The Stourport Swifts Story
In the year 1882 the first recorded club was established in the town, the members meeting for practice in a field near the Station Hotel (now the Brindley Arms). The name of 'SWIFTS' was given to the team by the promoters, the colours being dark blue jerseys with a white swift on the chest and white knickerbockers. After practicing for a considerable time near the Station Hotel, the club moved to Bewdley Road near the New Inn, where the first matches were played.
The Swifts changed their ground several times, before in 1906 moving to Olive Grove. The 1912-13 season saw the team capture their first honours, winning both the Worcester and Bromsgrove Charity Cups. Just before the outbreak of the First World War the Swifts reached their first County Cup Final, but were beaten 3-1 by the then powerful Badsey Rangers. After the war the Swifts came back with a vengeance and between 1925 and 1927 produced a historic hat-trick of County Cup wins. Twenty years passed before the Swifts lifted the trophy again, and another 35 years until 1982 when they reached the final again, but lost 2-0 to Metal Box. During this time Swifts moved to their present ground at the Walshes Meadow. The 1970-71 season saw the return of Stourport Swifts to the First Division of the Worcester League after an absence of many years.
In 1979, after eight seasons in the Worcester League, the Swifts were elected to Division Two of the West Midlands (Regional) League. After consolidating their position for half a dozen seasons, they gained promotion to Division One in 1986, after finishing fourth in the league.
The Swifts first year in Division One saw them finishing last but one, just avoiding relegation, but the following campaign saw them finish runners-up to Rocester and earn promotion to the Premier Division. After a struggle in the initial season, the Swifts gradually improved each year, and in the 1991-92 season they finished 3rd after heading the division for most of the season.
Following this in 1992-93, they won the Premier Division Cup and the Worcester Senior Urn.
The 1993-94 season was another successful season which saw the club finish runners-up in the Premier Division and pull off another cup double, again winning the Worcester Senior Urn as well as the Worcester Infirmary Cup, beating Bromsgrove Rovers on both occasions.
Despite finishing runners-up in the Premier Division, they failed to be elected to the newly formed Midland Football Alliance.
In 1994-95 Swifts finished in 3rd place and successfully defended the Worcester Senior Urn for the 3rd year running and the Worcester Infirmary Cup for the 2nd year running.
1995-96 saw them finish in 5th place and the league and retain the Worcester Infirmary Cup.
In 1996-97 they again finished runners-up in the West Midlands League Premier Division but a year later after finishing runners-up for the 3rd time, they were promoted to the Midland Football Alliance and also added the Worcester Senior Urn and Worcester Infirmary Cup.
The Swifts played at their highest ever level in the Southern League. Their best ever finish has been 8th in their first campaign and have since finished 17th, 18th, 14th, 20th, 22nd, 17th, 16th, 17th and 17th over time.
STOURPORT SWIFTS – a recent history
In 1965 John McDonald became secretary of Stourport Swifts and the Club you see today began to take shape.
In the last 50 years, the Swifts, founded in 1882, and the oldest Club in the County, have progressed steadily to the Midland Football League Premier Division, which is Step 5 on the Football League pyramid.
In 1970, the changing rooms were in an old outbuilding, now owned by Walshes Farm Caravan Park, some 100 yards away, and over time these were renovated, with showers, toilet facilities and electricity installed.
The pitch, although a decent size, was heavily populated with weeds, and before each game the players would have to remove, on some occasions, some 200 molehills before the matches could begin.
Several professional experts were called in to discuss the mole problem, but none felt they could do anything to solve it. Groundsman at the time, Duncan Pinnegar, set to with his trusty traps, and over a period of 4 years, eventually secured a clean bill of health for the pitch.
No fence was in place around the ground, and no conifers in place to prevent the loss of many balls in the River Severn. Kindly fishermen and boatmen from Worcester returned many footballs with the Stourport Swifts name on them, often several weeks after they were lost.
The old stand, now replaced by the modern 250 seat version you see today, was made of wood and corrugated iron which leaked heavily over the years when it rained.
Several attempts were made to bring the changing facilities next to the pitch, but each time these were vandalised, and twice burned to the ground.
The Swifts progressed from the Worcester League into the West Midland League, where there were some notable successes in both League and County Cup form.
Ron Bradley, former WBA player and also former coach to the national team in Libya, was a manager to note in the 70’s, followed by former player Richard Leach, who can be seen on most match days when the weather is not too inclement.
Former Mayor of Stourport, Roy Crowe, became chairman at that time. Roy remained Life President of the club until he passed away at the age of 88 on December 3rd 2016.
The pitch was fenced in, a requirement for progression through the higher levels of non league football, and work began on the Clubhouse you see today in the 1980’s, with players and officials digging out foundations by hand.
The bar in the Clubhouse was salvaged from the Wheatsheaf pub in Stourport town centre when it went through some extensive refurbishment, and the Club was decorated in the current style by decorator and committee man Dave Watts, who is sadly no longer with us.
Pat Lynch and Harriers legend Phil Mullen, became the management team in the late 80’s and early 90’s and the Swifts progressed to the Premier Division of the West Midlands League, and won the Worcestershire Senior Urn three times during their spell in charge.
Chris Reynolds took over as Chairman in 1992 and John McDonald secured funding for the building of the new stand in the same year. Despite the team finishing runners up in the Premier Division in 1994, they failed to gain promotion to the new Midland Football Alliance.
That promotion came 4 years later, in 1998, and in 2001, with Rod Brown in charge, Stourport Swifts took and incredible 34 points from their last 12 matches of the season to pip Rushall Olympic to the Midland Football Alliance title. Lee Booth scored 40 goals that season, and Rod Brown was voted Manager of the Year
The Swifts were promoted to the Southern League in 2002, and enjoyed their highest level of football over the next ten years in this Division.
The Non League Pyramid was re organised in 2013 and the Swifts secured a place in the Midland League Premier Division, which significantly reduced travelling on match days. Hereford, after being declared bankrupt for the second time, were denied entrance into the Southern League, and placed in the Midland Premier Division.
On the 11th of August 2015, a record crowd of 1,321 saw the Swifts win 2-0 at Walshes Meadow to become the first team to beat their illustrious neighbours in the Midland League.
Chris Reynolds passed away on Saturday 23rd July after a brave battle against cancer. Chris had been with the club some 45 years as player, Manager, committee member and Chairman, and he will be sorely missed by all the great friends he made in that time.
The Club then lost John McDonald on 17th October, also after a long battle against cancer. Mac was honored by the Football Association last year for 50 years of service to Stourport Swifts, and has been the heartbeat of the Swifts for the past 50 years. He will be remembered as the the man who built the Club, and this is a pair of shoes we will never fill.
West Midlands League:
Division Two-Cup Runners Up 1982-83
Division One Runners Up 1987-88
Premier Division Runners Up 1993-94, 96-97, 97-98
Cup Winners 1992-93
Worcester Senior Urn Winners 92-93, 93-94, 94-95, 97-98
Worcester Infirmary Cup Winners 93-94, 94-95, 95-96, 97-98
Midland Football Alliance Winners 2000-2001