Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard

London

September 2015

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hannoverscher SC (Germany)


Hannoverscher Sport-Club von 1893 e.V is a sports club from the city of Hanover in Germany’s Lower Saxony who were formed on September 1st 1893.


The club has departments for tennis, swimming, boule-petanqué, sailing, handball, fitness and health, koronarsport, table tennis and volleyball as well as football. The club was formed by students as Fußsport-Verein 1897 as purely a rugby club.

The club went on to become German rugby champions in 1909. Several mergers over the next thirty years would add to the strength of the club.


Herta 1910 Hannover joined up in 1910, with SuS 1911 Hannover merging three years later. In 1918 VfR Hannover linked up to the club which was renamed Hannoverschen SC 02. Other clubs involved in the mergers were Hannoverscher SC and Germania Hannover.

After the end of World War One, Hannoverschen SC 02 played in the top division of the regional Südkreisliga. In 1924 and 1925 the team finished as league runners-up behind Arminia Hannover and Eintracht Braunschweig.


In 1926 HSC won the league but lost the final against neighbours Arminia. Games followed in the North German Championship against Hamburger SV, Altona 93 and Holstein Kiel, which eventually saw Hannoverschen finish in fourth position.

After further mergers the club reached the Oberliga Südhannover-Braunschweig, before joining one of sixteen top flight Gauliga’s under the rule of the Third Reich; where the club were placed in Gauliga Niedersachsen.


After World War Two HSC settled down at their base at Constantinstraße, which was located between a gasometer and a dump, from which HSC earned the nickname of  ‘Elf vom Gasometer’ (Eleven from the Gasometer).

In 1946 HSC reached the play-offs for a place in the Oberliga Niedersachsen-Süd, but the match was lost to Werder Hannover. In 1949 the club joined Amateuroberliga Niedersachsen-West, before switching to the Oststaffel a couple of years later.


However, the change saw the team and club struggle, with finances a particular worry. It was rumoured that the club treasurer fled with the takings from a friendly with Arminia Hannover to keep the cash for the club and away from the bailiffs.

By 1955-56 the club had recovered to win the Amateurliga Hannover to reach the Amateuroberliga, the second level of regional football at the time. The leagues were re-formed in 1963, with HSC joining the new Verbandsliga.


In 1968-69 the club had fallen to the Bezirksliga, but won promotion in 1970 under head coach Werner Müller to the Verbandsliga Süd, where the team ended their debut season as runners-up.

The 1971-72 season saw HSC win Verbandsliga Süd to reach the third tier Landesliga Niedersachsen with future 1. FC Köln Director of Sport and Cameroon and Urawa Red Diamonds head coach, Volker Finke in the team.


The side struggled and survived relegation in 1974 as several sides were promoted to Oberliga Nord to fill the vacancies created through the introduction of 2. Bundesliga. Eventually the young HSC team were relegated at the end of the 1976-77 campaign.

Twelve months later HSC dropped down another step to the Bezirksliga. After a decade or so at the same level, the club climbed back to the Landesliga West in 1990-91. In 1994-95 a further promotion to the Niedersachsenliga West was achieved.


In 1997-98 the side were relegated to the Bezirksliga before returning to the Landesliga in 2011-12. Promotion to Oberliga Niedersachsen followed in 2015-16. The rise lasted just one season as the team finished second bottom of the table and were relegated back to the Landesliga Hannover which was sixth tier of German football at the time.

Hannoverscher SC will play in the Landesliga Hannover in the 2017-18 season.


My visit

Monday 30th January 2017


I was in Hanover for the match between Hannover 96 and 1. FC Kaiserslautern later that evening. In the meantime I was determined to do a bit of sightseeing as well as visiting a couple of local clubs.

I’d just been to the Rudolf-Kalweit-Stadion home of Arminia Hanover, from where I took a U Bahn across the city to the Hannover Vier Grenzen stop before talking the ten minute walk along Am Listholze and then Constantinstraße to the gates of Hannoverscher SC.


The large complex had facilities for all the clubs other sports, with the rugby pitch and clubhouse of Sportclub Germania-List v.1900 e.V. just beyond. I walked past the tennis courts and clubhouse of HSC to the main football pitch.

The ground was pretty basic, with hard standing all the way around the pitch. The far side had several rows of open terrace right the way along the pitch, with a cover straddling the half way line. 


