Stratford Town: Club history
Depending on your love of literature, the town of Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire is probably better known for being the home of poet William Shakespeare.
To Yeovil Town fans it may be more familiar as the location of the Southern League Premier side from where Glovers’ midfielder Albi Skendi was uncovered in the summer of 2019.
The club’s history stretches back as far as 1941 when it was formed as Stratford Rangers competing in the Birmingham Alliance League.
If you want to read a full history of the club’s origins, you can find it on a very comprehensive section on the club’s official website – click here.
Fast forwarding to the more recent history, the 2014-15 season saw the club make an impressive start in the Southern League Division One South & West winning their first 10 games.
A dip in form soon followed but, after a 12-match unbeaten run at the start of 2015, Stratford finished in third place and made it through to the play-off stages.
Having dispatched of Taunton Town in the semi-final, they earned promotion to the Southern League Premier Division with victory of Larkhall Athletic in front of 1,054 supporters, a record for their Knight’s Lane ground.
The next three seasons saw the club consolidate their position before a new board took over in 2018/19 and the departure of long-serving manager Carl Adams, who ended a six-year spell at the club.
He was replaced by former Aston Villa and Millwall striker Darren Byfield who lasted just six matches before quitting saying his position was “untenable”.
Reports at the time say Byfield had “different views” on the club and decided to leave after conversations with directors Jed McCrory and Mark Bickley.
McCrory is a familiar name to Yeovil Town fans after his time as the chairman of Swindon Town. He is a friend and business partner of chairman Scott Priestnall.
Byfield was replaced by Thomas Baillie who led the club to their most successful season finishing fifth in the league, losing to King’s Lynn Town in the play-off semi-final, and reaching the first round of the FA Trophy.
That success saw Baillie depart to Tamworth and his replacement Tommy Wright, formerly manager at Darlington and a striker whose playing career took him to Leicester City, Aberdeen and most successfully Darlington.
But Wright did not last long and was sacked after just ten games of the 2019/20 season to be replaced by Paul Davis initially as caretaker and then in a permanent role.
However, Davis struggled to emulate the form showed under Baillie and then the COVID-19 pandemic drew the South League season to a premature close with the club lying in 18th place.
The 2020-21 campaign started much more brightly with five wins in their first eight games – losing the other three – before the pandemic again brought the season to a close in February 2021.
There has not been much news since the early curtailment of the season, but the club did get a new nickname – The Bards.
The name which celebrates the town’s link to Shakespeare, known as The Bard, and was selected after a competition run by a local newspaper, The Herald.
Speaking about the selection, Chairman McCrory said: “We want to show the community we are here for them and I think the response to the competition has been quite good.
“I’m hoping the new nickname will be picked up quickly and hope ‘the Bards’ nickname will give the community even more pride in the team, which has done well over the last three seasons.”
Stratford Town: Club Information
The Arden Garages Stadium
Stratford upon Avon
(Click for map)
Telephone Number : 01789 26936
Chairman: Jed McCrory
Vice-Chairman: Steve Shipway
Secretary: Chris Stephens
Manager: Paul Davis
Record Attendance : 1,054 (v Larkhall Athletic, May 2015)
Colours: Gold and navy blue
Nickname: The Bards
Tickets can be bought on the Stratford Town website – see here – with the club advising supporters to buy tickets in advance where possible.
According to the Yeovil Town website “depending on pre-sale numbers, tickets will be available on the gate.”
Concessions (Over 65s): £8.00
Youth Ticket (16-18): £5.00
Under 16s: £2.00
Under 12s: FREE (Must be accompanied by an adult)
Stratford Town: Directions To The Ground
From junction 15 M40 take the A46 towards Stratford. At the first roundabout, bear left onto the A439 towards Stratford, Keep to the left hand lane on the one way system and turn left over Clopton Bridge.
At the end of the bridge turn left onto B4086 Tiddington Road towards Wellesbourne and continue for approximately 1 mile. After passing the NFU Building on your right, take the next right into Knights Lane. The entrance to the ground is approximately 800 metres on the right, 100 metres after the school.
