Competition: Midland Football league Division 2
Date: 14 January 2023
Result: Cadbury Athletic 2 – 2 Sutton United (Birmingham)
Tickets: £5 (adult)
Attendance: 100 (rough head count)
Game/ Experience Rating: ☆☆☆☆
The Game: Cadbury Athletic was a fun little add on to my Birmingham trip, which was mainly to see Villa, but what a spot it is. I was lucky enough to catch a top of the table game, which saw Cadbury (second) play league leaders Sutton United (the Birmingham side, not the much higher placed South London one) in what is a Midlands division in the seventh tier of English non-league football.
I learnt before the game that Cadbury actually would have been promoted last year had they been allowed to build floodlights, a requirement for the next tier up, having won the previous season’s title. If you look at the ground, I suppose its obvious why generic floodlights somewhere like this might not appeal, so that could be an expensive add on.
Sutton United twice led in this game, despite Cadbury having marginally the better of it overall in my view. The first was a penalty, before a classic non-league moment saw a one-on-one for Cadbury’s striker saved by the goalkeeper, but bounce back off the striker’s face and go in. Sutton led again through a really impressive long-distance volley, and Cadbury equalised at the death, in a game that they probably needed to win to stay in the title race. Another classic non-league moment fell in the middle, when the referee gave and then withdrew a red card (presumably a mistaken identity on a second yellow, I’m not sure).
The game was really scrappy to start with but as it went on I was more and more impressed with the quality, well worth watching.
The ground: The ground, let’s be honest, was the main appeal here. Bourneville is the home of Cadbury’s chocolate (who lend their name to the team), and the general area is absolutely stunning, with loads of interesting history ranging from haivng no pubs (it was a quaker area) to all the cool-looking factory-worker houses. The ground itself sits fairly tight against one of the Cadbury factory buildings, and has this really ornate clubhouse overlooking the pitch at one end.
It’s one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever watched a game, and the mossy terraces along one side only add to that effect, slightly run down as they are. The whole thing feels a little bit like a weird blend between a tiny picturesque village and the modest hustle of suburban Birmingham. The pictures speak for themselves, I think.
Extras: I had told the club I was coming, both by asking on Twitter where I should go – to them or one of a few other games being played that day – and by buying a shirt and a pin before I turned up. They could not have been more welcoming – I collect my Cadbury Athletic merch (what a sentence), got handed a cup of coffee and a given quick tour of the club house, including the spectacular tribute to the Cadbury’s workers who died during World War I and World War II, all in the ten minutes before the game. Great people, a credit to non-league football.
Assorted asides: The Cadbury’s World exhibit was closed when I visited, unfortunately, but is open most of the time. Football and chocolate would make a great combo, and Cadbury Athletic literally have the chocolate logo on their shirt…
My totals for the year so far:
Games: 2. Home wins: 1 Draws: 1 Away wins: 0
Goals: 7. Home goals: 4. Away goals: 3. Goals per game: 3.5