The town of Willenhall has a footballing history dating back to the 1890’s when a team called Willenhall Pickwicks were the winners of the Birmingham Junior Cup and champions of the Birmingham Combination in 1909. Willenhall Town Football Club came into existence in 1953 when two local teams –Aston Road Villa and Willenhall R.A.F. Association, amalgamated (the latter involving long-serving Chairman Jack Williams in their set-up).
The club gained its first trophy in season 1970/71, winning the JW Hunt Cup by beating Whitmore Old Boys. Two seasons later, the Dudley Guest Hospital Cup followed for the club.
Joining the newly formed Premier Division of the Staffs County (South) League for season 74/75, the reds went on to what was to see the start of the club’s longest unbeaten run, 29 games which included just one draw and scoring 115 goals whilst conceding just 12, beginning in February 1975 and stretching through until October 1975. This long run of success culminated in Willenhall doing the ‘Double’ of the newly formed Premier Division League and Sporting Star League Cup and gaining promotion to the West Midlands (Regional) League Division 1.
It was at this time that the club moved from Willenhall Memorial Park onto land in Noose Lane, which was purchased by Jack Williams several years before. Williams also purchased the first stand, which he was obtained from Hall Green Greyhound Stadium. The ground was opened in August 1975 by Wolves’ legendary player and manager, Stan Cullis, in time for the club’s inaugural West Midlands League game. The season ended with Willenhall winning the league championship and promotion to the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division.
Season 1980/81 must, however, go down as the most memorable in the club’s history. Floodlights were purchased from Wolverhampton Wanderers, and were erected at a cost of £20,000. Their unveiling was marked with a game against Aston Villa.
On April 27 1981 Willenhall Town Football Club became the first WML team to walk out on the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium, when they encountered Whickham in the Final of the F.A. Vase. An estimated 9,000 fans made the journey to Wembley, but it was not to be as the side from the north-east triumphed 3-2 in extra time thanks to an own goal. All this after the Reds had taken the lead through Don Smith and the late Paul Stringer, before seeing keeper Steve Newton carried off injured and being replaced by star-striker Gary Matthews in goal.
On the 21st November 1981, a ground record of 3,454 saw Willenhall Town entertain Crewe Alexandra in the First Round Proper of the F.A. Cup the following season, suffering an undeserved 1-0 defeat. To soften the blow, promotion into the Southern League Midland Division was achieved in the season.
The following season saw the club go on a fantastic run up until Christmas dropping only 2 point in the first 19 league games. Disaster was to strike as a financial crisis almost saw the club closed in that first week of 1984 and the loss of manager Newton, whose attempt to purchase the club failed, saw him and half the team leave. However, enough had been done to ensure that new manager Ian Cooper would guide the Reds comfortably to promotion to the Southern League Premier Division.
The club’s highest ever position in the pyramid, 4th was achieved the following season as the club saw inspectors from the Football Conference inspect the ground for promotion to the top tier of non-league football.
In season1987/88, the Reds reached the 4th qualifying round of the F.A. Cup, but a 6-0 home defeat to eventual Conference Champions Barnet, complete with manager Barry Fry, saw the end of the run. That same season saw the club relegated for the first time in their history.
In October 2000 a fire came close to destroying the Noose Lane club-house. With no income, manager and players drifted away, leaving reserve team boss Martin Thomas to pick up the pieces. A team made up of youngsters promoted from the reserves lifted the club from 20th to 8th in the Midland Football Alliance.
The Golden Jubilee season of 2003/4 however, would see Willenhall win promotion to the Unibond League Division 1 South. A fantastic run of eight wins from the last nine games saw them clinch top spot on the final day of the season.
2005/06 saw Willenhall transfer to the Western Division of the Southern League, where near financial melt-down coincided with the management team leaving with the club appointing Mel Eves as replacement manager.
In May 2009 the Club’s Noose Lane ground was put up for sale and sold in time for the Season 2010/11. The highlight of this was striker Mitch Fellows winning the MFA Golden Boot award.
In December 2011, a Limited Company, ‘The Lockmen Limited’, was setup to manage the clubs affairs going forward.
Since the 2013/14 season, the Reds have played their home games at Long Lane, Essington. Present manager Matt Whitehouse took over the managerial reigns in In October 2013 after serving the club as player and Coach.
In August 2014, the club achieved the coveted Chartered Standard award.
In April 2015, the club won the BFA Midweek Floodlit Cup beating Gornal Athletic 4-3 on Penalties.
Willenhall Town’s League History
1953-1968 Wolverhampton and District League
1968-1975 Staffs County (South) League
1975-1982, 1991-94 West Midlands (Regional) League (WML)
1982-1991, 2005-08 Southern League
1994-2004 (Founder members) 2010/12 Midlands Football Alliance
2004-2005, 2008-10 Northern Premier League
2012– West Midlands Regional League Premier Division (WMRL)