Category Archives: Sport

Bloxwich Active Living Centre set to make a splash!

Active Living Centre keys being handed over to Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick (pic Walsall Council)
Active Living Centre keys being handed over to Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick (pic Walsall Council)

The eagerly awaited opening date for both Bloxwich and Oak Park Active Living Centres became reality this week when the keys for both centres were handed over by contractors.  This significant moment marked the beginning stages to the run-up of their opening on Tuesday 9 August.

The new Bloxwich Active Living Centre before completion (pic S. Williams)
The new Bloxwich Active Living Centre before completion (pic S. Williams)

The new multi-million pound centres, which each include a 25 metre swimming pool, teaching pool, six court sports hall, dance studio and cafe will be fitted out over the coming weeks with state of the art station fitness suites in time for their opening to the public. Oak Park is also able to offer two glass backed squash courts, sauna and a steam room.  The full size, floodlit artificial grass pitch at Oak Park will be replaced over the autumn.

The new Bloxwich Active Living Centre before completion (pic S. Williams)
The new Bloxwich Active Living Centre before completion (pic S. Williams)

Bloxwich East Councillor Julie Fitzpatrick, Portfolio Holder for Community, Leisure and Culture said: “Opening these doors for the first time is very exciting.

“It is truly wonderful to be able to take possession of these buildings and brings us ever closer to realising the Council’s commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of residents by getting more people, more active, more often.

Bloxwich Carnival Committee used the old baths function hall for their annual Senior Citizens' Party (pic S. Williams, 18 July 2013)
Bloxwich Carnival Committee used the old baths function hall for their annual Senior Citizens’ Party (pic S. Williams, 18 July 2013)

“Over the coming weeks the two centres will be a hive of activity and the excitement of everyone working to get these centres ready is positively brimming over.

“Our customers are about to be able to access some truly iconic and outstanding facilities that they can be really proud of. Over the coming days we look forward to being able to launch our activity programmes ready to open both centres on Tuesday 9 August.”

Bloxwich Baths (bottom right) in the late 1920s, before the roof was put on in the mid 1930s
Bloxwich Baths (bottom right) in the late 1920s, before the roof was put on in the mid 1930s

Controversially, Bloxwich’s historic 1920s-30s public baths, originally an open air pool and converted into a function hall when the first Bloxwich Leisure Centre was built in 1991, was demolished to make way for the new car park of the new facility now on the site.

The old baths were also once a well-known event and live music venue, presenting famous acts like Jerry Lee Lewis in the 1960s, and are well-remembered by Slade glam rock singing star Noddy Holder in a new film made recently as part of the Bloxwich ReDiscover project by Students of Walsall Academy in Bloxwich. More recently, the building acted as the venue for the annual Bloxwich Carnival Senior Citizens’ Party.

Funded through the Council’s £24.3 million Active Living Centres initiative, the latest project received a £2m grant from Sport England’s “Iconic” facilities award scheme to support Walsall Council’s aspiration to improve Walsall residents’ overall health and well-being.

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Fab festival of cracking cricket this Sunday

Walsall Arboretum will be hosting the Walsall Festival of Cricket this Sunday 31 May, to take place between 11am and 4pm.
Throughout the day organisers have planned a series of cricket, and cricket related activities for both adults and young people.

There will be opportunities for cricket fans and those wishing to learn more about local opportunities to meet and talk to representatives of local clubs.

With interest in the women’s game growing organisers are keen to raise the profile of the game and highlight the benefits, and opportunities to women and girls locally.

Walsall Festival of Cricket handbill (Walsall Council)
Walsall Festival of Cricket handbill (Walsall Council)

Among the activities on offer is the interactive Cricket Factory which develops techniques like catching, throwing, running, batting and bowling. Other activities include Kwik Cricket, Stool Ball and the opportunity to meet coaches from local clubs.

Kate Williams, Senior Officer for Sports Development, in Walsall Council stated: “Walsall has some very passionate cricket supporters who will be providing insights into the game at the festival in the park.

“The clubs attending are keen to build on the interest in the sport locally and attract more young people to play the game.

“Cricket offers young people the chance to get out and be active, but is also  a game of skill and strategy requiring mental agility as well.

“It’s pits two people against each other as batsman and bowler within a wider team game, and requires constant decision making. That’s what makes it such an interesting sport.”

Walsall FC gets new footie song thanks to local band!

The Assist (courtesy of the band)
The Assist (courtesy of the band)

It may not have escaped our readers’ notice that Walsall Football Club are shortly going to be playing at Wembley Stadium for the first time in their entire history!

Now there’s even more great news for music-loving Walsall footie fans –  Walsall’s very own Indie/Alternative band THE ASSIST have specially written and produced a timely musical tribute to The Saddlers – and their great new single ‘Walsall FC Go To Wembley’ is now available to pre-order from iTunes!

