History

Ken Francis has supplied the complete Mercian history.

On 5th May 1969 a meeting was convened consisting of Mr. G. Stokes-Roberts, Mr. K.A.J. Francis, Mr. B.R.Smith and Mr. and Mrs. F.M.Lloyd. to discuss the formation of a new chess club, to be named ‘Mercia’. Our first clubroom was at ‘The Bramford’ public house on the Tipton Road, Sedgley and our first night was on 10th September 1969. Our ‘A’ Team was in Division Two of the Wolverhampton and District Chess League captained by Wayne Clarke and vice-Captain Barry Smith. In this first season we won promotion to Division One having tied with Bushbury. We also had a second team captained by Ken Elwell.

In 1971 Mrs. Mabel Lloyd was runner-up in the Bidgood Cup and Gordon Stokes-Roberts was runner-up in the Birmingham League Individual tournament for Division Five. Also, the club decided to move premises to Coseley Secondary School. In 1973, Ken Francis won the Bidgood Cup and our ‘A’ Team was relegated back to Division Two. We moved venue again to the British Legion in Ruiton Street, Lower Gornal which would be the clubs home for many years. 1975 brought along further expansion by entering a team in the strong Worcester league. The club had grown enough to enter a third team in the Wolverhampton League by 1976. Barry Smith was runner-up in the Bidgood Cup.

In 1977 Mercia ‘A’ were promoted to Division 2 as runners-up in the WDCL. In 1979, Andrew McCumiskey reached the Semi-final of the Rock Cup and was selected for the County U-18 team. In 1981 Mercia withdrew from the Worcester League but Andrew McCumiskey won the Bidgood Cup. Ken Francis beat Barry Smith in the final of the BDCL Division Five Individual. In 1982, Ken Francis retained the title and the next year entered and won the Division Four title! Andrew McCumiskey reached the 1983 Rock Cup Final. In 1984, Mercia left their long term home of Lower Gornal and moved to Sedgley Labour Club (then the Royal Oak). Shortly afterwards they finally moved to the current home of the ‘Ex-Servicemen’s’ Club in the Walk Sedgley.

In the WDCL 1985 Lightning tournament Mercia won the Minor section and Ken Francis was runner-up in the BDCL Division Five Individual. In 1986, Barry Smith reached the Semi-final of the Rock Cup and Gordon Stokes-Roberts the semi-final of the Bidgood Cup and Ken Francis again runner-up in the BDCL Division Five. In 1987 Andrew McCumiskey reached the Semi-final of the Rock Cup. Also, the ‘A’ team won Division Three and were promoted to Division Two. The ‘B’ Team finished second in Division Four and were promoted to Division Three. In the Lightning tournament Mercia won the Major section.

1988 was a golden year for the club, the ‘A’ were promoted to Division One of the WDCL and Ken Francis won the Rock Cup and Division Five Individual. Additionally, Mark Sanderson won the Bidgood Cup. In 1990 Ken Francis won the BDCL Division Five Individual. In 1991 the ‘B’ Team won the Barrington Trophy in the Birmingham League. The trophy was retained in 1992 and the ‘A’ won the Homer Trophy. In 1993 Derek Perks  was runner-up in the BDCL Division 5 Individual. In 1994 Ken Francis won the BDCL Division Five Individual. In 1995 the ‘A’ were promoted to Division One of the WDCL and also to Division Four of the BDCL. Ken capped an excellent year by sharing the BDCL Division Five title.

1997 Derek Perks reaches the Semi-final of the BDCL Division Five Individual and Ken Francis the semi-final of the Rock Cup. 1999 saw the club’s 30 year celebrations. A special evening dinner was held with over 30 present and past members attending. Millennium year was a classic for Mercia,  the ‘A’ team won Division Two of the WDCL, the ‘B’ team were promoted and the BDCL team won the Townsend Trophy. The BDCL ‘B’ Team were runners-up in Division Seven and additionally, Ken Francis added the Bidgood Cup to the collection.

In 2004 the ‘A’ Team were promoted back to Division One and in 2005 survived a memorable season in a play-off against Stourbridge with Derek Perks picking up the player of the year award for only the second time. Sadly, after a long and hard fought season Mercia were finally relegated from Division One in April 2006. However, the second team had a splendid season and were promoted from Division Three. This set up one of the few 1st vs 2nd team games ever in September 2006. The ‘B’ team went straight down the next year and the ‘A’ team narrowly missed promotion having 2 or 3 key players missing for vital matches. The Div 2 champions St Georges were thrashed 5.5-0.5 as a small end of season consolation.

In September 2007 Gordon Stokes-Roberts passed away. As founder member and life-president he was an active player and club member for nearly 30 years. See here for a full obituary. The club also lost Les Scarrott a long standing member and player.

In a mixed 2007/08 season, the ‘B’ Team re-bounded straight back into the WDCL Div Two with the runner-up spot. The first team missed promotion again to Div One with key players missing for the critical games against Telford and Kidderminster. In the BDCL Div four the team finished middle table and were never in danger of relegation. The following year the first team were distinctly mid-table. A familiar story of players missing meant there was never any danger of relegation or promotion. For the second team it was a learning experience and the quality of the opposition was just too much to overcome. Despite being relegated Barry Smith put in a good performance on a high board.

2009/10 Mercia became BDCL Div 4 Champions and achieved their highest place in the Birmingham league so far. With just one loss the team gained 17 points from a possible 22. In the WDCL the team once again missed out on promotion to Division One due to player shortages against lower teams. In 2012/13 the second team returned to division three as runners-up. The first team finished mid-table in both the WDCL and BDCL.

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