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


September 2015

Monday, April 23, 2018

Udon Thani (Thailand)


Udon Thani FC is a professional football club that was formed in 1999 by the inaugural Chairman, Mr.Sathaporn Kotabut, in the north eastern Thailand city of the same name.

The club entered into the Thailand Provincial League; which was the third tier of Thai football at the time, for the 1999-00 season finishing in fourth place. The club continued competing in the same competition for a further three campaigns.

The best finish came in 2001 as ‘The Orange Giants’ finished fourth once again. Udon Thani withdrew from competitive football between 2005 and 2008 before re-emerging as a club playing in Regional League Division 2 North Eastern Region.

Home matches were played at the Institute of Physical Education Udon Thani Stadium, as the team weighed in with a third place finish in 2009 with coach Phithaya Santawong at the helm. Two mid table finished followed as several coaches had spells in charge of the team.

Another third spot arrived in 2012 with Ousmanou Mohamadou leading the scoring under the stewardship of the Korean Park No Bong before the returning Santawong took control once again to take control for the 2013 campaign.

Two consecutive runners-up berths followed in 2013 and 2014 as Oyewole Yemi Joseph and then Tomiwa Bolarinwa banged in the goals under coaches Santawong, Voottivat Daengsamerkiat and  Somkait Fongpach.

Promphong Kransumrong scored on an incredible 32 occasions in 2015 as Udon Thani finished in third place as Worradet Phuprapri, Hannarong Chunhakunakorn and Somkait Fongpach were employed throughout the season by a frustrated owner.

The club moved to the Udon Thani Rajabhat University Stadium for the 2016 campaign, and the change worked, as Udon Thani romped to the league title as striker Natthaphat Somsri led the way under the tutelage of coach Choketawee Promrut.

This led to the team qualifying for the knock out Champions League to strive for promotion. Nara United were defeated before Udon Thani went out to local rivals Nongbua Pitchaya on away goals.

The 2017 season saw the league system re-organised in Thailand, with Udon Thani being placed in Thai League 3 Upper Region. A runners-up place under Paniphon Kerdyam, and fired by the goals of Valci Júnior led to a place in the play-offs.

Trang were defeated on away goals to send the club up to the second tier Thai League 2. The club returned to the Institute of Physical Education Udon Thani Stadium under the team management of Uthai Boonmoh.

The Thai coach was replaced by Darren Read in April 2018.

Udon Thani FC will play in Thai League 2 in the 2018 season.

My visit

Udon Thani 1 Army United 1 (Sunday 8th April 2018) Thai League 2 (att: 4,534)

There is nothing I enjoy more in life than visiting new places. The amazing Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes had drawn to an end the previous evening and I was ready to relax and enjoy myself without any alarm calls for the final few days of my trip.

My good pal Steve Walker was to join me on another adventure and I’d done all the bookings in eager anticipation a few weeks previously. Just taking the journey down to Udon Thani proved to be an interesting experience.

My mate turned up at my hotel the worse for wear, after enjoying a few too many bars in great company. We boarded the small plane with just two seats on each side of the aisle for the flight south east. He was still merry and wouldn’t shut up for a hours flight. We were about the only westerners on the flight.

We quickly got a cab into town where we found our excellent UD Residence Hotel and grabbed lunch at the impressive Good Corner and a quick recce of the area before a siesta. We reconvened and plumped for the brilliant Restaurant Da Sofia.

The pizza was as good as I could remember tasting and the service first class. We headed to the Day & Night bar area where the locals were most helpful. After a couple of beers at incredibly agreeable prices, it was time to hail a tuk tuk to the match.

A vehicle was commandeered for us; presumably with the driver knowing where he was going. If only things were so simple in Thailand! We were about to have a tour and my patience severely tested.

I was pretty sure that we were heading in the wrong direction, but I left it to our pilot. This was not my greatest ever decision. Within fifteen minutes we’d fought through the heavy traffic to arrive at a municipal facility with a stand, but definitely no professional football.

We headed down a side road where the driver got out and spoke to some locals; two of whom wore Udon Thani replica shirts. Surely they would know? All was looking well as we joined the cross city traffic, some more were decked out in club colours.

All of a sudden, for reasons best known to himself, our driver took a left turn. He looked back to us with pride, only to be met resounding “mai” from the pair of us. He’d taken us to the former home at Udon Thani Rajabhat University.