All profits made from the sale of this song will be donated to The Brain Tumour Charity and the Walsall FC Youth Development Programme.

You can listen to a preview of the song on the Walsall Football Supporters’ Trust website.  To pre-order the single, CLICK HERE and follow the links to the Itunes store.

Collectors item

Not only but also, the song will also be released on a CD single format at a cost of £5, each one signed by the band and limited to 127 copies only, one to mark each year of the clubs history.  This is bound to become a sought-after collector’s item!

Walsall Football Supporters’ Trust have given special thanks to The Assist, Trust Member Adam Paget for making all of this possible, and also to Eddie Thomas at Dovecote Studio for donating all the studio time for free meaning more funds can be raised for these more than worthy causes.

Success

The Assist has achieved relative success in a short time, their debut single was released in October last year and broke into the iTunes alternative album chart peaking at #116. they’ve performed headline gigs at 02 Academy’s in Birmingham and Manchester, as well as support slots with happy Mondays, Reverend and the Makers and also legendary bass player of The Jam Bruce Foxton.

A recent highlight for the band was playing the Blackpool Rocks Festival, sharing the stage with The 1975, Disclosure and Swim Deep.

To find out more about The Assist, check out their Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/TheAssistBand  and their Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/theassistband

Quick change of Olympic cycling heroes for Bloxwich event

Left to right: Steve Bagley, head of collections at Coventry Transport Museum, Chris Hilton, principal at Black Country UTC, Lesley Principal, assistant principal at Black Country UTC.
Steve Bagley, head of collections at Coventry Transport Museum, Chris Hilton, principal at Black Country UTC, Lesley Principal, assistant principal at Black Country UTC.

Youngsters across the Black Country and beyond are being given a unique chance to grill two of Team GB’s gold medal and world record heroes at an exclusive event, as seen in our earlier story.

The Black Country University Technical College (formerly Sneyd Comprehensive School), based on Vernon Way, adjacent to Mossley Estate in Bloxwich, had already secured team pursuit cycling star Geraint Thomas to host its ‘Accelerate Live’ extravaganza on Saturday 24th November, and has now added Thomas’ team-mate, Steven Burke.

The pair made headlines at London 2012 when they twice shattered the world record on the way to their velodrome sensation, and will now meet existing and potential Black Country UTC students.

‘Accelerate Live’ is the first of the UTC’s ‘Live Series’ of events, and will bring to life the magic of engineering in a series of exhibitions and showcases focused on the science behind the cycle.

Among them will be the award winning ‘Pedals to Medals Interactive Experience’ – a journey through the history of the cycle, from Penny Farthing to Olympic 2012 mean machine.

Alongside that, Geraint and Steven will talk about their own unique experience and how their gold medals were achieved.

Steven is delighted to have been included in the event. He said:

“I certainly have very good memories of working alongside Geraint and hopefully people will be interested to hear about our amazing 2012 journey.

“Accelerate Live is a fantastic idea to excite youngers about the possibilities of science and engineering. I’m fascinated to see the ‘Pedals to Medals Experience’ too.”

Steven replaces Lizzie Armitstead at the event, as the silver medalist is no longer able to attend.

‘Accelerate Live’ is an all ticket event and demand is already high. Anyone interested in getting their complimentary ticket should visit www.utcliveseries.co.uk to register.

Along with the cycling theme, ‘Accelerate Live’ will also showcase dynamic engineering and science demonstrations, including robotics displays, Green Power vehicles and much more.

Picture courtesy Black Country UTC

Football-mad Leamore youngsters kick it out at Walsall

Leamore Primary School students meet Walsall FC mascot Swifty.

Students from Leamore primary School in Walsall acted as ball boys for Walsall Football club’s League 1 match v Crewe  at the Banks’s Stadium last Saturday.

The day  began with a two hour training session and match on the astroturf pitch run by the coaches from Walsall’s Community team  before the children had their briefing for the day.

As this match was taking place on the special ‘Kick it out’ day to raise awareness of racism in football the children got to meet all of the players and hold up special Kick it Out banners to all for sides of the stadium pre match. Then led out by Jamie Hendy from Year 6 they welcomed the teams onto the field and spent 90 minutes helping the game run smoothly.

Leamore Primary School ball boys help out Walsall FC players.
Leamore Primary School ball boys help out Walsall FC players.

Everyone enjoyed an excellent day in a very closely contested game which earned Walsall a valuable point although for most of the match it looked like a win was on the cards.

The result also maintained teacher Paul Mobberley’s  record of Walsall not losing when he takes his students as ball boys (about 25 matches with 3 different schools now!).

At the end of the game the children were congratulated by Walsall FC’s Community staff for their terrific enthusiasm and behaviour. A signed Walsall ball was awarded to Andrew Price for showing the best attitude.

