It’s only 12 years since Solihull Moors came into existence. They have made huge strides in that time, especially this season. Solihull are challenging for promotion to the Football League, in the second round of the FA Cup and transforming their SportNation.bet Stadium. This truly is a club that is building for success.
A new beginning
It was in 1997 when Solihull Borough and Moor Green were merged to form Solihull Moors. The new club spent the first few seasons in the bottom half of the Conference North. Tragedy struck when their manager Bob Faulkner passed away in 2011. The side did start to show improvement and a sign of what was to come happened when more seats were put into their stand.
Rosier times seemed to lie ahead, but it wasn’t until 2015/16 that they won what was now the National League North, winning promotion to the top level of non-league football.
Dreaming of League football
Every National League side dreams of getting into the Football League. Solihull Moors are no exception, and they came close to achieving it last season. They finished second, just three points behind champions Leyton Orient. They drew their last two games (including one against the eventual champions in front of a record 3,681 home attendance). A couple of wins would have seen them promoted to League Two. Solihull went on to lose 1-0 at home to AFC Fylde in the play-off semi-finals.
This season, they are again battling hard to win promotion. They are third in the table, just a point behind leaders Barrow but have played a game more than the league leaders. They can boast about their home record, though, with nine wins from 11 games being the best in the National League giving ‘The No 2 Crew’ as their fans are known plenty to cheer.
FA Cup success
Many non-league teams have had success in the FA Cup. It wasn’t until 2016/17 that Solihull Moors reached the first round for the first time. They did so by beating Kettering Town in the fourth qualifying round. Those opponents know only too well how important a stadium is to your success after the rebuilding and subsequent loss of their Rockingham Road ground.
Solihull beat League Two Yeovil Town (no strangers themselves to causing cup shocks) before losing 6-2 to Luton Town in the second round. The cup success continued with a run to the second round in the 2018/19 season, losing on penalties to League One Blackpool.
With Solihull in good form this season, they are again on an FA Cup run. They beat Oxford City 5-1 away in the first round and now host League One Rotherham United, dreaming of a first appearance in the third round and a tie against a top Premier League or Championship side.
Preparing for League football
2017 saw the SportNation.bet Stadium receive Grade A status, a vital step forward when aiming to play in the Football League. Ground capacity has been on the increase for a while now. It was 3,050 at one stage but is now up to 5,500. Average home attendances this season are 1,591, but just over 3,000 saw them host Sutton United last month. That’s a massive step forward from the 2012/13 season when the average home attendance was only 239.
Three-phased ground improvements.
In February of this year, the club announced they would be carrying out a three-phased improvement programme for the SportNation.bet Stadium. This is a great example of them building for success as the work is needed to meet Football League ground requirements. It’s good news, too, for Birmingham Ladies FC who play their games at the ground.
Work has included improved crush barriers for the Wadsworth Stand. The Main Clubhouse Stand has seen changes, and that side of the ground is now all-seater. There are now improvements to toilets and disabled facilities, and there are a new control room, media room and better corporate hospitality as well as an improved floodlighting system.
The final phase is due to be completed between May and July of next year. By then, they could be preparing for their first season in the Football League and visiting stadiums like 15,700 capacity Swindon Town. The main Solihull Moors change is a new 2,000 capacity all-seater stand. Work will also finish on the Main Clubhouse Stand with new changing rooms and another extension for the stand itself.
Solihull Moors are a club building for success. This could well be the season in which they win promotion to the Football League. If they do, they will have an excellent stadium to show off to their new opponents.