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🔎 The Opposition: Walsall FC

Jed Penberthy has the lowdown on the Saddlers

20 January 2022

A short trip up the M5 to Walsall is next on Matt Taylor and his side's calendar.

Here is a rundown of Saturday’s opponents from the Black Country…

  • Founded: 1888
  • Nickname: The Saddlers
  • Honours: League 2 (2006/07), Fourth Division (1959/60)
  • Home Kit: ERREA red shirts with white and green trim, white shorts, green socks
  • Away Kit: ERREA Green shirt with white bubble print, green shorts white socks
  • Form: DWDLL (15th in League 2)

History

The bird on the Walsall FC crest directly links to the formation of the Club. Two of the leading teams in the area during the 1880’s were the Walsall Swifts and Walsall Town. In 1888 the two decided to join forces as Walsall Town Swifts and changed the name in 1895 to just simply, Walsall.

The nickname ‘The Saddlers’ reflects town’s status as the home of the leather industry. During the First World War, one single saddlery company from Walsall supplied an incredible 100,000 saddles for the British Army, in one year alone.   

The Saddlers are Original Members of both the old Third and Fourth Divisions and won their first Fourth Division title in the 1959/60 season managed by Billy Moore. They got promoted again in 1961 to reach the Second Division for the first time in their history.

ECFC v WFC.jpg

After back-to-back relegations in 1979/80 to drop back to Div 4, Walsall returned to Division 2, eight years later.

At the end of the century Walsall would find themselves in Division 1 (The Championship) where they spent 4 of the next 5 years, before another double relegation found the Saddlers back in the basement tier.

In 2006/07, Walsall won their second title, pipping Hartlepool to the League Two trophy on the final day of the season, to regain League 1 status. After twelve years in the third tier Walsall were relegated back to League 2 in 2019, and finished 12th before the curtailment.

The Saddlers are sitting in fifteenth going into Saturday’s fixture but after losing two games on the bounce, Walsall will be looking to improve their form going into the second half of the season.

The Manager     

Matthew Taylor

Don’t worry, we’re not sneakily announcing the departure of our boss. Matthew Taylor was a Premier League midfielder in his hay-day, not the world’s best centre-half. Oxford born Taylor began his career at Luton Town making his debut at 17.

Walsall Matthew Taylor.jpg

In 2002, Taylor made his name on the South coast with Portsmouth, earning a couple of England youth caps in this time. Whilst at Fratton Park Matty Taylor, a specialist from range, scored some of the Premier League’s most iconic goals. After 178 games for Pompey, Taylor moved to Bolton for three years, then West Ham for a further three.

In the twilight of his career, Taylor found himself at Swindon where he took interim charge in 2019. After a few worrying betting site odds on our Matt Taylor going to Walsall in pre-season, it was Matthew Taylor who was evidently confirmed as the Saddlers’ gaffer.  

The Ground

  • Name: Banks’s Stadium
  • Capacity: 11,300
  • Year opened: 1990
  • Address: Bescot Crescent, Walsall, West Midlands, WS1 4SA

The £4.5m stadium was opened in 1990 to replace the old Fellows Park, where Walsall FC had played since its inception. The Bescot Stadium (now Banks’s due to sponsorship) was opened by Sir Stanley Matthews.

Banks Stadium.JPG

The ground is almost iconic to away fans up and down the country, as it sits just off the M6, and within walking distance of the nearest railway line.

Plans to redevelop the ground were scuppered due to Walsall’s failure to secure Championship status, but the initial idea to help fund the project was to use the back of the away end as an advertising board for the M6- making it the largest motorway billboard in Europe.

One to Watch

George Miller

Striker

On loan from Barnsley but doing the business in the Black Country, George Miller has settled in at the Banks’s Stadium well. With seven strikes to his name including a brace last time he face Exeter City, Miller tops the charts for Walsall.

Miller Walsall.jpg

The 24-year-old began his career in the Bury set-up making his senior debut against his new parent club Barnsley in 2016. His success at Bury earned him a move to Middlesbrough before returning to Bury on loan in 2018.

Three successive years at League Two loans, Miller has re-found his early career form this term and will pose City the most danger on Saturday.

Head to Head

When Exeter do play Walsall the one thing that is certain is goals- apart from this season. In 80 meetings between the two, 262 goals have been scored at an average of over 3 per game.

Before October’s stalemate there has only ever been one 0-0 draw, in a League Cup game in 1993. Walsall have had the lion’s share of the wins over Exeter, though City have one win and three draws from the last five league meetings.

  • Exeter Wins: 26
  • Draws: 16
  • Walsall Wins: 40

Recent Encounters

Exeter City 2 Walsall 2 | Sky Bet League Two | St James Park | October 2, 2021

Tim Dieng and Sam Nombe were on the scoresheet as the Saddlers stole a draw at the Park.

Exeter City 0 Walsall 0 | Sky Bet League Two | St James Park | March 2, 2021

Tom Parkes was denied by the flag and Ben Seymour came close as City were held to a goalless draw.

Walsall 0 Exeter City 0 | Sky bet League Two | Banks’s Stadium | October 17, 2020

Nothing could separate the two teams at the Banks’s Stadium as City earned a hard-fought draw at the hands of one of the league’s in-form sides.

And finally...

Walsall were one of the clubs that experimented with live music to entertain fans before matches in the 1960’s. In the 1964-65 season local beat band The Jaguars, managed by a Saddlers season ticket holder Roy Hawkins, played at Fellows Park.  


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