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

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Barking

 

Barking FC is a non league club, based nine miles north east from the centre of London. The club were formed in 1865 and were originally called Barking Woodville FC when they were founder members of the London League.

Another club, Barking Rovers were also around at that time and it is believed that they played a part in the current clubs history.


In 1912 'The Blues' became founder members of the Athenian League. Between 1919 and 1932 the club were known as Barking Town. The club played at the Vicarage Field, in the centre of the town. 

The semi final stage of the FA Amateur Cup was reached in 1921-22 before going out at the last four stage to South Bank at Feethams in Darlington.

1927 saw the club reach the final of the Amateur Cup following victories over Maidenhead United, Wycombe Wanderers and South Bank at Bishop Auckland before going down to Leyton 3-1 at The Den.


In the 1949-50 season, another fine Amateur Cup run saw Barking go all the way to the semi-final, where they were defeated 2-1 by Willington at Ayresome Park Middlesbrough.

In 1951 Barking moved into the Isthmian League where it did nothing exceptional of note for many years. In 1973 the club were forced to leave their Vicarage Field home and were given a lease at Mayesbrook Park.

A downloaded image of Vicarage Field
Success was to come in the 1978-79 season under a manager with much non league success at different clubs in the area, Eddie McCluskey. He led the team to the title and a run to the second round of the FA Cup before going out to Aldershot. These achievements saw Barking being given the 'Non League Team of the Year' award.


The second round of the FA Cup was also reached in 1979-80 when Reading knocked them out after a first round victory over Oxford United, and again in 1981-82 when Gillingham required a replay to progress following earlier victories over Maidstone United and Bideford.


The team gradually broke up and within ten years The Blues were relegated. In 2001 the club merged with East Ham United to become Barking & East Ham United. After restructuring the club spent a couple of seasons in the Southern League from 2004.

In 2006 Barking suffered from the tragic death of chairman Peter Webster, which led to the liquidation of the parent company. The club restructured as Barking FC and were placed in the Essex Senior League.


After a few seasons finishing around mid table, the Blues attained a third place finish in 2014-15, and then fourth the following campaign.

Barking FC will play in the Essex Senior League in the 2016-17 season.


My visits

May 1999

I had just moved down to London to live and was lodging with my brother Paul in Camberwell. I was job searching and one Friday early evening I decided to use my travelcard and have a wander. I had been to try and get into The Manorway home of East Ham United without success, much to my regret as the club folded with the ground demolished and eaten up by new houses not long after.

I took a busy bus up past Upton Park where West Ham United were playing in the FA Youth Cup Final and caught a tube to Upney, from where I walked through Becontree Park to the ground. It was locked up but the clubhouse looked busy enough. Because of the relatively low fences I could peek inside the ground.



Wednesday 26th September 2007

Barking were the first club I visited on a mammoth groundhop day which saw me visit twelve grounds. I caught the tube to Barking and then took a bus to the end of Lodge Avenue before walking the rest.

Once again the ground was locked, but I managed to take the daytime photos on this page. The clubhouse looked all locked up as if it wasn't due to open and I saw notices on walls saying the club had been liquidated. I honestly thought I'd never get the opportunity to visit for a game.

Barking 4 Basildon United 0 (Tuesday 4th January 2011) Essex Senior League (att: 44)



I had a few choices of matches the evening after finishing night shifts. I plumped for this clash as it gave me a good chance of getting home and not missing much of the play in the Test Match from Sydney.

Barking caught me out in terms of distance and I soon realised I'd be struggling for a beer before kick off. The bus collected me from the tube station, but unfortunately I got off about four stops too early. I walked at least a mile to the ground. I think someone was trying to send me a message as when I got to the ground the clubhouse was all locked up.


I paid £5 admission, plus £1.50 for a programme. It was the same issue from when the game was meant to take place on the 27th November before it fell foul to the weather with a four page update inside. I was immediately impressed after the gateman told me to enjoy the game. A nice simple touch, but one lacking at so many other grounds.

I followed the signs to the refreshments. It doubled up with the boardroom in a hut by the corner flag. I went inside for a lucozade.


I was quite taken with the ground. At the Lodge Avenue End there was the entrance and disused clubhouse. There was then a few steps of very shallow terracing with a roof behind the goal. The players emerged through a gap in the steps. To the right was open concrete and grass standing where viewing was difficult owing to the huge dugouts. The far end was a narrow flat path and the fourth side had a low narrow stand with a seating section at one end. A few steps of terracing finished off that side.

The home team went one up after a few minutes and played some scintillating football. It was pleasing to see both sides keep it on the deck. The Basildon keeper was a veteran and a real character who encouraged his young team mates while pulling off some good saves. He couldn't do much as a second goal went in at half time.

