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History-making Castle were up for the cups

By Nick Elwell | Grassroots | Published:

After a year adjusting to adult football Castle Youth were to emerge as one of the knockout kings on the local grassroots scene.

In the fifth in a series of Beacon Sunday League flashback features, this week’s spotlight falls on a club that had a knack of winning cup competitions, while glory on the league front was only experienced once!

During their eight-season membership of the local afternoon set up Castle, who changed their name three times, celebrated their one and only league title in their penultimate season, yet saw triumph in various domestic and county cups on no fewer than eight occasions.

Having switched from junior football (Bilston Youth League) the Castle boys finished an impressive third in their debut Division One campaign, but only on goal difference from runners-up Codsall Athletic. Nevertheless, they were still promoted to the Premier section under the guidance of John Wright.

It was in their second season that the club began to make other Beacon sides sit up and take notice as they took third spot in the Premier table, while pulling off a memorable treble in cup football, including success in the prestigious Birmingham County FA Junior Cup with a thrilling 6-4 extra-time win over fellow league opponents Oakdale.

Indeed, that same term they went on to lift the league’s flagship Lester Cup and Premier Cup to complete an excellent hat-trick – and that was just for starters.

And, would you believe it, 12 months on and they repeated that same impressive treble after becoming the first Beacon club to win back-to-back BCFA Junior Cups, defeating Coventry-based outfit Beaufort United 2-1 in the final, as two second-half goals from Mark Edwards inflicted the damage.

Castle kept the champagne flowing that year with Lester Cup (Sportsman Saints 3-1) and Premier Cup (Sedgley White Lions 8-1) wins, while finishing third again when it came to the league championship.

The first of three name changes followed for the start of the 2011/12 season and under the banner of Phoenix Castle they carried on the good work, making league history by becoming the first Beacon team to reach the final of the BCFA Sunday Vase, only to suffer a narrow 1-0 defeat against Birmingham Coronation League outfit Punchbowl.

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Red alert – Castle Youth line up for a team photograph during the 2009-10 season

Having missed out to eventual champions Lock FC in the race for the Premier crown that same season, Phoenix Castle did not finish empty handed as they made it three successive Premier Cup triumphs with a 5-3 victory over Shere Punjab at Wolverhampton Casuals.

The Phoenix Castle name battled for further glory over the next two seasons but it was a case of so near, yet so far away as they finished Premier league runners-up twice and lost out to Walsall Wood (in a penalty shoot-out) in 2013.

There was, however, a great determination about this club and another name change to Cottage Spring Castle (CSC) for the start of the 2014/15 term saw them finally get their hands of the much sought after Premier league trophy.

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They also reached the county Sunday Vase for a second time, but lost out 1-0 to fellow Beacon side Sportsman (who were league runners-up), a first-half goal from Jason Batchelor proving the difference. But there was one final trophy win for CSC as they experienced a third Lester Cup success, defeating Bushbury Rovers 2-0.

Over those successful years, three strikers certainly caught the eye and hit no fewer than 218 goals between them.

Mark Edwards led the way with a total of 97, closely followed by James Cooper 82 and Lee Blake 39. Edwards and Blake emerged top Premier scorer in 2013 and 2016 respectively.

For their last Beacon campaign the club, now under the name of Old Bulls Head, were league runners-up and they also went down 3-0 to champions Dynamo Dudley in the Premier Cup final.

Castle Youth, as they started out, certainly made a big impression on the Beacon League and those who represented the club have every right to feel proud of what they achieved. They were league history makers and you cannot take that away them.

Words and pictures courtesy of Dave McLean and Simon Cater.

The Beacon League are looking for new teams for next season. Anyone interested should contact general secretary David Clinton on 07964 730275

Nick Elwell

By Nick Elwell
Grassroots Sports Editor

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