After completing my photography I wandered to the slightly nearer Pelikanstraße stop for a train back into the city centre. It was a little bit early to head to my digs so I enjoyed a couple of lunchtime libations in the small bar on Kramerstraße, which was traditional and full of character.







Sunday, August 6, 2017

Newhaven


Newhaven FC is a non-league football club formed in 1887, who are located in the ferry port of the same name at the mouth of the River Ouse in East Sussex; around ten miles east of Brighton.


After playing local football, Newhaven joined the Brighton, Hove & District Football League, until the end of the 1919–20 season. The 10920-21 campaign saw the introduction of the Sussex County League, with ‘The Dockers’ competing as founder members.


The club amassed several top ten finishes in Division One before the team lifted the league title in the 1953-54 season. In 1964-65 Newhaven were relegated to Division Two; before returning to the top tier just twelve months later as league runners-up.


A further relegation came to the Fort Road club in 1967-68. It would take until the 1971-72 season before Newhaven returned to Division One. A second league title followed shortly after in the 1973-74 campaign.

The fluctuations at the club continued as the team went back down to Division Two at the completion of the 1975-76 season. Fifteen years were spent at that level before Newhaven won Division Two in 1990-91 to regain their Division One status.


In 1994-95 the side went back down to Division Two, and this was followed by a further demotion to Division Three in 1998-99. The Division Three title was secured in 2011-12 as the club had an upsurge in fortunes.

Newhaven ended the 2012-13 Division Two campaign as runners-up to return to Division One. The Sussex County League was retitled in the summer of 2015 to become the Southern Combination, with the old Division One becoming the Premier Division.


The Dockers benefitted from the name change as they weighed in with a third place and then ninth place finish in the 2016-17 season under managers Sean Breach and Andy Cook at the Trafalgar Ground.

Newhaven FC will play in the Southern Combination Premier Division in the 2017-18 season.



My visit

Monday 24th July 2017


Every so often my hobby offers up a wonderful surprise regarding the standard of a ground. Newhaven was to be a classic example.

After alighting at Newhaven Town station from the number 10 bus, I crossed the bridge over the River Ouse and walked along the side of the water before reaching Fort Road. Around ten minutes later I arrived at the sports field; with Newhaven Cricket Club and then the football club across the green.


The football ground was locked, but the perimeter fence low enough for me to see down the near side. The fantastic Main Stand stood out like a beacon across the pitch. I wandered onto Castle Hill to get a proper view.


Both ends had open seating; which could well have come from Withdean Stadium. The cricket field side had a thin section of flat open standing. The two tier Main Stand was all seated with club rooms at the rear upstairs. It was flanked by open standing.

The hill behind the goal offered perfect viewing and contained a hard court for ball sports, a skate and BMX track and a turfed obstacle track for bikes and motor cycles. The site of the old fort was at the summit of the hill, with the ferry port to the distance on the right.


Once complete I retraced my tracks while arranging a forthcoming Scarborough Athletic away trip with a good pal while keeping an eye on the bus title before jumping on the excellent number 10 coastal service at the Elim Church towards Peacehaven.






Eastbourne Borough


Eastbourne Borough FC is a non-league football club from the south coast town of the same name who were found as Langney FC in 1964, after the district in which the club played. Langey joined the Eastbourne & District Football League, where they were given a place in Division Two.

In the summer of 1968 the club changed their title to Langney Sports FC as they continued to play on local recreation grounds before moving to Princes Park; which was located next door to Eastbourne United’s Oval home.


In 1973-74 Langney won promotion to the local Premier Division before advancing once more in 1983 as the club was elected as a founding member of Division Three of the Sussex County League.

At the same time Sports moved from Princes Park to a new home ground on Priory Lane; right in the heart of the Langney community. In 1986-87 the club won the Division Three title along with two cup competitions. A second successive promotion was achieved the following campaign from Division Two.


Pete Cherry who had managed the club all the way through from local football departed to be replaced by Steve Richardson and then Garry Wilson in 1999 as the club continued to finish in the top four of Division One of the Sussex County League.

Sports lifted the league title in 1999-00 and were promoted to the Southern League Eastern Division, where the club consolidated its position. On the 26th May 2001 the club changed their name to Eastbourne Borough FC.


Borough finished as runners-up in the Eastern Division of 2002-03, winning promotion to the Premier Division. During the period, Sports lifted the Sussex Senior Cup and were beaten finalists on one occasion.

