"Little Old Walsall"
When you mention football in the West Midlands the first clubs to pop into the minds of most football fans across the country are the likes of Aston Villa, Birmingham City, West Brom or Wolverhampton Wanderers. However there is another club, one with a completely different past to each of their West Midlands rivals. Whilst in the last few years the 'top 4' West Midlands clubs have competed in the top league, at the other end of the scale, Walsall Football Club have languished in the bottom two tiers of professional football.
During their time in the Championship in the 1999-2000 season fans thought this was it, the tables were turning. They beat their closest rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 and in the same season beat Birmingham City 1-0. In their next game, they beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0. The 'Saddlers' fans were excited and for the first time in a long time they felt like top dogs in the area. However in that same season they were relegated, with West Bromwich Albion surviving by three points.
Walsall were back in the Championship after one year away and stayed for three seasons until they were cruelly relegated on goal difference at the end of the 2003-2004 season. The dark days were once again back at the smaller club of the West Midlands. In the 2005-2006 season they finished rock bottom of League One and were relegated to the bottom league of professional football. From playing their nearest rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers just a few seasons ago, they were now to be travelling to their new nearest league rivals, Hereford United. Quite a change in such a small amount of time. Although Walsall did get an instant return to League One at the first time of asking, winning the title. They have remained in League One since but are looked at as one of the relegation candidates.
Of course, Walsall have had some success against local clubs in the past, beating Birmingham City 5-0 on a dark September night in the 1988-1989 season being a particular highlight for Walsall fans, as well as a League Cup Semi-Final for the club which saw them hold Liverpool to a 2-2 draw in the 1st leg at Anfield. in the 1983-1984 season which saw the club play against the likes of Rush, Grobbelaar, Hanson, Thompson and Lawrenson.
Now, it's my job to turn things around and bring back the good days of the Championship and possibly more. It'll be difficult, the purse strings are tightened every year by chairman Jeff Bonser but each year Walsall are proving the bookies wrong and surviving in the league. With youth, free agents and loans a promotion run doesn't look likely. But this is football, and anything can happen.