THE HISTORY OF SOLIHULL MOORS FOOTBALL CLUB
(Updated July 2021)
Solihull Moors FC is a merger between the former Solihull Borough and Moor Green football clubs.
Solihull Borough was formed in 1953 by Joe McGorian and the Club was originally known as Lincoln FC. Borough progressed through the local leagues before joining the Midland Combination in 1969, where they spent 22 seasons, eventually resulting in promotion to the Southern League. In 1989 the club was forced to sell it’s Widney Lane ground to property developers but after a proposed relocation fell through, a ground-share was agreed with local neighbours Moor Green - this was to last for ten years until the purchase of Damson Park in August 1999.
Moor Green was formed in 1901. The first ground was on a part of a farm in Moor Green Lane, Moseley. Their ancestral home, The Moorlands, was acquired in 1930, and was situated in Hall Green, a suburb of south Birmingham. The 2003/4 season was a momentous one for Moors gaining a place in the newly formed Nationwide Conference North; However, the inaugural season was to prove a traumatic one with the devastation caused by two arson attacks at The Moorlands in January 2005, when the main stand and clubhouse were gutted leaving the club homeless. Moors thus became tenants of Solihull Borough at Damson Park
With both clubs struggling to secure gates big enough to sustain the two teams, the merger of both seemed an obvious way forward and formed in the summer of 2007, Solihull Moors Football Club became one of the youngest clubs in senior English football. The new club took the place of Moor Green in the Blue Square Conference North.
Bob Faulkner, the Moor Green manager was given the job to take the new club forward, but Borough Boss Mickey Moore would return in the new club’s hour of need.
For their first season Bob Faulkner ran with much the same team as the last Moor Green outfit and the Moors first competitive game was a 1-1 draw at home to Barrow AFC on August 11th, 2007, with a 90th minute equalizer from Darren Middleton, earning him the accolade of scoring the first league goal for Solihull Moors. The first win came two weeks later with a 3-1 home victory over Gainsborough Trinity, but the remainder of the campaign proved a struggle with the team rarely out of the bottom six in the league table. Survival was confirmed after the 40th league game of the season with a memorable 2-1 victory at Blyth Spartans on the penultimate Tuesday of the season. Andy Ducros was the goal scoring hero with a brace of goals. The Moors finished 17th in the league with 47 points. There was a decent run in the FA Cup, as the fourth qualifying round was reached. A 3-0 win at Soham Town Rangers, with Jason Moore scoring the first ever Solihull hat trick, and then an unforgettable 2-1 win at Blue Square North leaders Kettering Town. However, Moors failed to reach the first round proper of the FA Cup after a 5-0 defeat at ex Blue Square Premier outfit Rushden & Diamonds.
Eight new signings greeted the start 2008/09 season but it soon proved to be a struggle with only two points being gained from the first five games. In truth, it was the away form which kept the Moors sucked in at the wrong end of the table with only 16 points being collected away from Damson Park. Keeper Danny Crane, the enormous central defender Liam Daly and striker Jake Edwards did, however, suggest that the tide was turning but nevertheless Solihull finished in 16th position, with a better points total than the previous season, so progress of some sort was made.
Whilst the first team was battling at the wrong end of the table, the youth team were having a storming season. They finished as champions of the Midland Floodlit Youth League, finishing ten points clear of AFC Telford United and also reached the second round proper of the FA Youth Cup before finally bowing out 2-0 at home to Tranmere Rovers in a tense, close game. Earlier in the competition, Solihull had caught the attention of many people with a comprehensive 18-0 win over Wellington in a qualifying round. Five of the squad signed for the Senior club during the season.
The 2009/10 campaign saw another poor start despite summer signings which on paper looked good. By mid September Moors were languishing in 21st place. Bob Faulkner brought in 10 more players to stem the tide and a wonderful run between mid January and mid March saw the team up to a healthy 13th in the league. It was all to little avail, however, as by the end of a gruelling season Moors were again back in 17th position having gained only 3 more points in the final 7 games of the season. A total of 42 points
Birmingham and Solihull Bees became tenants of the club during the 2010 close season and would play their rugby matches on either Fridays or Sundays.
