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

Cambridge City




Cambridge City FC were formed in 1908 as Cambridge Town FC. They played in the Southern Amateur League before being invited to join the Football League in 1936 to spread the game in East Anglia. City decided they wanted withhold their amateur nature so they turned it down, with Ipswich Town stepping up instead. They had moved into the City Ground on Milton Road in 1922.






After the Second World War the club spent a few seasons in the Spartan League before joining the Athenian League in 1950. Cambridge was granted city status in 1951 so 'The Lilywhites' and their neighbours Abbey United both applied to change their name to Cambridge City. Town got the nod as their application was received first, while Abbey became Cambridge United.

In 1958 the club left its amateur status to join the Southern League. They were the city's prominent club and up to 1974 they made five applications to join the Football League. In the late 1950's and 60's City attracted some of non leagues largest crowds as they went on to lift the league title in 1963.

In 1970 United were elected into the Football League while City weren't as successful as before which led to dwindling crowds. When United had a spell in the League's second tier City's crowds dipped to below two hundred.






City spent several years in the second tier of the Southern League in its different guises until they returned to the Premier Division in 1986. After many seasons of moderate returns the club were founder members of the Conference South in 2004. United were relegated in 2005 meaning the clubs were just one division apart.

However City hit financial problems. and the club's City Ground was sold to an Isle of Man company called Ross River, which was linked to Brian York, a man who had briefly been a director of the club. The then board announced that it was to scrap the first team and make the reserve team into a feeder for Cambridge United. At that point a Supporters Trust was formed and within weeks they had control of the club.

They took River Ross to court and it was found that the club were victims of fraud and bribery. The former Chief Executive was found to have taken a £10,000 bung. Unfortunately the deal was not overturned. however they were given permission to stay at Milton Road until 2010 and would receive 50% of any development profits from the deal.

In May 2008 City were demoted to the Southern League because The City Ground failed to meet requirements. The club had agreed to a three year groundshare at Newmarket Town FC for three years while looking for somewhere nearer the city of Cambridge. They were given an extra year reprieve at Milton Road at the last minute.

However, the club eventually moved at the end of the 2012-13 season as the decamped to Bridge Road with Histon FC.

Cambridge City FC will play in the Southern League Premier Division in the 2013-14 season.


My visit

Cambridge City 0 Windsor & Eton 0 (Tuesday 9th November 2010) Southern League Premier Division (att: 218)





I was resting after night shift and mulling over several options. In the end the thought that it may have been a last chance to see a game at Milton Road made my mind up. I caught the fast train from Kings Cross and within an hour I was aboard a bus towards the ground.

This wasn't my actual first visit to the ground as I'd had a look in March 1985 when in the city with my mates to watch Hull City play at United. It was in a bit of a mess as it was being transformed. Before it was changed it held up to 22,000 and from the late 60's it held greyhound racing.






I got off at the correct stop but couldn't see a way to the entrance despite seeing the glare of the floodlights in the night sky. I wandered around to no avail and nearly got sidetracked into an appealing looking pub before asking advice from a taxi driver.

The ground was round the back of a modern looking administration clock, which was part of the old stadium before the land was sold. I was soon in the car park and heading for the clubhouse. This was located under the Main Stand and was relatively basic and quiet. It wasn't in keeping with the beauty of the rest of the city which I regrettably didn't have time to look around. It did however have some great framed pictures of the clubs past including a youthful Neil Harris before he moved to Millwall.

I wasn't expecting a very big crowd as United were at home on the same evening to Grimsby Town. When I spoke to my brother Nick on the phone I had told him I was in Cambridge and going to watch the battle of two stunning cities. I think he was being ironic when he said that Grimsby isn't very nice, or words to that effect.
 




I paid a tenner and entered the ground and had a look around. I really liked it, especially as it belied the fact that it was relatively modern, unlike some flatpack stadiums of today.

There was an elevated Main Stand with some standing in front. A newer addition had been added at the far end of it. It was flat narrow standing behind both goals with high wire net fencing to keep the balls in the stadium. The far side was made up of some terracing in the centre with a cover in three parts over it. A grass bank and housing stood behind that side.

City were flying high in the division with Windsor near the play off spots. They were another club in financial strife and the word was that they could fold within weeks. I predicted a home win on my fixed odds coupon.

I had a wander and some grub from the portable caravan providing catering before sitting in the stand extension. It had not been very well designed with many sets having restricted views. All the corporate boxes at the rear lay dormant.

The game was scoreless at half time with not too many chances at the interval when I sought sanctuary back in the bar for a medicinal wee dram!t was encouraging to see quite a few youths in attendance and patronising the clubhouse as well as trying their best to create some noise in the shed on the far side.