Off we went again. He obviously had two options on his list. Time was getting on, so I was more than a little relieved to see the shining floodlights of the correct stadium from the main Thanon Pracha Raksa.

We did a left down Ban Lueam to the entrance of the Institute of Physical Education. We jumped out and gave our new close smiling friend a substantial tip on top of the arranged fare. We must have been in a good mood!

I’d contacted some western fans of the club through their Facebook page and was aware that the club got good attendances. Indeed, the stadium had been extended in recent weeks. Rather than going in the best seats, we decided to go with the masses on the far side.

On the way around we saw fans playing instruments and generally getting into a party atmosphere. Thais really did make an effort around the match. The ever amiable Steve ended up playing the tambourine with one group!

To see the atmosphere outside and during the game, click here for a home made video.

Our tickets cost 80 Baht (around £1.70) which allowed us access in any of the three sides opposite the main area. Water cost just a few further Baht. It was encouraging to see so many youngsters in attendance. The fair pricing made it affordable.

Initially we tried to get in the main area down the side, but it was absolutely mobbed from around thirty minutes before kick off. We ended up in one of the new sections near the corner flag, with a tree of all things restricting the view slightly.

The Main Stand had covered seating on the far side. Opposite were open deep steps to allow sitting, with extensions on either side. The ends around the running track had open deep steps, with the visiting fans being plonked in a small section in the corner.

The Army fans were well regimented. It was as though they were still on duty. They remained silent but then chanted in unison; whereas the home support had several little groups around the arena all playing their own instruments and singing their own songs.

The match got underway and soon became clear that it wasn’t going to be a classic. Army’s tactics were extremely obvious. They’d come north to frustrate the hosts and to try and grab a winning goal. Udon Thani did not look to have many ideas how to counteract this tactic.

The hosts Milan Bubalo looked most disappointing. We quickly came to the conclusion that Udon were not playing with enough width to try and get around the disciplined United defence. Indeed, it could have been the Bangkok side who took the lead.

On ten minutes Brazilian midfielder Diego Lima saw a header go just over the bar. Udon were frustrated when they thought they’d sprung the offside trap. We thought it a poor decision at the time, and later highlights confirmed it.

Army came close again half way through the opening period, as Brazilian forward Erivelto saw his effort go narrowly wide. The half closed with a challenge that bordered on assault on Army’s Brazilian skipper Rodrigo Frauches. The referee either didn’t see it or made a shocking decision not to take action.

At the interval we decided to move places and sat behind the goal Udon were hoping to attack. The view wasn’t the best, but we were around a decent atmosphere as fan groups at either side of us tried to raise their side.

The first half had been frankly awful, and we were hoping for some quality after the restart. It was Army who took the lead three minutes after the break. A free kick went wide and found Frauches who lobbed it back into the box where Erivelto headed home.

Udon keeper Witsanusak Kaewruang went down as though shot by a sniper, when he had made a real mess of things from the cross. He hadn’t impressed us too much, and his actions smacked of trying to restore his pride.

We thought that would have been a call for Army to defend even more resolutely, but Udon levelled things up ten minutes later. A very good inswinging cross from Kasidech Wettayawong found the head of Danusorn Wijitpanya to glance home.

Army responded with a fine move and low cross from Tossakorn Boonpeng for Suradet Thongchai to stoop and head goalwards, only to be denied by Kaewruang who made a decent stop to redeem himself.

Udon returned fire when a fine jinking run put in a forward who struck the post; alas from an offside position. A long range effort from an Army player caused confusion for Kaewruang after it deflected off one of his defenders.

The match was into the fourth minute of stoppage time when United’s Kanok Kohyangphueak was shown a harsh red card for a robust challenge. His side had one last opportunity to snatch all three points when Erivelto’s misguided free header nearly set up Diego Lima.

We headed back to the main road and then started walking down Thanon Pracha Raksa towards the city centre when we flagged down a tuk tuk heading in the other direction. We were soon dropped at Central Plaza and heading back to Day & Night.

We went on to have a fantastic evening in a vibrant and most agreeable area for nightlife. It certainly received the thumbs up when we gathered our thoughts the following morning.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Stirling Albion

Stirling Albion FC is a football club from the historic city of Stirling, in Central Scotland, that was formed in 1945 to replace King’s Park who formerly represented the city in the Scottish Leagues.

King’s Park had been formed in 1875, playing at Forthbank Park, after moving from the King’s Park area of Stirling. In 1881 the club became founder members of the Scottish Alliance before leaving after just one season.