From the west go through Town centre follow signs for Banbury (A422) and Oxford (A3400). Cross Clopton Bridge and turn immediately left onto the B4086 towards Wellesbourne. Follow remaining directions as above.
From Banbury (A422) go across the Shell petrol station roundabout towards town and turn right immediately before Clopton Bridge onto the B4086 Tiddington Road. Follow remaining directions as above.
From Oxford (A3400) turn left at the Shell petrol station roundabout and turn right immediately before Clopton Bridge onto the B4086 Tiddington Road. Follow remaining directions as above.
Parking: The Stratford Town website states there is plenty of parking available at Knight’s Lane.
There are a number of allocated disabled parking spaces for Blue Badge holders. If you wish to reserve a place please email in advance to email@example.com
If you travel to Stratford upon Avon by train which is served by West Midlands Trains and Chiltern Railways which means from Yeovil Junction you can expect to make a minimum of three changes – via Basingstoke, Leamington Spa and Hatton.
However, should you decide to take the train, you will have to use the local Bus Service to get to the Club, which is the opposite side of the Town from the Railway Station.
When you leave the Railway Station, go up the steps onto the Alcester Road and turn left and go to the Bus Stop, by the Rother Medical Centre approximately 200yds. Catch a bus to the Bridge Street stop. Then use the 15, 18, 18A or 269 services as detailed above, to get to the Club.
There are four local bus services, which you can use to get to Stratford Town Football Club. These are the Number 15, 18, 18A, and 269 services departing from Bridge Street, Stratford-upon-Avon
Check on the Stagecoach website for bus timetables too and from the stadium: https://www.stagecoachbus.com
Official club website – https://www.stratfordtownfc.co.uk/
Stratford Herald – https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/football/
Stratford Town: Food & Drink
(Proviso: be aware that in the current situation, especially in the field of hospitality, all information is subject to change on very short term notice.)
The issue with Stratford Town is that it isn’t in Stratford-upon-Avon, but in the village of Tiddington on the eastern fringes, about two miles from the town centre (see above for bus services) and thus there are only limited facilities in the area of the stadium. This may be less of a loss than one might think as, to be frank, Stratford-upon-Avon is not as pleasant a town as might be hoped of the world renowned birth place of Shakespeare. The tourist pound, dollar, yen and euro rule; and food & drink is dominated by overpriced outlets churning out multi-national industrial product to punters they care nothing about as they’ll never see them again.
Possibly worth seeking out, should you have come by rail or just happen to find yourself in town, is the Stratford Ale House ( thestratfordalehouse.com ) a micropub dating back to 2013 – which in micropub terms is ancient. Unfortunately it doesn’t open until 1.00 p.m. on a Saturday so maybe more useful post than pre-match.
Much newer, launched 2020, in the craft beer/tasting shop rather than micropub style, and also in the town centre, is Ya Bard ( ya-bard.com ) . This had shut down its on-site drinking in response to the pandemic but appears to be planning to restart that fairly shortly. Opens from noon.
Stratford have confirmed the club bar at Knight’s Lane will be open to both home and away supporters.
The Bards are also hoping to have a new Pie & Pint stand set up in time for the visit of Yeovil. It is located inside the ground close to the turnstile entrance.
Obviously at that time there were lots of restrictions on usage, but away fans were as welcome as home supporters to use it within the limitations then in place.
There is one pub in the village of Tiddington, The Crown ( thecrowntiddington.co.uk ) , a third of a mile (10 minutes walk) from the ground. You’ll find it on Main Street (B4086) running through the middle of the village. It’s been an independently run Free House since 2012 and is a large generalist multi-room family style hostelry, with distinct areas for games/pool table/Sky Sports, lounge bar, dining room etc. Opening on Saturdays is all day from noon, with food served from 12 noon – 2.00 p.m. and 5.00 p.m. – 8.00 p.m. Stocks three or four real ales, with Sharp’s Doom Bar as the regular and the others various rotations from smaller generally Midlands(ish) breweries. Has lots of garden space and its own car park.
The Crown, 14 Main Street, Tiddington, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 7AZ. Tel. 01789 297010