The one thing I wasn't keen on was the amount of gratuitous foul language being used by all the players as well as unnecessary feedback to the linesmen. Still, if they see international players get away with it.....


At half time I got chatting to a local who primarily went to watch Charlton Athletic and Thurrock but also enjoyed his Essex League games. He told me he was under the impression that the clubhouse was closed because it had asbestos in it so it was closed for health and safety reasons. Like me he was very impressed with the display Barking were putting on.

They went three up soon after the break but to their credit the visitors never stopped trying. I had a quick walk around to get the circulation going again on a very cold night. I was certainly glad I had my thermals on.


As I got near the dugouts, the game had a very debatable incident. A Barking forward looked like he may have been fouled but he continued and had his shot saved. The linesman flagged for a corner. He was in the best position. 

However the referee decided it was a definite foul so he gave a penalty and sent off the distraught defender. The Basildon bench went berserk. One of their players summed it up pretty well. He said to the linesman, "I know we haven't turned up, but there's no need for decisions like that."


I couldn't see the common sense in it. The game was over as a contest and it was by no means a deliberate offence. The player would be £20 out of pocket and be banned for matches. It was yet another case of referees following the letter of the law and knowing all the regulations but not the game. It put a bit of a downer on an excellent game.

I headed back towards the exit. The dismissed defender was stood in the players entrance pleading his innocence to anyone who'd listen. I really felt for the lad.


The game finished four nil. Barking fully deserved their victory. I was most surprised when I read the programme on the way home and found they were only in the middle of the table.

All in all I really enjoyed the game apart from one incident and would recommend a visit to anyone.

Barking 6 Haringey & Waltham Development 1 (Friday 7th October 2016), Essex Senior League, (att: 41)


A late change in the league fixtures meant that this game was brought forward to the Friday night, which suited my work pattern perfectly. I had a good walk through the city for some exercise and took a train from Fenchurch Street to Barking before the bus to Lodge Avenue.

Admission was £6. A reduced four page programme, owing to late arrangement of the game, a further 50p and a warming cup of tea £1. I’d forgotten what a pleasant venue Mayesbrook Park was. The pitch was certainly lush.


It was soon apparent that Barking would win the game if they kept their heads in front of goal. Their midfielder Timi Abiola certainly looked the business with his pace and guile until he was forced off with injury after just ten minutes. James Peagram looked a talented forward and he put his side 1-0 up on fifteen minutes.

However, Peagram like far too many on show in this game, and the Essex Senior League in general do far too much whining, moaning at referees and look to intimidate opponents. It's a long ride from NW9 to Barking on public transport. If I'd have wanted to watch & listen to a load of Mockneys arguing, swearing and trying to act hard I could have stayed in and watched Eastenders.


I pondered whether there was a more undisciplined competition than the Essex Senior League. It had been the same at Wadham Lodge v Barkingside a couple of weeks ago. It was a shame as there were some decent players on show, and I'd experienced plenty of good football with the clubs being run by hard working and friendly officials.

The Blues went two up on seventeen minutes when Joseph Pearman finished. A father and son had come to support their boy in the Haringey & Waltham net. He tried his best but faced a uphill task for the club preciously known as Mauritius Sports & Pennant and then Greenhouse London.


His side, much like the Burnham team I saw the following day, needed a bit of steel, hard work and experience. It's was all very well playing attractive attacking football at times but it's no use once the ball is lost with a defence who could be best politely described as porous.

That said, the visitors did get back into the game with a fine move resulted in  Jordan Jackson netting after looking suspiciously offside, as a fella in front of me tried to explain the offside rule to his girlfriend. This raised the volume of abuse towards the officials who had just previously chalked of a Barking goal.


Abiola’s replacement Omari Delgado opened up the two goal gap once more six minutes after the interval. Haringey & Waltham held the marauding attackers at bay for some time thanks to poor finishing, greedy play and plenty of luck before the sulky Pearman made it 4-1 with a little under twenty minutes remaining.

It was left to Delgado to round things off as a scored a couple of late goals, including one with a cheeky dink, to complete his hat trick and to secure a 6-1 win for the clear league leaders. The scoreline was just about a fair reflection on the game.


For a change, I took the 368 bus back to Barking from opposite the ground. It did not turn out to be my best ever plan as it stopped everywhere taking quite a long time. Fortunately a fast train was just arriving to get me back into the city.


I made my local Wetherspoons in Kingsbury in time for a few excellent nightcaps. The fact that Doombar was reduced to £1.49 says everything about the mass produced bilge that was once a very nice beer when brewed in Cornwall.








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