In 1994 Coleshill Town Football Club were awarded a certificate from the Football Association in recognition of 100 years affiliation to the FA. This however does not tell the whole story as Coleshill had been playing football, all be it in friendly or challenge matches, since 1885. The first ever recorded game was in November 1885 against Acocks Green. The Chairman was Mr E. Watson and the uniform of dark navy blue jerseys, white knickerbockers and blue and white caps, was supplied by local tailor Alfred Dabbs. The club was then known as Coleshill & District Football Club, the District was dropped a few years later and Town added many years later but the town of Coleshill has always had a football team since that date except during the war years. In those early years Coleshill entered many local cup competitions and made four semi finals before eventually making their first final, the Edgbaston Challenge Cup, in 1898, unfortunately losing to Cambridge Rovers. In 1906 they applied and were accepted into the Birmingham Youth & Old Boys League for the first time. In 1910 Coleshill won the Coleshill Charity Cup as well as the Tamworth Nursing Cup.
The Coleshill Charity Cup was commissioned in 1905 at a cost of 50 guineas and first played for in 1909. Played on Easter Bank Holiday Monday it became an important event in the Coleshill calendar. Crowds of up to 2500 were not unusual. Coleshill won the trophy nine times, but by the late 1960’s they had withdrawn from the competition as it was felt that due to the level of football they were playing (Mid Com) it was not in the spirit of the charity trophy to continue. From that point the competition lost some of its appeal and it slowly petered out although there is some talk of bringing it back in some form. Today the trophy is estimated to be worth in the region of £3000.
Coleshill’s early knickname was “Coleshillites” but this changed to the “Rabbits” as Coleshill’s hospitality became famous for its delicious rabbit pies. They have also been known as “The Greens” because of the colour of their strips and more recently as “The Colemen”.
Coleshill remained in the BYOB league up to the First World War and when they reformed again they joined the Sutton and District Amateur League. They remained in the Sutton league, only breaking for the Second World War, until 1956 when they joined the Birmingham Youth and Old Boys League again believing this to be a step up in standard. During this period Coleshill Town often did battle with local rivals Coleshill Hall but the two clubs merged in 1964 and by 1967 Coleshill Town were Runners Up in the league and had won both the Aston Villa Cup and the Queens Hospital Cup. Another step up in standard saw them join Division 2 of the Worcestershire Combination in 1968 and they won a league and cup double in 1970. One of the catalysts for success during that period was the signing of former professional Tim Rawlings, ex West Bromwich Albion, Walsall and Port Vale, who to this day remains the only player to be born in Coleshill and play in the Football League as well as for his home town club.
Coleshill were refused promotion due to their facilities, “The Memorial Ground” not meeting the higher league standards. A new home ground had to be found and due to the persistence, determination and dedication of Percy Hastings, Coleshill moved to Pack Meadow in 1974, where they still remain. Promotion was secured in 1975 to the top flight of the now Midland Combination, and there they stayed, apart from one season, for more than thirty years. That one season incidentally, was relegation to Division 1 in 2000, which remains the only time Coleshill have ever been relegated in their entire history.
Coleshill’s greatest achievements during that time saw them MFC Premiership runners up in 1983/84, missing the title on the last day of the season and winning the Walsall Senior Cup in 1983.
Other highlights included a run in the Birmingham Senior Cup in 1988/89 beating Birmingham City at St Andrews then holding Wolverhampton Wanderers to a draw. The replay at Molineux was against a Wolves first team including outstanding young strikers Steve Bull and Andy Mutch. The Colemen more than matched their Black Country opponents for over an hour. Although Town tired and conceded late goals they prevented Steve Bull from scoring, something that Scotland failed to achieve at Hampden Park a few weeks later. John Taylor scored against Birmingham City making him the first Coleshill player to score against a professional team. Since then only two players have been able to join him in that accolade, Matty Robinson in 2009/10 against Burton Albion and Danny Carter against Birmingham City again, in 2010/11, both in the Birmingham Senior Cup.
Coleshill Town qualified to play in the FA Vase in 1975 and then the FA Cup in 1983. In the Vase the furthest they have been in the competition is the 3rd round in 2007/08, when after beating Bolehall Swifts, Leek CSOB and Barwell they lost to Blackstones. In the FA Cup it was 2010/11 that Coleshill made headlines. They had already beaten Brocton, Heather St John, Evesham and Lincoln United to make it to the 3rd Qualifying Round to face Nuneaton Town. Unfortunately that’s where the fairy tale ended, 6-0 in front of a crowd of 965.
Famous former players include Danny Hagen, the former Irish International who played in the UEFA Cup Final for Wolves in 1972, but our greatest son is without doubt Gary Shaw who was picked up by Aston Villa whilst playing for Coleshill as a sixteen year old.
In more recent times the club enjoyed the 1997/98 season under Martin Socket who led the side to the top of the Premiership table before leaving to join VS Rugby. A succession of managers then came and went, usually taking all the players with them. Colin Strong couldn’t avoid relegation in 2000 but led them back to the top flight the following year. Mick Beadle steadily improved the side in the four years he was with the club, setting a new club record of 802 minutes without conceding a goal and nine consecutive wins in 2006/07.
During the summer of 2006 Coleshill Town became a Limited company with local businessman Nigel Jones at the helm. The Pack Meadow ground was owned by a local trust but Jones managed to purchase the ground, something that was thought not to be possible, and appointed Paul Woodford as Chairman to oversee the development of the facilities. Woodford then replaced Beadle with former Kettering player and Bedworth Assistant Manager Carl Adams who was appointed manager in September 2008 and in just 7 months, he led Coleshill to the Midland Combination Premier Championship for the first time in the club’s history, clawing back a 22 point deficit to pip Highgate United to the title, by goal difference, on the last day of the season.
With Pack Meadow now reaching the required standard, Coleshill were promoted to the Midland Alliance, their highest ever level on the non-league pyramid, for the start of the 2008/09 season. They finished their first season in the Alliance in 11th place and won the Tony Allden Trophy.. but fifteen games into the 2009/10 season Carl Adams stood down quoting family and work commitments the reason for his departure. Neil Kitching and Martin Socket were quickly installed as a joint management team and finished in a creditable 8th place.
Coleshill made headlines in the non-league papers and even some daily papers in 2009 when Wilson Palacios moved from Wigan Athletic to Tottenham Hotspur for £14 million. It appears that the Honduran International had made his first ever appearance in England at Coleshill’s Pack Meadow ground whilst on trial with Birmingham City. The game had hastily been arranged specifically to see if Palacios could make the grade, 45 minutes and two goals later, it was decided he definitely would!
Kitching and Socket’s potential was quickly noticed and they were snapped up by Rushall Olympic during that summer, and so Carl Adams was asked to once again take the reigns for the 2010/11 season and an almost identical record as the previous year saw Coleshill finish in 12th place. That season Dosthill Colts had become tenants at Pack Meadow but they had become the dominant force on the committee, especially when Paul Woodford stepped down and Dostill’s Paul Billing became Coleshill’s Chairman. Nigel Jones had took a back seat and even put the ground up for sale and so the future of the club seemed uncertain but fortunately Coleshill Town Football Club were able to take their place in the Midland Alliance for the start of the 2011/12 season to maintain their 126 years of football in the town.
Unfortunatley it was a campaign that saw Coleshill flirt with relegation and another year in the Midland Alliance was only confirmed in the penultimate game of the season with a win over Dunkirk. Manager Carl Adams resigned shortly after the last game and was quickly replaced by his previous assistant Jason Lanns, his first taste of management.