I took a position on the far side for the second half stood near the Windsor bench. They offered great entertainment and plenty of humour as their side slowly got on top. City missed a few chances but didn't have as much of the play. A visitors goal wouldn't have shocked me.




The game finished blank with a little animosity as the visitors keeper Delroy Preddie, who had starred for Yeading in their FA Cup run a few years previously, had a tiff with a City forward and they needed to be separated at full time.

I caught the bus back to the station which was tantalisingly just too late to sneak in a pint but necessitated standing on a cold platform. The train back had plenty of United fans who seemed pretty fed up with their draw. They can only imagine how veteran City fans feel!





Cambridge City 1 Scarborough Athletic 2 (Wednesday November 6th 2013) FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round Replay (att: 227)



After City had played out a goalless draw the previous Saturday at Queensgate against my beloved Scarborough Athletic, I had to make some major changes to my planning. I was due to travel to Scarborough on the Tuesday morning after night shift to attend the home game against Brigg Town. Instead I made arrangements for my Dad to come to me for a few nights and attend the replay. My brother Paul also confirmed that he wanted to go with us, so I got on and booked the train tickets.












It had been a wet and grey day in London, which saw Dad and I go and visit the RAF Museum at Hendon before a rest and then catching the tube down to Kings Cross to meet Paul. Our express train had us arriving into Cambridge in just over an hour, and we were happy that the rain had stopped when we got there.

I had already worked out how to get to City’s temporary home at Histon, but Dave Cammish also confirmed he was going to the game with his son Ashley, and they would try to pick us up on the way. We enjoyed a tremendous meal at The Regal, a magnificent Wetherspoons pub that had once been a cinema. The addition of ‘Chicken Night’ proved a winner!











Dave proved to be an absolute hero as he negotiated the one way system to pick us up outside the pub, before my IPhone map app once again proved invaluable. We got to Bridge Road and into the car park with a good half hour to spare. Admission was a tenner, while the programme cost £2. The bar upstairs in the Main Stand was been patronised by the loyal Boro following, which numbered around fifty.

There was some surprise with the Seadogs starting line up. They had been playing with three up front, but manager Rudy Funk elected to utilise Gary Bradshaw on his own, and use five in midfield. We took our place behind the goal for the first period.

Boro played a high line at the back, which was catching City offside several times. When they did get in sight of the visiting goal, the shots and headers were woefully off target. Chances were sparse at the other end, but the formation was working in what was gradually becoming a masterly away performance. I commented after fifteen minutes that we’d win 1-0.











Gradually Boro imposed themselves going forward and caused the clumsy centre backs some moments of panic. I chose my moment to visit the loo to perfection, as I came out just as Boro pressed forward as right back Matty Plummer somehow found himself in the left wing position to rifle home from the edge of the box.

Boro were extremely unlucky not to double their lead before the break as they dominated the final few minutes. The tactics were working to perfection, and it was a very optimistic clubhouse at the interval.

Soon after the restart City fans howled for Andy Milne to be shown a red card after the referee adjudged that he handled the ball on the edge of the area. Mr Evans only cautioned him. In sharp contrast,  there were loud cheers at our end shortly after when Bryan Hughes scored with a brilliant forty yard shot judging the wind perfectly as the ball looped over home keeper Zac Barrett.











However, City were soon handed a chance to get back into the game. Joe Cracknell in the Boro goal collided with Adam Marriott as he was going away from goal, with referee Evans pointing to the spot. It seemed a soft decision, and definitely one meriting the sending off the City fans once again bayed for. Cracknell was booked before keeping out Marriott’s penalty kick before the taker put the rebound wide.

Within a couple of minutes Evans gave a second penalty, which was apparently for handball. The Boro players complained vehemently to no avail. This time Marriott scored.



Every single Boro player dug deep, including several who were carrying knocks. Cambridge went forward looking for the equaliser, but Boro broke well and always looked like they could extend the lead. Ryan Williams was especially unlucky with an effort that was deflected wide.

In the final seconds Cracknell pulled off a wonder save from a Lee Chaffney header in what would prove to be his last game on loan for the club. Shortly afterwards, the ref blew his whistle to end a heroic performance. We waited by the tunnel to cheer the boys in.

The mood in the car was jubilant as we listened to other scores coming in. Ashley had really enjoyed his evening out, which was definitely promising for the future. Dave drove like a legend down the M11 and got us to Bishops Stortford station for us to catch a fast train back to London.

To round off a tremendous day, Dad and I got back for the last forty minutes in the local Wetherspoons near my to flat.

For a description of City's temporary home please visit the Histon page at:


















No comments:

Post a Comment