King’s Park would go on to play in some lower level league’s before joining the Central Football League in 1909; remaining there until 1921, when they joined the newly formed Division Two of the Scottish Football League.

The team just missed out on promotion in 1927-28, before debutant Jim Dyet netted eight times in one game against Forfar Athletic in January 1930. Alex Haddow became another fans favourite with his scoring feats.

King’s Park played a few friendlies during World War Two until the club went into hibernation. They were dealt a blow when Forthbank Park was bombed by the Luftwaffe. The club folded in 1945 and were replaced by Stirling Albion FC.

Thomas Fergusson, a local coal magnate, had been in charge at King’s Park before becoming the driving force behind Albion. He purchased the Annfield estate, a quarter of a mile from the city centre, where Annfield Stadium was constructed.

Stirling had several promotions and relegations over their first twenty years. In 1948-49 Albion were promoted to the top flight from Scottish League Division B, but went back down just twelve months later.

The team went back up at the first attempt in 1950-51 but finished bottom in Scottish League Division A and returned to the second tier. The Scottish League Division B title was secured in 1952-53. This time ‘The Binos’ lasted three seasons in the top division.

Albion won the retitled Scottish League Division Two championship in 1957-58, before the side was relegated again in 1959-60. Another second tier title arrived at Annfield in 1960-61, but yet again Stirling lasted just one season in the top flight; as the club earned the nickname of ‘The Yo-Yo’s’.

Albion finished bottom of Division Two before winning the title twelve months later in 1964-65. The team lasted until the culmination of the 1967-68 campaign before dropping back down. The Binos remained there until league restructuring in 1975; when they were placed in the third level Scottish League Division Two.

Stirling won that league in 1976-77, and moved up to Division One; where they remained until being relegated in 1980-81. Alex Smith took charge of the team as they finished regularly in mid table.

Smith was replaced by George Peebles in 1986 as the council bought Annfield to save the club from financial strife, before installing an Astroturf pitch to maximise profits. The Main Stand was demolished owing to safety concerns.

Peebles, then Jim Fleeting and then star striker John Brogan took turns as manager; with Brogan leading Albion to the Division Two title in 1990-91. The new Forthbank Stadium, a mile from the city centre, was opened in 1993 to replace Annfield Stadium.

Albion went up in 1995-96 under Kevin Drinkell, before going down to the third tier in 1997-98, a year after the league’s were restructured once again to include four divisions; despite the goals of Alex Bone. John Philliben took over in charge of the team, before former international Ray Stewart arrived as the new team manager in 2000.

The team was relegated from the Second Division in 2000-01 with Stewart being replaced by Allan Moore in the summer of 2002. Promotion back to the Second Division followed a few months later, as fortunes continued to improve.

Albion won a place in the First Division after clinching promotion via the play-offs in 2006-07 as a Stewart Devine goal along with a brace from Robert Snodgrass defeated Airdrie at the Excelsior Stadium. However, the part-timers were relegated after just twelve months.

Moore took the club back to the second tier after the team lifted the Second Division title in 2009-10 before Moore departed to Greenock Morton, while Chairman Peter McKenzie agreed to sell the club to the Stirling Albion Supporters Trust.

John O’Neill took over as manager before he was replaced by Jocky Scott in January 2011. However, the change couldn’t save The Binos from relegation back to the Second Division a few months later. Defender Greig McDonald was appointed as manager in December 2011.

Stirling were relegated to the Third Division at the end of the 2011-12 campaign. Jordan White lifted the gloom at the Forthbank Stadium with his goals. Promotion arrived with a play-off final win against East Fife in 2013-14.

Stuart McLaren arrived as manager in the summer of 2014 but he couldn’t prevent Albion from finishing bottom of the table and being relegated to Scottish League Two for the 2015-16 season. Dave Mackay replaced McLaren in November 2016, as Ross McMillan captained the team.

Stirling Albion will play in Scottish League Two in the 2017-18 season.

My visit

Stirling Albion 1 Cowdenbeath 0 (Wednesday 31st January 2018) Scottish League Two (att: 395)

My trains and hotel in Glasgow had been booked for a few weeks, with my intention being the Premiership match between St Johnstone and Hamilton Academical. However, the game was postponed owing to the Saints involvement in a rearranged Scottish Cup tie.

