Club Info - Club History
TAMWORTH F.C. CLUB HISTORY
With the 80th birthday of The Lambs quickly approaching, a place in the top flight of non league football is a far cry from the humble beginnings of Tamworth FC.
The demise of Tamworth Castle FC in 1933 left the town with no senior level football club, but a campaign involving a town businessman and the local newspaper set the wheels in motion to form another club, and so Tamworth FC was born. The original ground on which the team played was next to the now demolished Jolly Sailor pub, and from 1934 onwards The Lamb became the club's new home, where they remain to this day. The club played its early football in the Birmingham Combination, switching to the Birmingham League (now known as the West Midlands League) in the 1950s, but it wasn't until the 1960s that the club achieved notable success. Two League Championships were won in that time, along with numerous victories in the League Cup, Birmingham Senior Cup and Staffordshire Senior Cup. The club also reached the First Round of the FA Cup on two occasions, and on the second of those occasions they progressed to the Second Round by virtue of a 2-1 victory over Torquay United at The Lamb.
These were good times indeed for Tamworth FC, but it wasn't to last. Despite gaining entry to the Southern League in 1972, the club's fortunes went on a dramatic slide as the 1970s proved to be as cruel to Tamworth FC as the 1960s were kind. Attendances fell to record low levels, The Lamb fell into disrepair and it became a major effort just to keep the club alive. However, in 1984, a consortium of local businessmen (including the current Chairman Bob Andrews) took the club over and set about restoring it to its former glory. The club returned to the West Midlands League and gradually found their feet again, eventually winning the Championship in 1988 and regaining their Southern League status after a gap of four years.
The following season however saw Tamworth go on to even greater things. The club reached the final of the FA Vase, and, on May 6th 1989 in front of a Wembley crowd of 26,487 (the record attendance for the Vase final at the ‘old' Wembley), they played out a 1-1 draw with Sudbury Town. A replay at Peterborough followed four days later, and the Lambs won 3-0 to give the club, and the town, one of its finest moments ever.
That Vase triumph should have been the catalyst for the club to move on still further, but surprisingly that expected success did not materialize immediately. Vase winning manager Graham Smith left the club two years later and four other managers came and went in the space of the next four seasons as Tamworth consistently struggled to finish in mid-table positions. Then, in February 1995, former Birmingham City player Paul Hendrie was appointed to the managerial hot seat. His impact on the club was instant as he turned another mediocre season around, eventually guiding the Lambs to within a point of promotion. Things were suddenly looking more promising again, and in 1996/97 the Southern League Midland Division Championship that the Tamworth fans so craved was won by the remarkable margin of 26 points.
Tamworth's first season in the Premier Division of the Southern League was one of consolidation and the side came within a whisker of defeating league clubs in the FA Cup 1st Round on two occasions.
More seeds of success were sown in January 2001, when former European Cup winner Gary Mills was appointed manager. The Lambs were languishing in the bottom four of the Dr Martens Premier Division at the time, and staring relegation squarely in the face. In the space of just over a year he turned the club around, firstly by saving the club from the drop, and then by masterminding a fantastic Championship challenge in the 2001/02 season, which ended in heartbreaking fashion on the final day. However, just a few weeks later, Gary left Tamworth to take up the post of First Team Coach at Coventry City, and the club moved swiftly to appoint his assistant Darron Gee in the hot seat.
Having been through the last day heartbreak of April 2002, Darron, and indeed the club as a whole, started the 2002/03 campaign with a renewed sense of purpose, determined not to slip up again and they were confirmed as Southern League Champions with 3 weeks left of the season but failed to lift the FA Trophy after a storming run to the final, taking 12,000 fans to Villa Park.
Gee stepped down to join Mills at Notts County and another former Birmingham City player Mark Cooper stepped up as the new manager along with his friend and fellow team mate Richard Dryden as his assistant. They were rewarded with two fantastic FA Cup runs halted only in a replay in the Third Round Proper by penalty kicks against Stoke City in 2005-6 and a live BBC TV fixture against Championship side Norwich City in 2006-7 which also ended in defeat. Lack of progress in the league saw the duo leave The Lamb in January 2007and Gary Mills was welcomed back to The Lamb, six years and 7 days since he last took charge.
Promotion to the back Conference National achieved with a game to spare in 2008-09 and after a battling 2009-10 season, Mills and Gee departed for York City a couple of months into last season.
After a few games as caretaker manager, former Nottingham Forest star Des Lyttle, who had been at The Lamb since August 2007 as a player and as part of the coaching staff, was officially handed the reins but stepped down with four games to go and relegation a distinct possibility. So, academy coaches Dale Belford and Steve Hinks along with club captain Jay Smith took charge and it went to the wire, but a first televised victory ensured a nervy survival with 14 minutes of the season remaining.
Once the dust had settled on 2010-11, Marcus Law arrived at The Lamb as the new gaffer and FA Cup success came once again. Prior to his sad passing in December 2011, long serving Club President Len Gendle predicted the FA Cup victory at Gateshead and The Lambs went on to be narrowly defeated by Premiership side Everton in a 3rd Round match at Goodison Park.
Law rebuilt his squad during the summer of 2012 but found the going increasingly tougher and this cost him his position in early January 2013 meaning his assistant, Dale Belford, was asked to step in as caretaker manager once again and rescue the club from the drop with the highest ever top flight points haul.
Dale continued as permanent boss into the 2013-14 season, although the side was ultimately relegated from the Conference Premier. A proud new Club President, 100 year old Lambs supporter Joe Perry heralded the Conference North season, but poor results continued and Belford parted by mutual consent to be replaced by new boss, successful former Wrexham player manager Andy Morrell.
Andy and assistant Mike Fowler revitalised the club and took the essence of the side on a World beating 12 game winning run narrowly missing out on the playoffs in the process before rebuilding for 2015-16.