By the start of the 2010/11 season, our manager of 25 years, had put together the best by far Moors team we had seen. . Bob said that this team would need time to settle but would score goals. New goal keeper Jasbir Singh ably supported by a formidable defence lead by captain Theo Streete had none of the frailties of previous teams, whilst club stalwart Junior English, new boy Adam Cunnington and the master signing from last season, Ryan Beswick, were able to attack in a manner not seen by supporters for many years . Maintaining a healthy position for the first half of the season, we were all shattered when Bob Faulkner sadly passed away in February. Amazingly this galvanised the team and with Mickey Moore stepping up to fill the empty void the Moors went from strength to strength and with 8 games to go were in the play off places. It was emotional for us all and with a small squad, draining for the players – the momentum slipped and we missed out by 4 points.
During the summer break before the 2011/12 season Mickey Moore decided to take up an offer from Mansfield Town and Marcus Bignot, ex Crewe, Bristol Rovers, QPR and Millwall was announced as his replacement a week later. He inherited a youthful squad but the spark was missing and having won no pre season friendlies, we lost the first seven games of the season. Using his connections in the game, Marcus brought in several new players, and the tide began to turn, so much so that by January the possibility of the play offs seemed achievable. However, it proved impossible to maintain the momentum and by the end of the season the club finished just one point above the drop zone.
2012/13 saw a blend of youth and experience but with only one win the first six outings, manager Bignot brought himself out of retirement for the visit to Droylsden and Moors took all three points in a 4 – 2 score line. Things got a lot better in November when we recorded back to back wins against title chasing Guiseley and Altrincham and by mid season eyes were cautiously cast at the play off positions although by April we were four places adrift of the mark but a creditable ninth league position.
2013/14 saw the successful culmination of efforts to introduce a proper youth structure and ladies/girls section into the club. The number of teams grew from three to twenty seven! The club looked forward to growing it’s own local talent. Most of the previous team stayed and were joined by seven quality players from the Midlands for what was another good season. The team finished eighth in the league having been top at the half way stage whilst gates increased by 80%. Major changes in the basic structure were introduced as Solihull Moors transformed itself into a community interest club.
2014/15 Marcus Bignot decided to run with the nucleus of the previous seasons team bolstered by new signings in the shape of Liam Daly and Tony Breeden from Leamington and Owen Story from Brackley Town. The first half of the season saw Moors in the play off positions but just like the previous campaign results after Christmas were disappointing and the team finished 12th in the league with 55 points. On the Youth/ Community side vastly experienced Mark Fogarty was brought it as the momentum in this area was stepped up and Moors became an established name in the Borough for providing football opportunities for school children and members of society who for a variety of reasons could not find an outlet for their soccer skills.
2015/16 saw 11 new signings with Vanarama National League experience and it was clear as early as the pre season friendlies that this could be the squad to take us up to the National League. We went on an unbeaten run that lasted into December and remained unbeaten away (bar one unfortunate day at Harrogate) throughout the whole season. Having flirted around the top of the table throughout the first half of the season we started the second half as league leaders after taking six points off Nuneaton over the Christmas / New Year holiday period and there we stayed winning the title three weeks before the end of the campaign.
2016/17 and our first season in The National League saw a different looking squad than the one expected following the winning of the National North. Gone were Michael Nottingham (Salford), Club Captain Theo Streete (injury), Gaz Dean, Jimmy Armson and Adam Walker (all Brackley) and our longest serving player by a country mile, Junior English (Worcester). Replacements in the shape of Jamey Osborne (Redditch) Shep Murombedzi (Torquay), Jordan Fagbola (Rochdale), Omari Sterling-James (Cheltenham), and Harry White (Barnsley) completed the picture, whilst the coaching staff was strengthened with the addition of Gary Whild from Kidderminster Harriers and Solihull old boy Mickey Moore back from Mansfield Town. We took 22 points from our first 18 games in the top league - history suggested that form would just about keep us up at the end of the season. However at the end of October Marcus Bignot suddenly quit the club to take over at Grimsby and took with him Whild and Moore (and soon after, Osborne and Asante)
The void was filled by Liam McDonald a 31 year old who had successfully cut his managerial teeth at Redditch and Hednesford. What was about to follow was a massive reorganisation of the coaching and playing staff with younger players, mostly from lower divisions, filling the gaps. With the blend of new talent combined with the experience of those few stalwarts from the previous campaign, a new force under the Captaincy of Liam Daly began to emerge. There was much to learn and the path was rocky but survival was ensured in the penultimate game of the season which saw Moors finish in sixteenth spot with 54 points. Off the pitch The Automated Technology Group Stadium was brought up to National League standard whilst Moors Academy and Community Moors went from strength to strength.
