Note: This weekly series will look for teams outside of the top flights of European football to find true underdog stories of clubs well below the radar. Clubs will be featured based on performance in the various tournaments that happen concurrently with the league seasons, or even strong runs in some of the leagues that dot the European football landscape. Chances are, these clubs will be years away from finding a home at the top flights of football – if they are ever able to get there – but it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve attention from time to time. If you happen upon a team that you think might qualify, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter @GuruEbby or @SportMuseNet!
Racing Club Warwick
Nickname: The Racers
Founded: 1919 (as Saltisford Rovers)
Team Colors: Yellow / Black
Ground: Townsend Meadow
Current League: Midland League, Division One (Tier 10 of English football league system)
Reason For Notice
The Racers were the only team from Tier 10 to defeat a Tier 8 team in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup qualifying rounds, defeating Coleshill Town in a 4-3 comeback victory on 11 August. They will be one of at least 27 clubs from Tier 10 to move onto the Preliminary Round, where they will face off against either Boldmere St. Michaels (Tier 9) or Malvern Town (Tier 10) on 25 August 2018.*
*UPDATE: Malvern Town defeated Boldmere St. Michaels 3-2 in the replay of their first match, meaning that the Racers will be going against another Tier 10 team in the First Qualifying Round.
In avoiding a team from Tiers 7 or 8, the Racers chances of reaching the First Qualifying Round has increased. They will know for sure if they are heading to Boldmere or Malvern after those teams play later today after drawing the first time around. It’s been a long time since the Racers even won an FA Cup qualifier, let alone advanced to the First Qualifying Round, so continuing on in the tournament would be a welcome change of pace for the club.
The Racers have been around for nearly 100 years, and they are one of thousands of clubs that play semi-professionally all across England. They have been as high as the Southern League, which currently sits at Tier 8, but have spent the bulk of their history at their current level. Last season, they finished in 5th place (out of 22 teams), after finishing in 6th the year prior. After two games in the current season, they find themselves with three points, and hope that they can continue their climb up the table, possibly leading to promotion at the end of the year.
Perhaps their greatest claim to fame is that Ben Foster – current primary goalkeeper for Watford in the Premier League and a backup keeper on the English national team – got his start with the Racers youth team, leaving the team in 2001 for Stoke City after turning pro. He bounced around the top leagues of English football – either on short-term contracts or on loan – until settling in with West Bromwich Albion in 2012.
When West Brom was relegated after last season, he moved on a transfer to Watford in order to stay in the Premier League. Since 2006, he has made 8 appearances for the English national team, though none since 2014, and was not on the roster for the recent World Cup in Russia. However, he started in net for the final group stage game the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, booking a clean sheet as the team failed to advance past the group stage.
In addition to the aforementioned Preliminary Round match in the FA Cup, the Racers resume league play this week with a match at Heath Hayes on Saturday, 18 August. Hopefully their form from the Coleshill Town match carries over and they can find success in league play going forward.
Until next time…