Cross Keys

Housed the football club: 1904 – 1995

The early years of the new century saw an ambitious Hednesford Town looking to make further progress up the footballing ladder and in 1904 they made an important switch, moving to a new ground called The Cross Keys just across the town from their old ground.
The move came about after after the club fell into debt to the tune of £40 (approx. £3800 – 2010). A local councillor agreed to meet the deficit provided the club moved to a patch of land behind the Cross Keys public house and away from the Anglesey.

Over 900 spectators were present for the first game at the Cross Keys and this proved to be a happy day all around, with the Pitmen beating Stafford 3-1. Interest in that season ran high enough for an estimated 450 people to travel by special train to support the team at St Georges on Boxing Day. The 3-1 defeat would be a bitter disappointment.

With this move to a new ground and the increased interest from the local community, Hednesford sought to gain entry into a ‘better league’ and this was achieved in 1908, when they were elected into the Birmingham Combination League. In the midst of the great excitement the pitch was widened so as to conform with the requirements of the English Cup, in which the club had not competed for some years. Councillor Corbett again wrote off a debt from the previous season and a local firm met the pitch requirements fees leaving everyone in high spirits for the new campaign.

The Cross Keys was a perfect arena for a club of Hednesford’s size for many decades. A large wooden stand stood on the site for many years, with a large bank opposite holding over fifty spectators. Only the arrival of the fifties, and floodlit football, saw changes at the ground. The banking made way for a large stand along the whole side of the ground, followed by floodlights that were erected in 1953. A friendly between Wolves and West Bromwich Albion was organised at the Cross Keys to mark the official switch-on, which was won 4-2 by Wolves. The gate exceeded the 7,000 mark and one hoped that this figure would be approached at some stage in the following season as Hednesford, together with several other teams moved from the Birmingham Combination to the Birmingham League for the 1953/54 season

In the decades following the ground barely changed and, with the team clearly heading in the direction of better things and rising up the divisions, it became obvious that a new home was needed.
Once the club arrived in the Southern League in the early nineties, a decision was taken to move away from the beloved Cross Keys, now with a capacity of 4,000, but crumbling with every season. In 1994, the club started work on a new stadium, on the site of an old brickworks snapped up just 300 yards away from the Cross Keys.
Quite fittingly the last game to be played at the ground saw the Pitmen beat Leek Town in front of 2776 supporters to clinch the Beazer Homes Premier Division title and with it, promotion to the Conference.

What remains today?

The Cross Keys Hotel still stands on the same spot it has for the last 260 years and is still the spiritual home of Hednesford Town for many supporters. It’s landlord is Hednesford Town legend Chris Brindley and the FA Trophy success of 2004, that he certainly played a considerable part in, is celebrated on of the walls of the bar.
The land behind the Hotel that once housed the stadium has been redeveloped into a large housing estate and the ground’s presence is reduced to the memories held by the fans who visited it.

Cross Keys Inn 1920

The Cross Keys Hotel & Inn c1920

Cross Keys Match Action

Match action from the Cross Keys – note the Inn in the background.

Cross Keys Inn Today

The Cross Keys Hotel & Inn as it stands today, while it is no longer home to the club you’ll still see fans in there on matchdays!