An eleventh place finish in 2003-04 was enough to clinch Borough a place in the newly formed Conference South for the following season as non-league football was re-organised during the summer of 2004.


The clubs debut season at the new level also ended in drama. After a fifth place finish, Borough defeated Thurrock and Cambridge City in the play-offs to face Altrincham for a place in non-league’s top flight. The team went down 2-1 in the final at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium.

The 2005-06 campaign saw the club reach Round One of the FA Cup for the first time. A draw against League Two Oxford United at Priory Lane was achieved before Borough went down in a replay at the Kassam Stadium.


The league season ended with a mid table berth, while a seventeenth place ending in 2006-07 also saw Round One Cup action. This time Borough went out to Weymouth. The same stage was reached once more the following season ending with a loss to Barrow after a replay.

However, Borough finished runners-up of Conference South in 2007-08 and were promoted to the Conference following victories in the play-offs over Braintree Town and then Hampton and Richmond Borough at Stevenage.


All the time the facilities at Priory Lane were being upgraded to match the clubs status. Their inaugural season saw the team finish in mid table as a part time club up against many full time outfits.

A victory on the final day of the 2009-10 season, by courtesy of a late penalty against Oxford United saved the side from relegation. Borough’s third season in the Conference; 2010-11, ended in relegation back to Conference South.


However, some solace came as the club competed in the first ever game at Brighton & Hove Albion’s new Amex Stadium; going down 2-0 to an Albion side in the final of the Sussex Senior Cup.

In January 2012 the club dispensed with Garry Wilson; their manager of thirteen years. The former Southampton midfielder Tommy Widdrington came in as his replacement as the season ended with Borough in twelfth position.


Widdrington rebuilt the squad as the club introduced an academy and Chairman of forty years; Len Smith, stood down. Mid table finishes continued although a third Sussex Senior Cup was added to the clubs list of honours.

In the summer of 2016 the pitch at Priory Lane was changed to an artificial FieldTurf surface to allow for more club and community use. Widdrington departed in April 2017 to take up a post at Coventry City, with Bognor Regis Town boss Jamie Howell arriving to take up the helm at Borough.


Eastbourne Borough will play in the National League South in the 2017-18 season.


My visits

Tuesday 12th December 2007


With a day off from work I decided to head down to the south coast on a cool but sunny day to adventure some new places and visit some non-league football clubs. I certainly got plenty of exercise!

After stopping off at Lewes, Eastbourne was my second town on the list. A look at Eastbourne Town’s Saffrons ground was followed by a walk along the prom to Eastbourne United Association’s Oval. By then I needed a bit of a rest so I let a bus take the strain.


Unable to find a nearby stop I headed to the Tesco Express and then took the service which dropped me off at Shelley Avenue, close to the ground. The Priory Lane Stadium was locked up, but I still got a decent look through some gaps in fences.

It was apparent that Borough had built the ground gradually and had a fine non-league football ground offering plenty of cover for spectators. There was also a training pitch on the approach to the entrances.


Once I’d taken my snaps I embarked on a longer than expected walk, along Priory Road, which turned into a B road as I headed into the country; eventually reaching the pretty village of Pevensey over a mile away to catch a train further down the coast at Pevensey & Westham station.


Eastbourne Borough 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 2 (Monday 24th July 2017) Pre Season Friendly (att: 319)


While the match at Priory Lane had been pencilled in for a couple of weeks, I’d made the most of my day off work and visited the grounds of Seaford Town, Newhaven, Peacehaven & Telscombe, Bexhill United and Eastbourne United Association as well as walking many miles.

With a bit of down time before the match I sought out two pubs on Seaside. The Arlington Arms was very much a locals pub with a decent pint of Harvey’s Bitter. The juke box wasn’t too inspiring and rather loud, so I decided to give the Alexandra Arms over the road a go.


I’d made an error. The pint of Tribute was satisfactory, but a gaggle of local lads had obviously downed tools very early and were louder than the music over the road. I wasn’t too upset when it was time for the bus to the match.

The Loop service dropped me at the Shelley Walk stop, just a couple of minutes from the ground. I poked my head in the clubhouse, but decided to go straight into the ground. Admission was £8, a programme £1 with teamsheets being issued free.


It was time for food. Only one of the three hatches were open for the night. I purchased a cheeseburger with onions, chips and a team for £6.30. It wasn’t bad fare and filled me for the price. The staff had been most pleasant. I headed to the Main Stand to enjoy it.