Other matches had also been deferred owing to bad weather when the Cup ties were originally scheduled. Fortunately Albion’s match with Cowdenbeath was rescheduled so I could tick off another new ground.

After a smooth journey, the beauty of social media came to the fore as it transpired that Patrick Waterhouse and I would be in Glasgow at the same time. We enjoyed a couple of convivial beers in The Horse Shoe.

There was time for me to jump in a cab and enjoy a couple more in the fabulous Bon Accord; where the Partick supporting barman Craig was on hand for a natter. I took the train around the corner at Charing Cross, before changing at Queen Street onto a fast service north east.

Fortunately, I woke from a brief slumber to alight and then walk the twenty minutes to Forthbank Stadium. Admission was £13, with a basic programme another quid. Teamsheets were handed out free of charge.

The unmistakable aroma of the catering drifted through a door and I was soon enjoying a steak pie and Bovril for £4 up in the seats as I took in the stadium. Two seated stands faced each other across the pitch, while both ends had sections of open terracing.

It was neat and had a bit more character than several modern builds. Only the one stand was open for the match; with fans of ‘The Blue Brazil’ having a couple of blocks at the far end. The pitch looked in immaculate condition in the dipping temperatures.

The club song of ‘Beautiful Sunday’ was played with one fan miming along with his guitar while trying to get others to sing along. The teams came out and congregated for a minute’s applause for ‘Mr Stirling Albion’ Peter McKenzie who had recently passed away.

Cowdenbeath came into the game cut adrift at the bottom of the table and already looking like they would need to prevail in the play-offs to secure their Scottish League status for the second consecutive season. Albion were placed just outside the play-off positions.

It is fair to say that the match wasn’t a classic. Home keeper Cammy Binnie made a relatively easy save look spectacular from a shot from outside the box. Albion probably had slightly better quality, but little cutting edge. Cowdenbeath huffed and puffed throughout.

The only goal sunned the game up. Visiting goalie David McGurn parried out a corner, but the ball went straight against defender Jamie Pyper who inadvertently turned it in to his own net for an own goal ten minutes from the break.

Blair Malcolm tested Binnie on the stroke of half time before I went for a stretch. I’d already indulged in an extra Scotch pie and I couldn’t find access to the bar, so I just had a wander about and took some extra photos.

Brad Smith had the next attempt for Cowdenbeath, but Binnie tipped the ball over the bar in extravagant fashion. Feisty forward David Cox was trying his best to get the Blues back into the game, but he lacked pace. He was doing a fine job of upsetting referee Gavin Ross, who eventually showed him the yellow card.

I enjoyed the play of the visitors left back Harvey Swann, who contributed regularly, but it wasn’t going to be his sides night. Seven minutes from time Albion came close to doubling the lead when another corner caused more confusion.

Cox’s lack of pace denied him getting on the end of a fine probing Swann centre. Albion held on to take all three points and move into a play-off place. The visiting team players sank to their knees. They gave it their best, but they lacked quality and looked a poor outfit.

It was time for me to get a move on back to the station. Trains were replaced by buses owing to the electrification of the line between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It was good to jump on the warm bus out of the freezing conditions.

I started listening to the whining Manchester United and Chelsea fans ringing the phone in on TalkSport and awoke outside Queen Street station just forty five minutes later. A train took me on to Charing Cross and I was back in the Bon Accord at 10.50.

A very convivial few drinks and chat followed in a place that made me feel like a regular, despite my fleeting appearances. I took a sausage supper back to my tiny Easy Hotel room before heading back to London on the 8am train the following morning.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Dorking Wanderers

Dorking Wanderers FC is a non-league football club from the Surrey market town of Dorking; located around twenty miles south of London. Wanderers were formed in 1999 by founder members Marc White, Peter Buckland, Mark Lewington, Ian Davidson, Lee Spickett and Penny Gregg.

The club initially competed in the Crawley and District Football League, playing at Big Field Brockham. After just one season Wanderers moved to the West Sussex League; winning Division Four at the first attempt in 2000-01.

The Division Three title was secured in 2001-02; before a third place Division Two spot in 2002-03 was enough to secure promotion to the Premier Division.

Dorking Wanderers won West Sussex League's Premier Division in 2006-07 to gain promotion to Division Three of the Sussex County League, as the club moved to the Westhumble Playing Fields on London Road; before lifting the divisional title in 2010-11 to gain promotion to Division Two.

