Stratford Here We Come

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover face the Bards of Stratford Town this Saturday, hoping for better fortunes than they had at Alvechurch on Tuesday night.

Our hosts are still not safe from relegation, currently 16th and five points above the drop zone.

This will be their third successive home game, having beaten Redditch 2-0 on Tuesday after drawing 1-1 with Barwell last Saturday. They are also unbeaten in the last five home games.

Ex Forest Junior midfielder and Bromsgrove manager Gavin Hurren has been in sole charge since September last year, when co-manager and former Rams player and assistant manager Dean Holdsworth left the club.

Having starting the season using well over 30 players before Christmas, there has been little early stability in our hosts starting line-up. Liam O’Brien, loanee Luke Bell, Leon Phillips and Louis Beresford have all started in goal.

O’Brien has now become the regular number one, he is a former England Under 19 International, who made 62 League Two appearances. QPR signed him as junior from Ruislip, before he moved on to Portsmouth. After a loan at Eastbourne, he joined Barnet on his release, and after another loan at Eastbourne signed for Brentford.

He moved on to Dagenham & Redbridge, before going back to Portsmouth. Stays at Coventry City and Yeovil followed, before coming to Stratford in November 2020, while Beresford has come through the Bards own youth scheme,

Signed in August 2021, midfielder Dan Lafferty is a former Northern Ireland Under 17 International, who came through the ranks at Coventry City.

Sam Wilding is a defensive midfielder who was a junior at both West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland. After a loan at Leamington, he joined Hednesford on his release, joining Stratford last October.

Will Grocott is another midfielder and he started his career at Aston Villa. After spells at Tamworth and Loughborough he went to Canada, playing for Kitchener-Waterloo Utd and Toronto Lynx. He returned to the UK with Rugby and Tamworth before his first spell at Stratford. After a year at Stourbridge, he came back to our hosts in 2020 and has been club captain.

Centre back and current captain Paul McCone was a pre-season arrival from Halesowen. He started at Wolves and has also played for Stourbridge, Leamington, Hednesford, Telford and back to Stourbridge.

They have recently added the experienced defender Lee Vaughan to their squad. An ex Birmingham City and Portsmouth Junior, he was at Chelmsley before Walsall signed him. Then a loan at Willenhall preceded a move to Telford, moving onto Kidderminster, Cheltenham, Tranmere, Solihull and Barnet.  He came to Stratford after 18 months at Stourbridge.

Striker Andre Wright arrived in October last year from Kettering. As a West Bromwich Albion Junior, he was loaned out to Kidderminster, Torquay and Coventry, before a permanent move to Kidderminster. He moved to Nuneaton, back to Torquay, Gloucester and Halesowen, before going to the Republic of Ireland with Bohemians.

After spells at Ayr Utd and Sligo Rovers, he joined Telford in January, followed by a spell at Hereford before joining Kettering at the start of the season.

Former West Bromwich Albion Junior left back Taylor Morrison arrived from Littleton in August 2022. He first joined Stratford in 2018, having gone to Alvechurch following his West Brom release. He returned to Alvechurch after a couple of months, before moving on via Evesham, Redditch, Worcester City and another Alvechurch return, then a five-month spell at Littleton followed a short stop at Tamworth.

Josh Hawker is a central midfielder and former Birmingham City Junior. He was signed from Halesowen in July last year and played for Redditch too.

Former Brentford Junior midfielder Jesse Akubuine spent much of his career in Scotland. From Brentford he joined Queen of the South, who loaned him to Dalbeattie Star and Broomhill Glasgow, before moving to Cumbernauld. On his return to England, he joined Rushden & Diamonds, from where Stratford signed him last October.

Teenaged midfielder Felix Miles arrived last October. A former Cheltenham Junior, he was loaned to Tuffley Rovers and Evesham before joining the Bards on his release. He is on the fringe of the first team and is currently on loan at Cinderford.

Right back Patrick Zito arrived last August on his release from Aston Villa, but hasn’t broken into the first team.

Lewis Ison is a defender signed from Hednesford earlier this season. He was picked up by Bristol Rovers from Coventry Utd, but then moved to Nuneaton before returning to Coventry.

Kieron Dawes is another right back, signed from Bromsgrove at the beginning of the year. While he was at Birmingham City he had loans at Sutton Coldfield and Hednesford, before joining Coleshill on release. He was then at Redditch before his six month stay at Bromsgrove.

Dan Vann is a centre back too, having been at the club for three years since arriving from Walsall. He was also loaned to Stafford, Matlock and Chasetown during his time with the Saddlers.

James Mace is another centre back signed last November, from Leamington. He started at Hinckley Utd before joining Leamington, who also loaned him out to Bromsgrove.

Former West Brom and Walsall Junior Striker Jamie Molyneux arrived from Bromsgrove in May 2023, having previously played for Halesowen, Redditch, Hereford, Highgate and Westfields.

Centre back Jack Turner was Bristol City Junior, signed from Kettering part way through last season. He has recently returned from a loan spell at Corby.

Right back Aksum White came from Coleshill last August. Another former West Brom Junior, he has played for Tamworth, Khalsa and Worcester Raiders too.

Striker Callum Ebanks is currently on loan from Cheltenham and over the last two years he has also been loaned to Evesham, Bromsgrove, Eastleigh and Bath City.

Winger Kyle Bennett was signed from Hednesford on Valentine’s Day this year. He started out at Wolves, before moving on to Bury on Doncaster, from where he was loaned to Crawley Town.

After another loan at Bradford he joined Portsmouth, but continued his travel via Bristol Rovers, Swindon, Grimsby and Telford, before a year at Hednesford. He has well over 300 league games under his belt.

Midfielder Charlie Williams was signed last month after being released by Burton Albion. He was previously loaned to Leamington, Banbury and Redditch.

Josh Waite is a striker who came to the club in February, he had previously been at Telford for six months, following his release from Stoke City.

Kick off as usual is 3pm if you are making the trip.

Share & Spread The Word