
Reds made a dream start to their first season in the Southern League, winning their first six matches before settling for a mid-table finish. In the Worcestershire Senior Cup they were beaten finalists, but went on to win the competition in the following two seasons. After narrowly missing promotion in 1974-75 they won the Championship in convincing style in 1975-76, scoring over 100 goals and losing only two games. Their first Premier Division season started better than the eventual champions, Wimbledon, but an injury crisis put paid to hopes of successive championships. Huge ground improvements were made in readiness for the Alliance Premier League, but drainage problems on the pitch caused havoc with home fixtures and almost led to relegation from the Division.
Despite these setbacks. Reds were founder members of the Alliance Premier League, but financial problems resulted in relegation after one season and three years of struggle on and off the pitch followed. Ron Berry and a new board of directors were elected and, together with a loyal band of supporters, they saw off the threat of liquidation. In 1985-6 they won promotion to the Premier Division again.
In subsequent years Reds had several managers but with limited success in the league, including relegation from the Premier at the end of the 1988-89 season. The following season, though, they did reach the First Round proper of the FA Cup, losing 3-1 to Merthyr Tydfil (then of the Football Conference) in front of a crowd of 2,000. Ex-Worcester City player, Graham Selby brought better success and a creditable 10th position at the end of the season and won their first trophy for 13 years when they beat Conference side Northwich Victoria 4-3 over the two-legged final of the Staffordshire Senior Cup.
Paul Hendrie joined the Reds in November 1991, and it looked as if the Club was about to begin a new era of success. Hendrie moved on to Tamworth. Manager Micky Tuohy was replaced by Phil Mullen who had played for the Reds, Kidderminster Harriers and Bromsgrove Rovers with great success. He brought in virtually a new side which fought its way out of danger, and from Christmas on had the third best record in the Southern League Midland Division. Season 1997-98 saw the Reds reaching two cup finals, the Southern League Cup and the Birmingham Senior Cup. Both were lost but this was to some degree the result of massive fixture backlog. The season ended with what must be a Southern League record and maybe even a world record for semi-professional football – nine games in nine days. Even the Sun covered the final game.
Season 1998-99 proved to be one of the most exciting in the last decade. Third place in the Southern League Midland Division, progression to the Fourth round of the FA Trophy and silverware in the form of the Worcester Royal Infirmary Cup made for the greatest interest throughout.
During 1999–2000 Rob Smith and his squad maintained a top six position throughout the campaign however, the winds of change saw Nicky Cross take charge for the final six matches. Cross then made the manager’s role a permanent one and together with his assistant Gary Hackett brought a unique style of management to the Valley Stadium. Nicky Cross left the Club by mutual consent and was replaced by Stourport Swifts manager Rod Brown.
After a season of consolidation Rod and his assistant Gary Whild embarked on a meteoric rise to reach step two of the non-league pyramid by firstly becoming champions of the Southern League Western Division, a feat which included heading the table throughout the season, then winning two play-off matches to elevate Redditch United into the newly formed Conference North.
After a ninth-place finish in 2004-05, thanks in part to the 22 goals of French striker Norman Sylla, Redditch struggled in 2005-06. Brown left the Club midway through the campaign, with Whild promoted into the managerial role, and he led the side to safety on the final day of the season. The Club survived relegation in the 2006-07 season, but only because of Scarborough receiving a 10-point penalty for going into financial administration.
In 2007-08 the Club finished in a creditable 13th place also winning the Worcester Senior Cup final against local rivals Worcester City. Off the field though more changes took place as player Carl Heggs stepped up to the role of player/coach and assistant to Gary Whild and Steve Rossiter resigned his position as Chairman.
Early in 2009, Ken Rae, the Club’s Vice-Chairman became Chairman amid a turbulent time at the Club with strong rumours of a merger with local neighbours Bromsgrove Rovers rife, although the merger failed to materialise and the Club continued in its original form. The end of the season saw the team finish in 14th place.
Manager Gary Whild left at the end of the season to join local rivals Kidderminster Harriers Matt Gardiner took on the role of manager and with his No.2, John (Snapper) Snape. Budget was tight, with the team well adrift at the foot of the table, all but certain of relegation and in serious financial trouble, the budget was slashed to ‘zero’ for the remaining months of the season.
This decision forced the management team of Matt Gardiner and John Snape to resign their positions and former Alvechurch manager, Simon Redhead, took on the daunting task of manager. Redhead bought in ex Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City professional, Graham Hyde, as first team coach. The team lost all 15 of their remaining matches and that fact coupled with a 5 point deduction by The Football Conference for ‘financial irregularities’ assured the Red’s relegation.
Shortly before the end of the season the Club was put up for sale. Local businessman, entrepreneur and football fan, Chris Swan, took over the Club and with it the role of Chairman and immediately cleared all the Club’s outstanding debts to guarantee its continued survival. Chris and his wife Sallie took on building the reputation locally for a Club which delivers both on and off the pitch. This has involved the Club returning to is community roots, generating players from within and working closely with schools and teams locally with the focus on regeneration. The Club now has big aspirations and is working hard to achieve these through partnerships and collaboration.
Following relegation to the Southern Premier League manager Simon Redhead left the Club.
SOUTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE
Martin Sockett was appointed as the Red’s new manager in May 2011 as the Club looked to begin the rebuilding process both on and off the field. He left the Club in September 2011 and was replaced by a joint appointment seeing Mark Fenemore and Graham Hyde becoming Joint Managers at the Club. In 2012 Simon Redhead rejoined the Club as manager and attracted with him a strong cohort of players to support the in-house team. With player and assistant manager Asa Charlton and coach Kim Casey, the Club is set to build on it community reputation and is looking to returning to its winning form.
Birmingham Combination Winners: 1914, 1933, 1953
Birmingham & District League Southern Division Winners: 1955
Southern League Division One North Winners: 1976
Southern League Western Division Winners: 2004
Southern League Midland Division Runners Up: 1986
Birmingham Senior Cup Winners: 1925, 1932, 1939, 1977, 2005
Birmingham Senior Cup Runners Up: 1933, 1957, 1978, 1998
Worcestershire Senior Cup Winners: 1894, 1930, 1975, 1976, 2008
Worcestershire Senior Cup Runners Up: 1898, 1953
Staffordshire Senior Cup Winners: 1991
Worcester Royal Infirmary Cup Winners: 1999
Southern League Cup Runners Up: 1998