Everyone looks forward to their next visit, hopefully around Christmas, and Walsall riding high in League 1!

Information and photos courtesy Paul Mobberley of Leamore Primary School

Buzz at Gunners FC thanks to National Express

Team photo courtesy Gunners FC.

Jason Bailey of National Express West Midlands is celebrating after recently securing funding of £300 from the National Express Employee Charity Panel to help his local under 13’s football team, Gunners FC.

And there’s a distinct buzz this week amongst both players and parents as a result of the public transport operator’s generosity.

Gunners FC, who are based at the Gunners Club in Bloxwich, play in the Walsall Junior Youth League and train every Saturday morning with matches on a Sunday morning. 

The club was established in 2005 but they recently started a new adventure on their own as the club they were formerly associated with has disbanded.

Gunners FC vs Legion Lions last month.
Gunners FC vs Legion Lions last month.

Jason, who is a bus driver at the National Express Walsall garage and is often to be seen at the wheel on local routes, got involved as his son played for the team and they were struggling for volunteers. 

Sponsorship from a local business helped with a new match kit and Jason applied to the National Express Employee Charity Panel to see if they could provide any help towards the cost of waterproof coats for the team during inclement weather.

Jason said:

“This help from National Express means that Gunners FC Under 13’s can arrive at matches in the same matching coats and give them a sense of pride. 

“They have worked really hard to get where they are now and the more professional they appear to everybody in the community, the better it promotes us in a good way so that we can continue to grow and develop within our local area.”

The National Express Employee Charity Panel helps support employees in their charitable work.  The panel is made up of employees from around the National Express business who meet quarterly to decide which good causes they will support. 

The panel awarded over £20,000 to charities and organisations nominated by employees throughout 2011.

National Express West Midlands

Music, art and sport meet to mark Olympics and Paralympics

Walsall Aboretum Bandstand

As part of the Walsall for 2012 celebrations tied into the Olympic and Paralympic games, Walsall Council is holding an exciting and fun-for-all event in Walsall Arboretum to mark the conclusion of the London 2012 Paralympics.

The event, which has much to offer music, arts and sports fans, takes place on Sunday 9 September and includes both a Bandstand Marathon & Walsall Sportsfest in the town’s premier park.

There are still some vacant stalls available. Organisers would especially like to hear from holistic/arts & crafts/alternative therapy practitioners.There is no cost to the stallholder, they just need to contact Craig Vincent at  azalea.events.walsall@gmail.com or 07970 785 686.

Aspects of the event include:

    • Live music at the refurbished Arboretum Bandstand.
    • Artists performances.
    • Craft stalls.
    • Family activities.
    • Sports demonstrations and have-a-go activities.

LIVE MUSIC

The music line-up from 12 noon – 6pm includes:

12.00 noon   Walsall Gilbert & Sullivan Society

12.45pm  Chuck Micallef, Dave Luke & Nick Tomson

1.45pm   Tony Barrett Band

 2.30pm  Phoenix Brass Band

3.30pm  Aziz 

4.30pm  Stems

5.30pm  Arbor Lights

ARTS IN THE GALLERY GARDEN

There will also be a chance to visit the new Gallery Garden in the refurbished Arboretum, and meet artists with activities as follows between 2pm – 6pm:

    • Graham Jones – wood sculptor
    • Ron & Julie Thompson – sculptors
    • Annie Bowden – community artist
    • Walsall Knitting Circle – simple cake decorating
    • Elizabeth Knight

SPORTSFEST ACTIVITIES

There will be opportunities to try a wide variety of sports and physical activities; you can even do an induction on the day for Walsall’s Children’s Fit Zone gyms.

Get your bike checked and see a BMX demonstration.

Talk to Bootcamp fitness experts.

ADMISSION TO ALL EVENTS IS FREE

No ticket required!

Keep track of Walsall’s golden paralympian

Eleanor Simmonds 2008
Eleanor Simmonds 2008

While most of us are already watching the London 2012 Olympics, Walsall’s double gold medal paralympian swimmer Eleanor Simmonds will be focusing on just one thing – being the best she can be.

Her life currently revolves around training and preparing for the competition – to the point where she is will soon be in the holding camp in Manchester with British Swimming before arriving at Olympic Village – and not long to go till the start of the Paralympic Games on 29 August.

During this time the Aldridge 17-year-old’s routine cannot, understandably, be disrupted. But her parents have agreed to let Walsall Council have an insight into their daughter’s thoughts and feelings throughout this exciting time.

The Council will be carrying regular updates on Eleanor’s preparation and progress on its special website at www.walsallfor2012.co.uk and plan to bring residents Eleanor’s reactions via her mum and dad throughout the Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Eleanor, who won gold medals in Beijing in 2008 in the 100m and 400m freestyle swimming events also set a new world record in the 400m freestyle.