Priory Lane wasn’t quite as vast as I’d thought from my previous visit, but it was still a very decent venue for a club of Borough’s size. I noted the inscription ‘Langney Sports’ was still on the wall backing the open section of terrace.


The Main Stand was all seated. Surprisingly it didn’t have a wall next to the pitch. Fans simply walked along next to the artificial surface to find their aisle. The covered terracing snaked right round two and a bit sides.

The players’ facilities and club shop were behind a covered terracing at the entrance end. Borough had cleverly built and extra storey which double up as corporate boxes looking out over the pitch.


Before kick off the man on the PA read out the sides; quite frustratingly in the case of the visitors who had decided to take to the pitch wearing squad numbers and confusing everyone. The announcer did his best, but I felt his pain.

Eastbourne started the game far the better. Bulky centre forward Nat Pinney was leading the side well and had an early effort disallowed when turning in the effort of skipper Sergio Torres.


New Borough boss Jamie Howell had his side playing some lovely football on the deck and using the full width of the pitch as players interchanged positions to become involved. Torres was pulling the strings, while Will Hendon and Gavin McCallum were excellent down the right.

Both McCallum and Torres brought decent stops out of Daggers keeper Mark Cousins. A wonderful close passing movement nearly put through Jamie Taylor as the home side continued to impress.


Seven minutes before the break Borough got the breakthrough that their play merited as Yemi Odubade saw his shot parried, but his sheer determination saw him eventually bundle the ball home despite protests from the Dagenham defenders.

At the interval I wandered around to watch the second period from near the gate as I had decisions to make regarding my departure. The temperature was dropping so I indulged in a warming Bovril.


The second half was a different story. Borough still had their spells in possession and a couple of efforts on goal but Dagenham looked a far better outfit. Manager John Still’s team talk was working as his side began take command from the back.

I had my own decision to make with just over ten minutes remaining. My train back to London was at 10.16. I could hang around until full time and then walk fifteen minutes to connect with a bus back to town or leave and get on one outside the gates.


A Dagenham midfielder had a long shot of the half volley cannon back off the home crossbar, but my decision was made. It’d been a long day so I walked to the stop despite the game being in the balance. Twitter would have to do for the final part of the game.

Sure enough the Daggers equalised through full back Sam Ling with nine minutes remaining. In the closing stages Ling’s throw down the line found Mason Bloomfield, who crossed for Michael Cheek to score the winner.


To add to my frustration, all this took place while waiting for the late running bus. At least I could watch the highlights later via the Daggers Twitter feed, and I was going to make the train.

The Loop service took a very elongated route back to the terminus. At one point I thought we were heading away from the station. It was somewhat of a relief when I got on board the empty train directly back to Victoria. I slept very well after a great day which had included me walking eleven miles.





Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cray Valley Paper Mills


Cray Valley Paper Mills FC is non-league football which was formed in 1919 for the workers of the paper mills in and around Crayford in Kent. The club initially became members of Division Two of the Sidcup & District League upon formation.

Promotion to Division One of that league was achieved in their debut season. A few years later ‘The Millers’ joined the Kent County Amateur League; going on to lift the Division Three West title in 1936-37.



Cray Valley moved to become members of the South London Alliance from the 1954-55 season. The team were crowned as Division One champions in 1979-80 before lifting the Premier Division title in 1981-82.

The club had played up until that point at the Paper Mills Sports Ground in St Paul’s Cray. However, when the mill shut in 1981, the club were forced to use several different grounds.



Despite a subsequent demotion, Paper Mills won Division One once again in 1983-84 and finished runners-up of the Premier Division in 1988-89. In 1991 the club progressed to the Spartan League.

When the Spartan League merged with the South Midlands league in 1997, Cray Valley were placed in Division One South. The Millers finished runners-up in the inaugural season, but decided to leave the competition and join the London Intermediate League.



Valley made another switch for the 2001-12 season as they were placed in Division One West of the Kent County League. The divisional title was won in 2002-03 as the club were promoted to the Premier Division.

A third place finish in 2010-11 saw Paper Mills promoted to the Kent League. The Millers moved into The Badgers Sports Ground in Eltham, while the league was renamed the Southern Counties East League from the 2013-14 season with PM being led by manager Steve Chapman.



Greenwich Borough FC signed a thirty year lease to share Badgers from the 2016-17 season, as numerous ground improvements were carried out at the venue.

