Darlaston All Saints FC
This Black Country club is my current obsession, and I am trying earnestly to nail where their ground was. I didnt put them in the 'Lost Teams' book, simply because so little is known about them, that I would have been stretched to make even a single page. Apart from some team line-ups from the 1879-1881 period, and the fact that they sprang from the church of the same name on Darlaston Road, we know little else.
In Victorian times, 'Darlaston' extended towards Walsall to the Pleck district, and James Bridge -the location of the All Saints ground-would not nowadays be considered to be in Darlaston at all, as it was a small area of about 500 yards radius from the Railway Tavern at the rear of Bentley Cemetary at the bottom of Bentley Mill Road. There used to be a railway station where is the railway bridge going under the Walsall Rd by Kendricks Road. There was a hive of heavy industry in the James Bridge area, not the least the gigantic James Bridge Copper Works by the canal and several other foundries. I suspect that DAS used either the Railway Tavern or the much older Globe Inn as their headquarters.
As to their 'ground'- I have almost nothing to go on; it was said to be a terrible ground, possibly even not having any grass on it ! I have been doing site visits as I only live a couple of miles away, and have considered three locations which draw me on Victorian O.S.maps. There was a small 1.6 acre field to the side of the Globe Inn (but that was only 100 x 60 yrds, leaving no room for any spectators, so I think that was too small); a bigger 4 acre field furthur along towards Walsall, where now stands a row of Victorian terraces houses between the Globe and the M6 bridge, which later had an electricity station built on it; also a suitably 'terrible' but large field setback behind the Globe PH. It shows scars of surface mining for iron/copper ore, is bounded by Bentley Mill Lane and the canal, but is a good size with plenty of room for any speactators, as DAS sometimes got 500 to 800 crowds.
However, all the above fields are quite level, including the 'horse-fields' which face the T junction of Bentley Mill Way and Darlaston Road, where the gas holders are.The football field and tennis courts presently at the corner of Heath Rd and Walsall Rd (by the roundabout) WAS there in the 1880s, but not as large as it is toady, as it was two fields, and the one had buildings on it, which meant that it wasnt big enough for a football ground then.
A match report from 1880 talks of the ground having a slope, so I am now looking at the fields on the other side of the road, facing the petrol station by the traffic island, by the Gala Bingo and the Aqualux factory on Steelmans Road. No photos of the team exist, or even their colours, except that they usually defeated rivals Darlaston Town by scores like 4-2, 4-0 etc, and that they ran a 2nd team too.Team captain Harry Darlington and the Phillips brothers were the backbone of the side.
I think DAS had a bad reputation as well as a bad ground too. When Aston Unity went there in 1879-and won 5-2- they were taken aback by the 'strange nature' of the DAS ground, leading me to think that it was some sort of waste land or former slag spoil land. More news when I get it.