Address

Address:
The Autonet Insurance Stadium Hollinwood Road Kidsgrove Staffordshire ST7 1DQ
Directions:
Seated:
2000
Standing:
Telephone:
01782 782412
Website:

History

Athletic were formed in December 1952 after a meeting in the Blue Bell public house, one mile away from the present ground. It was formed as a breakaway club from Kidsgrove United when it was thought the club were bringing in too many ’outsiders’ from the potteries instead of local players. The main instigator, Ernie Langford, endured a sixty year tenure with the club as Chairman then President and served many years on the Staffs FA until his passing a few years ago. The main stand is named after him.

Eric Hibbitt and Frank Timmis, who both attended that first meeting, still support the club today.

The club started life in the now defunct Burslem and Tunstall League playing on the Vickers and Goodwin pitch on the A50 just down the road. In 1961 the present ground was acquired from a local farmer and the club took a year out to develop the pitch.

After success in cup and league in the Burslem and Tunstall league the club joined the Staffordshire County league in 1963 where again they had success winning the league and Staffs Challenge cup. In search of more success the club joined the Mid Cheshire league, a move not entirely liked by the Staffs FA but eventually they did allow a Kidsgrove reserve side back into the County league.

The Seventies and Eighties saw the club have huge successes winning the Mid Cheshire league four times and the challenge cup three times, and they also lifted the Staffs FA Vase and the challenge cup once more. They also lifted the prestigious Sentinel Cup three times.

The Eighties saw the club grow more and more and the clubhouse and ground started developing further and further with the aid of a strong committee, supporters, and local tradesmen. In 1986 the club applied for membership of the North West Counties league but this was rejected twice until facilities were improved. The club were accepted in 1989, the same year they became the first team to win the Staffs FA Vase twice. Three years later Kidsgrove were promoted to the First Division after finishing tenth in the Second Division, the result of the league introducing strict ground criteria. Part of this was the installation of floodlights, (acquired free off the council from run down tennis courts at Chinky Park).

On the 29th October 1991 Lou Macari brought his Stoke City team to officially switch on the floodlights.

Within the next ten years the south and west stands were completed but the club struggled financially on and off the field but after the demise of Eastwood Hanley in 1997 the playing side were strengthened when their manager Jimmy Wallace, along with Neil Dundas and Chris Hagan.

The team of ‘97-98 had unparalleled success winning the league and challenge cup and narrowly missing out in an FA Vase Final at Wembley losing 3-2 to Tiverton in the Semi-Final in front of Kidsgrove’s record crowd of 1,903.

Promotion to the NPL was not forthcoming because of facilities but in 2002 after winning the league promotion was gained. The team struggled on and off the field and two years later they faced relegation for the first time in their history after finishing bottom of the league. The restructuring of the league however saved this from happening and to celebrate the club won the Staffs Senior Cup for the first time beating Stafford Rangers 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium, a feat they have won four times since. The club have only picked up one piece of silverware in the league winning the Chairman’s Cup 7-6 on aggregate against Woodley Sports and reached the play-offs once, losing 1-0 to Glapwell in 2010.

Struggles have ensued and re-election twice saved relegation and despite reaching the FA Trophy Quarter-Finals losing 2-0 to Ilkeston, and the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round losing 2-0 to Bradford PA, Kidsgrove have had to settle for Fair Play awards.

The club reached the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round again in 2018 and faced the long journey to Conference side Hartlepool United and were unlucky in losing 1-0.

In 2019-20 the club did well on the pitch at first before going out in the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Cup 1-0 to Gateshead. The Grove slipped slightly in the league though were still in with a chance of the play-offs before the season was halted due to COVID. The global pandemic also ensured that the ’20-21 season was also never to be completed.

The club parted company with manager Ryan Austin in April and former player Scott Dundas was appointed as the new manager.

The 2021-22 season proved difficult with early exits from the FA Cup and Trophy not helped by an injury list which seemed to lengthen as the season progressed.

A mid-season horror show of defeat after defeat saw Kidsgrove third from bottom at one stage, but Scott's belief was justified with a strong finish including results against the top six and the team finished mid-table. Scott has appointed Tom Urwin as assistant manager and Scott Bentley as goalkeeper coach.

During the close season, a new Physio Room has been built, two new stands next to the Autonet stand (including an outside bar) and new metal fencing is being erected to replace the old gravel board fencing and third stand erected below the main stand. This will mean three quarters of the ground will have covered accommodation.

New faces will replace those who have left or retired and there is plenty of optimism to look forward to in a season which, on paper, looks more difficult than the last.

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