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!
Atherstone Town FC
Nickname: The Adders
Founded: 2004 (original club founded in 1887 folded in 1977)
Team Colors: Red
Ground: The Mark Webster Community Stadium
Current League: Midland League Division One (Tier 10)
Reason For Notice
Just like my first entry in this series, we are going to the FA Cup Preliminary Qualifying Rounds for this week’s Small Club of the Week. And like the team profiled there – Racing Club Warwick – Atherstone Town is getting noticed for knocking of a higher tier team, defeating Tier Seven club Bedworth United on the road by a score of 3-1.
The current iteration of the Adders were reborn in 2004, inheriting the legacy of the original club that folded in 1979. A new club called Atherstone United played for a it, before they to folded in September 2003. A group of supporters kept the dream alive and the Adders have played since 2004, first in the Midland Combination Division One, which merged with the Midland Football Alliance in 2014 to form the current Midland Football League.
The club’s best league performance was a championship in the Midland Alliance back in 2008, and finished third last season in Midland League Division One last year, three points away from automatic promotion to the Midland League Premier Division, but 11 points ahead of Racing Club Warwick. This was on the heels of a fourth place finish during 2016-2017 and a 13th place finish in 2015-2016. So far this season, they have yet to lose in league competition, with five wins in five matches and a staggering +17 in goal differential.
We won’t know who the Adders will play in the First Qualifying Round for the FA Cup until after the replays are done from the latest round, but they will be playing a qualifying game on September 8th. They will be one of (at least) seven clubs from Tier 10 playing in the round – six more Tier 10 teams are playing replays next week after draws – and with 72 teams from Tier Six joining the fray, they may again be facing off against a higher tier team.
In Midland League play, they absolutely throttled Neneaton Griff on Monday, winning 7-1 at home, helping to explain their current goal differential. The next league match for them will be at Paget Rangers on September 1st, a match they should be expected to win. Since a match against NKF Burbage has been postponed due the aforementioned FA Cup Qualifying Round, they aren’t scheduled again to play a league opponent until a September 22nd home match against Studley, though I imagine the postponed match will be rescheduled before then.
Update on Last Week’s Club
Last week, I profiled Exeter City after their performance in the first round of the Carabao (EFL) Cup, a win over a higher tier team. They followed up that performance with a 2-0 loss against Premier League Club Fulham in the second round, their third match in seven days. They lost a tough fought game to the MK Dons on Sunday, falling to third place in the League Two table. They play at home against 1st place Lincoln City on September 1st, which should be a solid indicator of whether or not they will be competing for a league title or simply a playoff spot.
Until next time…
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