She also received an MBE from the Queen in the New Years Honours List in 2009 and was the youngest person to receive this honour, also becoming the first swimmer to break a world record at the London Aquatics Centre in March 2012 in the 200m individual medley.

Eleanor was born with achondroplasia, commonly known as dwarfism.

Steve Simmonds said: “Eleanor sums everything up when she says “I just want to make sure that I’ve got to the end of my race being the best I can be.

“While she would obviously love to win more gold medals her main motivation is knowing she’s in peak condition and is pleased with her performance. And that’s all anyone can ask of themselves really.

“There is a great expectation of all the competitors this year as London is hosting the competitions and the British hopefuls are on their home soil.

“We are grateful that so many of Eleanor’s family, friends and supporters are able to attend the Paralympic Games – as are the families of all those taking part – because travelling to Beijing and Rio and places like that just isn’t possible for all.

“Eleanor says it will make a big difference to the atmosphere, knowing all your friends and family are actually in the crowd.

“There’s definitely a great enthusiasm now the games are in London and we’re all excited about the weeks to come.”

Olympic Flame route through Bloxwich and Walsall confirmed

The 2012 Olympic Torch.

Walsall has been chosen to be part of the Olympic Torch Relay on Saturday June 30, 2012, giving residents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to welcome the Olympic Flame to the borough.  And Bloxwich is the first landmark on the route, which has been revealed in detail for the first time today!

Thousands of people are expected to line the streets and celebrate as local torchbearers proudly take part in the relay. Walsall Council and partners are planning a number of events to mark the memorable historic occasion and residents, local schools, organisations and local businesses will be encouraged to get involved in the celebrations.

The torch convoy will enter the borough on the A34 Stafford Road to the north of Bloxwich at around 11.58am on Saturday 30 June 2012. The torch follows the A34 into and through the centre of Bloxwich along High Street, then diverting via Somerfield Road and Green Lane (missing out Bloxwich Road and central Leamore) towards Walsall town centre, passing the communities of Leamore and Birchills. The convoy will then turn left at Walsall police station and travel on the ring road before making a right turn onto Lichfield Street and heading towards the Council House.

The torch convoy will progress to Park Street and Gallery Square via Bridge Street and The Bridge and will then progress through the Pleck, Alumwell and Birchills areas on the Wolverhampton Road and on through Bentley towards Willenhall on Wolverhampton Road West. The torch progresses through New Road in Willenhall town centre, then out to Wolverhampton via Somerford Place and the Portobello island at around 2.50pm.

Walsall Council has set up a dedicated website, www.walsall2012.co.uk, where people can access the latest information and find out how they can get involved. Residents living in and around Walsall can find out when it will be travelling along their nearest high street or past their local shop.

One confirmed torchbearer is 21-year-old Zakia Begum, from Collins Street in Walsall who suffers from muscular dystrophy and was nominated by one of her carers.

Zakia said today: “I am so excited to be one of the torchbearers for the Olympics, it will be one of the proudest moments of my life. I cried tears of happiness when I found out,” she added.

Councillor Anthony Harris, cabinet member for leisure and culture at Walsall Council, said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for residents and members of the surrounding communities within the Walsall borough to see the Olympic Flame and witness the spectacle of the Olympic Torch Relay.

“Today’s announcement detailing the exact route of the Olympic Torch really brings the route to life and will encourage people to get involved by lining the streets. I would encourage people from all across Walsall, not just those who live along the route, to join in what promises to be a huge party for the whole borough.”

The streets along the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, can be viewed in full at www.london2012.com/olympictorchrelay

Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG added: ‘Today we bring the Olympic Torch Relay to life. The Flame symbolises the Olympic spirit and its journey around the UK will bring the excitement of the Games to our streets. Now the people know the route the Olympic Flame will be carried along and the Torchbearers for their community, they can start planning how they might  celebrate and make it Walsall’s moment to shine.’

An average of 115 Torchbearers a day will carry the Olympic Flame during its 8,000 mile journey around the UK before it arrives at the Olympic Stadium on 27 July 2012 for the lighting of the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony, signifying the official start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Torchbearers confirmed to carry the Flame in Walsall include those that were successful through the public nomination processes run by LOCOG and the Presenting Partners, Coca Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung. LOCOG has endeavoured to slot all community Torchbearers within an hour of their nomination address so family and friends can cheer them on. Each Torchbearer will wear a white and gold uniform designed by Adidas.

LOCOG has worked closely with representatives from a number of sectors in each Nation and Region of the UK to devise the route and is taking the Olympic Flame to within ten miles of over 95% of the population.

Schools across the UK can now access free learning resources linked to the Olympic Torch Relay through Get Set (www.london2012.com/getset), the official London 2012 education programme.

Walsall Council would like to hear from you if you have any ideas about how your community can celebrate the Olympic Torch passing through the borough. Email your ideas to communications@walsall.gov.uk