For this Tales of Park Life we go back to the 2014-15 season, a campaign during which St Albans City and Concord Rangers first came into opposition with each other for a competitive fixture.
Both clubs were members then, as we now, of the National League (Conference) South. Concord were experiencing their second season at this level while we were back after spending three years in the Southern League. Managed by the duo of Jimmy Gray and Graham Golds, we were seventh in the table with 19 points from 13 games. Concord were seven places further down the table but just a mere three points behind with a game in hand. However, league points were not at stake as we faced the Beach Boys in the 4th Round Qualifying of the F.A. Cup on 25th October 2014.
The road to Clarence Park
To reach this stage of the competition Rangers had defeated Wealdstone after two dramatic games. A Joe Gardner equaliser six minutes into added time at Grosvenor Vale secured a replay in Essex where two Danny Glozier penalties got shot of The Stones. In the next round Concord accounted for Wessex League Premier Division side Winchester City 3-2 at Thames Road with a brace of Steve Cawley goals and one from Matt Fry doing the job. Cawley is also known around these parts from his spells with Hemel Hempstead Town and Hitchin Town.
For our part, a goal by left-back Lee Chappell accounted for Hayes & Yeading United while Steve Wales and Sean Shields saw us to a notable victory over National League North side Brackley Town at the Park in the 3rd Round Qualifying.
The Concord manager at this time was Danny Cowley (left) who was in his eighth season at Thames Road. Danny had his brother, Nicky, as his assistant following the recent departure of Glen Alzapiedi who later took on the same role with the Saints. Danny has since gone on to manage Braintree Town, Lincoln City, Huddersfield Town and, his current club, Portsmouth. Included among the six Concord substitutes was Taylor Miles who later had two brief spells here at Clarence Park .
Gardner volley creates Concord club history
A crowd of 953 made their way to the Park on a pleasantly warm sunny afternoon that would end with Joe Gardner’s wonderfully executed right-footed volley on 64 minutes taking the visitors through to the competition proper for the first time in the club’s 47 year history. Rangers pocketed £12,500 from the prize fund for their win to go with the £12,00 picked up from their earlier successes.
In the 1st Round Proper, after the original tie was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, Concord held Mansfield Town to a 1-1 draw at Field Mill with Jordan Chiedozie scoring a blistering equaliser. The replay at Thames Road drew a crowd of 1,537 but there was to be no giant-killing as a second half goal by Ollie Palmer gave the League Two Stags victory. Four years earlier Palmer had scored once in five games for St Albans. Also included in the Mansfield line up was central defender Jamie Sendles-White who later played 11 games for the City.
Four days after going out of the F.A. Cup Concord turned their attention to the F.A. Trophy and hammered National League South leaders Boreham Wood 4-0 at Thames Road with Gardner scoring twice. The Wood side, managed by the familiar face of Ian Allinson, included a number of one-time Saints in James Russell, Matty Whichelow, Graeme Montgomery, Ricky Shakes and unused substitute Junior Morias. Having had over 1,500 people at their ground for the Mansfield match, the game against the Wood pulled in just 285 supporters. Concord went one better in the next round when giving National League leaders Barnet a 6-2 drubbing in a replay at The Hive. Steve Cawley, Rangers top scorer for the season with 15, scored twice in the rout. The run ended at Vauxhall Road where Dean Brennan’s Hemel Hempstead Town saw Concord off 3-1.
Concord did lift one cup with a 5-0 thrashing of Billericay Town securing the Essex Senior Cup for the second of three successive years. Gardner scored twice in the final as he joined Cawley as the only players to score in all four cup competitions entered by the club this season.
League honours even
Concord returned to Clarence Park in mid-January for the first league meeting between the two clubs. Michael Malcolm (left) opened the scoring for the City and the points were wrapped up with a John Frendo penalty before half time but Rangers ‘keeper Josh Vickers kept the margin of defeat down by saving another Frendo penalty later in the game.
We made the return visit to Thames Road on 7th March and were soon trailing to a Taylor Miles goal. Sam Collins increased the lead and 19-year-old Miles added a third before Jamal Lowe reduced the deficit with a last minute penalty. Concord’s win put them eight points clear of the Saints with three games in hand. The Beach Boys ended the season in seventh place while we finished 13th.
Consolidating our position in the league following promotion was the top priority and cup success was thin on the ground. Wealdstone , following a draw at Clarence Park , won an F.A. Trophy replay in some comfort, 3-0, after future Saint Shaun Lucien opened the scoring. Our misery was made complete when former England ‘C’ international Steve Wales was dismissed.
Bishop’s Stortford ended our interest in the Herts Charity Cup but good progress was made through three rounds of the Herts Senior Cup – including seven goals for John Frendo – before Boreham Wood knocked us out in the semi-final.
Frendo’s 18 goals in 42 games took his City career total to 60 goals in 97 games. With ten goals Wales was the only other player to get into double figures. Lee Clarke ended his City days with 246 appearances and 93 goals, while central defender and captain Ben Martin moved onto 212 games. Lee Chappell led the way on 47 appearances for the season and midfielder Sam Corcoran left his mark with 14 bookings, one short of the then club record.
Line-ups for Concord’s F.A. Cup win at Clarence Park :
St Albans City: Joe Welch, John Kyriacou, Lee Chappell , Charlie Gorman, Ben Martin , Tom Ward, James Kaloczi (Sam Corcoran 59), James Comley, Lee Clarke (Geoff Mitchell 69), Sean Shields , Steve Wales (David Keenleyside 75), unused subs: Danny Green, Joel Watson.
Concord Rangers: Joe Wright, Jeremy Walker, Danny Glozier, Alex Woodyard, Jack Lampe, Matt Fry, Joe Gardner (Steve King 82), James White, Lewis Taaffe (Tony Stokes 72), Sam Collins, Steve Cawley (Gary Ogilvie 88), subs unused: Cheye Alexander, Riggers Kabashi.
Referee: John Busby (Wallingford).