THE year ahead looked a little gloomy at the beginning of January for the Birmingham and Solihull Bees. Problems on and off the pitch conspired to create an unhappy first season in the second tier of national rugby for the Bees.
A victim of their woes, Solihull RUFC dropped out of the league as they were hit hard by the problems of their parent club Bees.
The Solihull Moors were also looking nervously at the bottom of the table, the football club were embroiled in a relegation battle of their own at the beginning of the year.
BBC Sports Personality of the Year Tony McCoy completed an incredible 740-1 treble win at Warwick Races to lift the mood a little (if you backed him!).
Solihull Cycling Club began what would be a successful year for them in February by finishing second in the British National Cyclo Cross Championships in Sutton Park. The popular sport includes elements of mountain biking and cross county racing.
Meanwhile Moors gave themselves hope of survival with two 3-0 wins in three days, the second of which was at third-placed Hinckley Town.
Solihull speed skater Jon Eley returned home from the Winter Olympics “gutted” not to be accompanied by a medal in March, the former Solihull Barons player finished sixth overall.
Birmingham and Solihull Bees found themselves competing in the RFU Championship relegation play-offs after finishing bottom of the league and not winning a single game, however they made a fantastic start winning their opening two games against Moseley and Coventry.
Silhill FC celebrated in April, the side lifting the Birmingham County Junior Cup, defeating AFC Somers 3-1. The victory was Silhill’s second time of winning the cup in three years.
In probably the most extraordinary Solihull sports story of the year the Birmingham and Solihull Bees completed an epic ‘great escape’ from relegation by winning three out of their six relegation play-off games in May. It was a narrow victory in the last of those games against local rivals Moseley (34-38) that saw the Bees to safety and consigned Coventry to the drop. The Bees’ future was still in jeopardy however, with the RFU still to rule on whether the Bees’ business plan was viable after going into administration earlier in the season.
Solihull Barons ice hockey team missed out on promotion after they lost in a two-legged play-off against Trafford Metros. Barons lose at home 6-3 and then away 6-1 against the team from the division above.
Later on in the month Bees and Moors agreed a deal to groundshare and the Bees’ business plan was accepted by the RFU confirming their place in the Championship next season. The move sees the Bees move from Sharmans Cross Road across Solihull to Damson Park.
In June Mark Burge was appointed as the new boss of Highgate United. Mark had been the Shirley side’s reserve team manager and had been caretaker managing since the beginning of the season.
Solihull College proved themselves to be the best college in the country for golf by coming first AND second in the Intercollegiate tournament. The college entered an A and a B team in the competition which was open to college golf teams from across the UK.
Young Matt Shaw was leaving all other cyclists in his slipstream as another win in the National Youth Series made him the fastest in his under-10 category in July.
Matt Long was once again appointed captain of the Bees. The 37-year-old prop hoped to use his experience to guide the Bees to a more successful season in the Championship.
Moseley cricket club celebrated winning the Birmingham League’s Cockspur Twenty20 Cup in August comfortably beating Barnt Green by 60 runs in the final.
Solihull Arden tennis star Alannah Griffin was crowned the British under-14 tennis champion after sweeping all before her at the Junior National Championships in Bournemouth. Losing by three games to one in the first set of the final, Alannah then went on a blistering run to win the next 11 games and take the match 6-3 6-0.
Despite being relegated to the Warwickshire League in September Olton and West Warwickshire cricket club were confident that the skilled youngsters coming through their ranks would propel them towards promotion.
In other cricket news Knowle and Dorridge narrowly missed out on clinching the Birmingham Premier League title, Shrewsbury securing the title even before the K&D’s final game against Wellington.
Berkswell finished runners-up to Evesham in the Birmingham League Division Two, securing promotion with a fine 156 run victory over Water Orton.
Solihull’s young cyclists continued to do the borough proud in October. Jack Ravenscroft winning the British Cycling national series and club mate Danny Fox finishing third.
Bees made a quick improvement on last season, by winning a game! They blitzed Esher, scoring six tries and winning 38-16.
It wasn’t such good news for their Damson Park stablemates the Solihull Moors. Despite a decent start to their league campaign they crashed out of the FA Cup to lower league opposition Barwell.
Is Solihull’s David Eadon the next Jenson Button? The ambitious 21-year-old was full of confidence after winning the TKM British Karting championship for the second year running.
Shirley’s kicking king Steve Merricks fought his way to a second world championship in Tae Kwon Do. The instructor picked up a heavyweight title in Telford.
Bristol rugby coach Paul Hull made headlines after his side lost at home to the Bees in November. Hull’s claim that it was the “worst day in his career” drew an angry riposte from Bees’ director of rugby Russell Earnshaw who felt his side were not given the credit they deserved for their impressive 33-35 victory.
Solihull Moors also secured an excellent away win at promotion chasing Telford. An eventful game contained six goals, a sending off and a brawl in the tunnel.
Simon Hunt escaped the wintry weather by joining up with the England Sevens team in Dubai in December. The Bees’ winger made it clear he wasn’t just there for the winter sun with some key contributions, including a match winning try in the final against Samoa.
Finally, Solihull’s Matt Thomas helped put the game of Padel Tennis on the sporting map as part of Team GB who competed in the Padel Tennis World Championships in Mexico. The team secured its best ever result finishing in 11th position.