A third place finish at the first time of asking was enough to see the club elevated to Division One in 2011-12; but only after a successful appeal as the FA initially denied Wanderers promotion owing to ground grading issues.

This was an interesting time for senior football in the town of Dorking, as historical Dorking FC, who had been formed in 1880, had hit difficult times in Division One of the Combined Counties League with gates plummeting at an increasingly dilapidated Meadowbank.

Dorking FC were forced out of Meadowbank; to share with Horley Town in the summer of 2014, owing to health and safety issues at the ground.

The completion of the 2014-15 season saw Wanderers win promotion to Division One South of the Isthmian League after finishing as runners-up in Division One of the Sussex County League.

The meteoric rise at Wanderers continued under manager and chairman Marc White in the 2015-16 campaign, as the side reached the play-offs in the league; where they were defeated 2-1 by Faversham Town.

In March 2016 the Dorking Football Development Alliance was formed between Wanders and Dorking FC with an aim of both clubs benefitting from the move to the redeveloped Meadowbank when complete. Dorking FC moved into Wibbundune for the 2016-17 season.

Dorking FC announced that they would be disbanding at the end of the 2016-17 campaign to allow Wanderers to become the senior club in town and to give them the best chance of bringing a higher standard of football to Dorking.

To read the full story of Dorking FC and see photos of the old Meadowbank; please click here

Wanderers reached the Isthmian League Division One play-offs in 2016-17; defeating Hastings United on penalties and then Corinthian Casuals; again on spot kicks to secure a place in the Premier Division.

Meanwhile, the development of Meadowbank continued, with delays. It was announced that the Surrey FA would also be based at the new complex.

Dorking Wanderers FC will play in the Isthmian League Premier Division in the 2017-18 season.

My visits


Friday 30th December 2017

My good pal Steve Walker needed some provisions delivering out to Bangkok after the package had initially been returned. His mate, colleague and my mutual friend Mark Dunmall was over from Bangkok in his home town of Dorking.

As I was on nights, I took the opportunity to have a ride into deepest Surrey and to also grab a look and see how the redevelopment of Meadowbank was going on? I went there first while there was still some light.

It was certainly very much a work in progress, but at least it was ongoing; something the football supporting public of the town deserved. I had my doubts as to whether it would be ready for the commencement of the 2017-18 season.

It was good to see Mark; albeit briefly. I also got chance to have a brief look at the attractive little town centre, and promise myself an early arrival to try out some promising looking pubs before attending a match.

Little did I know at the time, but when I would get round to seeing a game at the revamped Meadowbank, Dorking FC would be no more and it would have to be for a Dorking Wanderers match. At least the situation appeared to be amicable.


Dorking Wanderers 0 Hendon 0 (Tuesday 19th December 2017) Isthmian League Premier Division (att: 184)

Our little gaggle of Hendon fans had a tremendous afternoon and post match celebration following the Greens FA Trophy victory against Bath City the previous Saturday. It was decided we should head to Dorking to cheer on the boys a few days later.

The line up was always going to be a bit of a guess, so it was good to turn up at Wetherspoons in Victoria station to find four pals in attendance. Neil, Dean, Steve Speller and Keith were all in good spirits.

The beer choice was a help as the chat was about the Trophy draw away to Sutton and should we have an extra beer and catch a later train. The beer was flowing as we watched our original choice; the 18.02 depart. while also chatting to a Chipstead fan who was on his way to watch his side at Enfield Town.

It was therefore a bit of a blow when we headed downstairs to find that our 18.20 service was delayed by fifteen minutes. This would mean we’d be cutting it fine for kick off at the other end.

However, some stations were missed out on route because of the delay and we arrived at Box Hill and Westhumble just before 19.30. Our fare was a bargain £6 return thanks to the discount from my Network railcard.

We certainly appeared to be in a pretty part of the world. Even in darkness, the way down to London Road was very nice, if a little precarious to negotiate at times. Even the main road was in semi-darkness. It was good to see the floodlights across the field.

The lane up to the Westhumble Sports Ground was also uneven and dark. It really did look a pleasant location; even without the views of Box Hill in the distance. Admission was £10 at the neat hut, with a very professionally produced programme costing a further couple of quid.

Wanderers had made the very best of an admittedly basic venue. There was no spectator access down one side, where just a fence and the benches separated the pitch from a second one behind.

