Aggborough Stadium, home of Kidderminster Harriers
Historical profile of one of non-league football's oldest clubs...
Kidderminster Harriers Football Club's initial roots were actually formed in Athletics back in 1887, hence the unique 'Harriers' moniker, moving into rugby in 1880, first becoming Kidderminster Harriers and Football Club in 1880.
After considerable success it was decided in the Autumn of 1886 to revert to Association rules and this change heralded the dawn of professional football in Kidderminster.
The Birmingham and District League (West Midland League) was formed in 1889 and was at that time one of the Country's most powerful Leagues. Kidderminster Olympic were the first Champions (undefeated) and Kidderminster Harriers the first 'Runners-Up' before the two clubs amalgamated in 1890.
Harriers continued in the Birmingham League until 1939 winning the Championship in 1938 (undefeated) and in 1939. They finished as 'Runners-Up' in 1925 and 1935 as well as lifting the League Cup, also in 1938 and 1939, thus 'doing the double' in consecutive seasons.
The club's move to the Southern League for the 1939-40 season proved short-lived as the Second World War intervened after only three games. Immediately after the war Harriers played in the Birmingham League and Birmingham Combination before re-joining The Southern League in 1948-49. That Season the record attendance was registered for a game at Aggborough, when 9155 spectators saw Harriers lose 0-3 to local rivals Hereford United in an FA Cup tie.
In 1951-52 the revolutionary use of floodlights by the club gave Harriers the distinction of staging the first floodlit games in the history of the FA Cup, Southern Football League, Birmingham League, Worcestershire Senior Cup and Birmingham Senior Cup at Aggborough.
Financial problems in the 1950's resulted in the club returning to the Birmingham League (after being renamed the West Midland Regional League) in 1960, and after a brief period of consolidation, the honours began to return, beginning with the winning of the Birmingham Senior Cup in 1964.
A further twenty three trophies including four League Championships were won before Harriers rejoined the Southern League in 1972. Promotion to the Alliance Premier League (Football Conference) was clinched at the end of 1982-83 when, after never being out of the top four, for four seasons. Winning the Southern League Cup in 1980, the team finished Runners-Up in the first season of the reformed Premier Division.
The club's elevation to the Alliance Premier League (Conference) ushered in a quarter of a century of unprecedented success for the Harriers that would see them win every major honour in the Non-League game and ultimately become the 21st Century's first newcomers to the Football League.
1987 saw Kidderminster Harriers qualify for a Final at Wembley Stadium for the first time. The fixture was the FA Trophy against Burton Albion. After a 0-0 draw, Kidderminster went on to win the replay 2-1 (after extra time) at the Hawthorns. Harriers have since graced the Wembley turf on two further occasions, losing 2-1 to Wycombe Wanderers in 1991 before a record crowd of 34,842 and then again losing to Woking in 1995 by the same score line.
Whilst Harriers progression on the pitch continued, the club began to develop its facilities off the pitch as well. 1989 saw phase one of the ground development at Aggborough take place with the erection of two covered terraces behind each goal at a cost of £500,000. These replaced the cycling track that had encircled the pitch for decades.
The 1993-94 season proved to be Kidderminster's most successful campaign. Harriers shot to national fame when they reached the FA Cup Fifth Round (the record for a Non-League club) after defeating Birmingham City (2-1) at St. Andrews and Preston North End (1-0) at Aggborough.
A crowd of almost 8000 packed into Aggborough to see, Non-League Kidderminster edged out of the competition 1-0 by Premiership side West Ham United. Kidderminster clinched the Vauxhall Conference title for the first time in their history in the same year, but were denied a place in the Football League after it was deemed they had not met the required ground improvements.
Further improvements were made to Aggborough during the following Summer when a new 1,100 all-seated main stand was built, along with the installation of new floodlights at a cost of £450,000. July 2003 saw the completion of the new £1.1 million 2,040 all-seated East Stand, which now makes Aggborough Stadium an arena the club can be truly proud of.
The turn of the millennium signaled undoubtedly one of the most memorable periods in the club's illustrious history. Under the stewardship of former Liverpool legend Jan Molby, Harriers clinched promotion to the Football League in 2000, where they enjoyed five seasons.
A return to non-league football in 2005 didn't bring to an ultimately successful era - with former skipper Mark Yates at the helm Harriers reached the FA Trophy Final at the new Wembley in 2007, played in front of a record 53,000 fans.
The club continued to enjoy FA Cup runs and flirtations with promotions and, in 2010, another new era began with the appointment of Steve Burr as Manager. Immediately there was the return of the Worcestershire Senior Cup to the Aggborough trophy cabinet for the first time in eight years, whilst Burr's charges lost out in a brave battle for the play-offs in 2011 amid scenes of financial turmoil at the Club.
Under the guidance of Burr and a new Board of Directors the Club remains some way away from true comfort but undoubtedly once again moves in the right direction - both on and off the field.
In 2011 there was another agonising near-miss as Harriers finished sixth once again after another tremendous effort - everyone now determined to go against the odds in going one further in 2012.