2017/18 saw a miserable start to the season as we propped up the league. Liam McDonald made way for Richard Money, but he quit after just 20 days before Mark Yates took over the reins with Tim Flowers as his assistant. At that stage The Club had played 20 league matches and amassed just eleven points. In his term of office Moors played 26, won 11, drew 10 and lost 5. At home they were unbeaten up to the last game of the season. Had they produced that form throughout the entire season we would certainly have made the play offs.
2018/19. Before a ball had been kicked in anger Mark Yates left to take over at League 2 Macclesfield. Seamlessly Tim Flowers stepped up to the lead role and Gary Whild as his assistant. Several key signings have been made to strengthen the squad and there was an air of expectancy around the club as it embarked on its third year in the top-flight. Indeed, it turned out to be quite the season, as Solihull Moors made club history by gaining their highest ever league finish. The team finished second, just three points behind eventual champions Leyton Orient. The season didn’t quite have the fairy tale ending as AFC Fylde defeated Flowers’ side in the play-off semi-final. Moors ended on 86 points, narrowly missed out on an FA Cup third round tie against Blackpool and reached the FA Trophy quarter-finals.
2019/20. In the summer of 2019, Flowers and his coaching staff signed three-year deals to extend their stay with the club. In came last season’s league top scorer Paul McCallum and former National League champion Mitch Hancox as the Moors built both on and off-the-field – the building of a new main stand being the topic of conversation throughout the off-season. A week before the start of the season one of the league’s stand-out defenders, Callum Howe, joined from Harrogate Town.
In January 2020, Tim Flowers departed with the club sitting just outside the play-off places. Gary Whild and James Quinn took temporary charged of the side while the hunt for a new manager began.
In February 2020, Jimmy Shan was appointed as the new manager of Solihull Moors with Richard Beale coming in as his number two – Gary Whild departed. Geraldo Bajrami, Nick Clayton-Phillips and Dan Jones all arrived on loan, while hot-shot striker Adam Rooney was signed from Salford City as the club made another big statement of intent.
However, in March 2020, the world of football was brought to an abrupt halt by the Coronavirus pandemic. The season was suspended while the country went into a national lockdown, before the 19/20 campaign was decided on a points-per-game basis. Moors narrowly missed out on the play-offs, finishing in ninth position.
After much uncertainty, clubs began to prepare for the start of 2020/21 and the Moors wasted no time in bringing in fresh faces. The likes of Danny Wright, Nathan Blissett and Terry Hawkridge all departed the club and Shan formed a squad ready to compete for the new season.
The Moors permanently moved into their newly renovated training base at Studley Sports Centre and, again, a real buzz was created around the community.
Tasked with changing the brand of football played at the club while aiming for promotion, Shan revamped his squad with a number of additions - in came Cameron Coxe, Jordan Cranston, Callum Maycock, Joe Sbarra, Stephen Gleeson and Jamie Ward to name a few.
Following strict Covid-19 protocols, the National League season finally got underway in October 2020 but without the backing of supporters who could only watch on club live streams, as everyone adapted to a new way of following the games.
The first month or so of the season was promising as Moors sat in the upper echelons of the table and beat League Two Scunthorpe United away from home in the FA Cup. However, the team were severely impacted when a number of key players suffered long-term injuries - Adam Rooney, Callum Howe and Alex Gudger all faced lengthy spells on the sidelines.
With the additional issue of Covid outbreaks and postponements, form became inconsistent and, as we entered 2021, Moors went on a poor run of form and dropped down the table. In March 2021, this signalled the end of Jimmy Shan's reign as he departed the club with assistant Richard Beale.
Moors wasted no time in appointing former manager Mark Yates on a short-term contract until the end of the season, along with his trusted number two Neil Howarth. In 2017/18, Yates guided the club to the remarkable 'Great Escape' and returned to Solihull with 'unfinished business'.
A remarkable run of 11 wins from the final 16 league games almost saw Moors clinch a play-off place against all the odds, finishing five points shy of the top seven. Yates and Howarth returned to Stourbridge as planned, as Moors plotted their next move for a permanent boss.
In came former AFC Wimbledon and Notts County manager Neal Ardley, whose move to the football club was confirmed in June 2021. Greg Abbott also joined the club as a consultant, while first team coach James Quinn was promoted to assistant manager.