The near end goal had hard and grass flat standing, a small modern covered metal terrace and the wooden changing room huts. Meshed fencing protected the players from spectators to the pitch. The far end goal had a strip of open flat grass and hard standing.

The main spectator facilities stood down the Railway Side, with the same open standing arrangements and then three covered structures, offering standing and seats, along with the refreshment hut and clubhouse.

Wanderers had certainly used timber as the main source of the ground. All fencing and many of the buildings were made of wood. I would imagine a local DIY superstore would have done very well out of the venue!

Hunger had kicked in, so I went for a cheeseburger for £4.20; which was OK, along with a cup of tea for £1. Steve selected a hot dog later in the game and said it was pretty good. Cans of beers were available for £3.

Hendon, playing in all navy blue, took the lead early in the game when the prolific Niko Muir slotted home a fine pass from Zak Joseph past Slovakian keeper Slavomir Huk who had rushed to the edge of his box.

It was good to see and have a quick chat with former Hendon legend Kevin Maclaren who was at the game supporting his old club and brother, Casey; who was captaining the team. He was as amiable and gentle as ever, despite having a rather different demeanour on the pitch.

Joseph was to be the provider once again on ten minutes as Hendon were running their hosts ragged. His cross was volleyed home at the back post by Michael Corcoran. A big away win looked a distinct possibility. Muir spurned an opportunity to make it 3-0 shortly after.

The Wanderers players and management were not slow in complaining to the referee about anything and everything. They looked to put pressure on the officials at every opportunity and became tiresome very quickly.

We’d been told that referee, Mr S Williams, was been assessed by an official in the crowd. Nothing created a more panicky performance from an official than been watched, in my experience over the years. And so it was to be once again.

I got chatting to a couple of friendly locals under the cover, who told me that the former fans of Dorking FC had been made most welcome and that Meadowbank was progressing and scheduled to be open with the local derby with Leatherhead a couple of months later.

A direct merger was decided against, as it was believed that a merged club would take on the league status of the lower of the ranked clubs. That would have meant that Wanderers achievements and remarkable rise would have gone to waste.

I also read later in the informative programme, that Westhumble would be downgraded once Meadowbank opened and return to being a sports ground with just minimal structures; as agreed with local residents when the club had to upgrade to meet FA stipulations.

Meanwhile, Hendon were still going great guns out on a firm pitch with a wet and slippery surface; which wasn’t the easiest at times to play on. Half chances were still being created; while the defence was doing a fine job in restricting the occasional Dorking attack.

Muir was once again set free. He went round Huk, but found himself at a narrow angle. He tried to lay the ball square, but the danger was snuffled out.

Substitutions to both starting eleven’s were made throughout the game. The same pattern to the match continued after the interval. Hendon were pretty much in control. The referee continued to frustrate. He’d handed out an early needless yellow card and made a rod for his own back.

Muir and Joseph continued to cause trouble for the Wanderers defenders; while Huk didn’t fill me with lots of confidence behind them. The home teams number four; David Ray, was having a particularly awkward evening.

Referee Williams upset the visiting team with half an hour to go. Dorking’s James McShane made a poor challenge when attack, which upset the Hendon players. Harley Wise was particularly upset. There was a brief melee, from which the official decided he should be given a straight red card.

It said something about the professionalism of Hendon’s performance that there was no notable difference to possession or the pattern of the game when they were a player short. Chances were still being created.

The quality attacking finally took its toll on the overworked Dorking defenders. Joseph made his way to the byline from the right wing. His fierce low cross was diverted into his own net by substitute Isaac Philpott.

Muir missed another guilt edged chance when put through. He was one on one with the keeper but put his shot wide of the far post. Joseph’s lob landed on the top of the net as the game came to a conclusion.

The three elder chaps in our party had missed the final chance. The game had kicked off late and the ref added five minutes injury time in the first half. It meant that we may struggle for the 22.02 train.

As it transpired, the service was five minutes late arriving. We were glad to get on board a quiet and warm train as we finished off the last of the Glenfiddich whisky from my hip flask; which had helped keep out the cold throughout the night.

We arrived back at Victoria just before 23.00 with many Arsenal fans waiting to board their trains south of the river after their League Cup tie with West Ham. I know who had the better evening, judging from the texts from my Hammers supporting friends.

Steve and I were back at Kingsbury before 23.45. I left my pal to head off for last orders, while I needed some shut eye before a 5.30 alarm call for work. It had been another top night supporting our local club.