Beacon boys were a hit in county cups

As we all moved into a new millennium the Beacon Sunday League membership were very much a dominant force on the Midland cup scene.

Over a memorable period from 2000 to 2016, the Beacon flag was flying high as a total of 14 teams made it through to contest no fewer than 11 prestigious Birmingham County FA cup finals.

In a run that saw the league secure seven memorable victories, six in the BCFA Amateur Sunday Cup (formerly Junior Cup) and one in the higher ranked Sunday Vase, the strength of the league was never more evident, and it also provided both finalists on three occasions, the first time in 2005.

The league has every right to feel proud of its outstanding record in these outside cup competitions during such a long period, no wonder former player, now league vice-chairman and secretary Simon Cater said: “Reaching the final of the county cup is a fantastic achievement for any club.

“I was fortunate to experience this and to win with Perton Village in 2005. The memories are something that you treasure for a lifetime.”

While the league had claimed five successes in the Junior Cup between 2005 and 2011, it was not until 2015 that the Beacon set up finally celebrated glory in the Vase, the honour going to Sportsman.

Having finished premiership runners-up on the domestic front, Sportsman found themselves facing fellow league rivals and runaway champions Cottage Spring Castle who, under different names, had previously won the Junior Cup twice and lost narrowly in the 2012 Vase final.

It looked a tall order for Sportsman, having finished nine points down on Cottage in the league battle, but they took the spoils thanks to a first-half strike from John Batchelor, who was playing his final game before retiring.

However, Castle Youth did not miss out, far from it, on county glory during a long and successful Beacon membership. Indeed, they created history for the league when they became its first club to win back-to-back Sunday Junior Cups in 2010 and 2011. They first lifted the trophy after an extra-time thriller against fellow league opponents, premier champions Oakdale Social. The clash had finished 3-3 after 90 minutes, before Castle emerged 6-4 victors. Dean Lacey was a hat-trick hero for Castle with Chris Turner, Mark Edwards and James Cooper also netting. On the domestic front, Castle also claimed the Lester and Premier cups.

Twelve months later, Castle retained the silverware when a double strike from Mark Edwards clinched a 2-1 victory over Beaufort United. A year later, now under the name of Phoenix Castle (formerly Castle Youth), the club slipped to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Punchbowl Saints in the county Vase final.

AFC Codsall were the inaugural Beacon League outfit to reach a BCFA final, but they were edged out 1-0 in the 2000 Junior Cup final at the hands of Coventry-based Barley Mow Rangers, as were first division champions Tipton Town Sports 5-3 (after extra-time) by Folly Lane BCOB in 2003.

Pensnett Panthers are pictured celebrating after tasting success in the Birmingham Junior Cup in 2009

Eight years on and the same Codsall club celebrated success in the same competition. Snow led to the final being put back two weeks before Codsall triumphed over Wolverhampton Sunday League side Bilston Market Tavern 4-2, goals from Chris Jones (two), Liam Brookes (penalty) and Mark Elson.

The first all-Beacon final on the county front came in 2005, when Perton Village put the icing on the cake, after domestic Lester Charity and Premier Cup triumphs, when hitting back to defeat Nacro by the odd goal in three, with strikes from Romildo Consiglio and Adrian Rickuss.

The name of Pensnett Panthers appears on the Junior Cup twice, but they were entirely different clubs, and glory for the first came in 2009, some seven years before the success of the outfit who were to carry the same name.

A year after AFC Codsall had celebrated glory, Pensnett retained the trophy for the league when two goal Mark Cooper helped end an unbeaten 21-match sequence held by opponents Sedgley Conservatives (W’ton Sunday).

For the first time, the Beacon League had a representative in both BCFA finals in 2016. But whereas the new former Panthers, run by Alan Cartwright, defeated Solihull and District League outfit Meadway Sports 2-1, treble winners on the home front, Dynamo Dudley crashed 6-0 to a strong Wolverhampton Casuals Sunday outfit in the Vase final.

In what was the renamed Amateur Cup, second-half strikes from Ryan Cartwright and Steve Jeavons earned the Panthers success and kept up the league’s proud record in the competition.

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