When an additional division was added in the summer of 2016, Cray Valley became members of the Premier Division under new manager James Collins, who led the team to a fourth place finish in 2016-17; the clubs highest ever league finish.



The season also ended in further glory, as Cray Valley PM became the lowest ever ranked side to lift the London Senior Cup, when they defeated Metropolitan Police 2-1 at Champion Hill, Dulwich.

Cray Valley Paper Mills FC will play in the Southern Counties East League Premier Division in the 2017-18 season.


My visits

Greenwich Borough 3 Corinthian Casuals 4 (Tuesday 25th April 2017) Isthmian League Division One South Play-Off Semi-Final (att: 427)

Click here to read about my first visit Badgers for an exciting play-off semi-final.


Cray Valley Paper Mills 3 Dulwich Hamlet 2 (Thursday 20th July 2017) Pre Season Friendly (att: c60)



It was a pleasant but blustery evening as I set out after a brief siesta to take the edge off an interesting early shift at work. The tube to London Bridge was followed by a train down to Lee, from where I walked to the Badgers Sports Club.

I paid my £5 admission in advance to ensure I got a team sheet, which came with another page of club information before heading to the bar. My 300cl bottle of Magners was extravagantly priced, so I savoured every drop at a very steady pace before entering the ground.



The ground had been added to over the summer in the shape of a rather ugly scaffold cover behind the near goal. The pitch was very grassy and had signs of being well watered. This was a vast improvement to the surface of a couple of months previously.

The Greenwich Borough squad were been put through their paces on the practise pitch next door as the teams came out rather haphazardly and in a way to remember the good old days before the current PC formality.



Kick off was slightly delayed as hoses had to be pushed back from the far touchline before the game got off to a pacy and even start. There was plenty of nice touches and clever passing. This was promising to see as Hamlet’s line up was very much second string.

The experience Dulwich forward Gavin Tomlin opened the scoring when put through and slotting the ball through the legs of the advancing keeper on ten minutes. The visitors centre back Harly Wise controlled the back four, with the leggy Mohammed Mohammed playing well in midfield.



Paper Mills had a couple of decent half chances. Both Aaron Rhule and Zenze gayle caused problems with their pace from out wide, but centre forward Scott Reilly was a little short on his finishing skills.

During the half while sitting in the stand I overheard a couple of blokes chatting. One had been to the opening of Scarborough’s ground the previous Saturday and not been totally impressed. I know I should have kept out of the way, but he was talking cobblers.



It turned out he was a Charlton Athletic fan who also visits Pickering and supports the Pikes. It’s amazing how local gossip about incorrect players wages went the full length of the country. He also had difficulty in grasping the difference between in house catering to 100 and 1,000 fans.

At least his mate cleared up that it wasn’t the old Eltham Town ground where we were watching, so I hadn’t played there in the past. That particular venue was on Green Lane a good half mile away.



Grabbing a up of tea for a quid at the break, I too up a position in the small covered terrace for the second period. A few substitutions had been made during the break, and the changes soon benefitted the home side.

Soon after the restart Gayle cut inside and fired past Hamlet keeper Ferdinand De Sena. The custodian had flapped at several crosses previously, and I would guess that he would have been upset that the shot got past him.



Valley’s central defender Joe Matthews came close with a header as De Sena once again misjudged a cross. The temperature was dropping by the minute as an almighty scramble in the Hamlet area somehow kept the ball out.

However, there was nothing anyone could do about a twenty five yard rocket from full back Danny Smith, which flew into the top corner of the net to put the home side ahead. The home skipper Russell Bedford was having a fine game in midfield as his side took control.



Several more changes were made from both benches as players picked up invaluable match time. Kicking up the slope was helping Cray Valley as they continued to heap on the pressure.

They made it 3-1 with around twenty minutes remaining as Gayle fired in a low cross, which was met on the half volley by Jordan Sandiford who fired home. Then after a little lull Hamlet began to fight back.

In their first attack in some time a Hamlet replacement was brought down in the box. Referee Alex Stacchini had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Caio Guimares made no mistake as he fired into the bottom corner.



Dulwich continued to have plenty of possession and were starting to put the Millers defence under a bit of pressure. However, with just a few minutes remaining I decided to bit the bullet and head off as I had an early start the next day.

The 321 to New Cross Gate, Overground to Canada Water and then Jubilee line got me back to Kingsbury in just over an hour. I’d thoroughly enjoyed my evening out; despite being preached to about my own club!