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, February 14, 2011

Colchester United

Colchester United FC from North Essex were formed in 1937 out of the ashes of the previous club, Colchester Town. 'The Oystermen' as they were called were formed in 1867 played latterly in the Southern League before they were dissolved.

The club had moved into Layer Road in 1909 when it was originally owned by the army. Just before Town folded, United were set up. In 1948 as a Southern League club 'The U's' managed to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup defeating Banbury Spencer, Wrexham, Huddersfield Town and Bradford Park Avenue before going out to Blackpool.

United were admitted into the Football League in 1950 and spent the next forty years in the bottom two divisions. They did however have two major highlights 1971.

In the FA Cup Fifth Round The U's defeated the might of Leeds United at Layer Road before the TV cameras. The following pre season they qualified to play in the Watney Cup. This was for the top two goalscorers from each division in the pre season who weren't promoted or playing in Europe. United got to the final against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns and won 4-3 on penalties after the game ended 4-4.

To see the famous Leeds United victory, go to:


Financial worries hit the club in the late 1980's and in 1990 they suffered relegation to the Conference. In 1992 they returned to the Football League under the player management of Roy McDonough when they won the non league double of the Conference and FA Trophy.

In 2006 after gradual improvement, Colchester were promoted into the second tier of the League for the first time in their history. Their adventure lasted just two seasons.

After eight years of planning United moved to Cuckoo Farm in 2008 and the brand new Colchester Community Stadium which entered into a ten year sponsorship deal with Weston Homes. Paul Lambert was doing a fine job as manager before being tempted away by Norwich City. He was replaced by Aidy Boothroyd and then John Ward. Unfortunately the team didn't progress as expected so Ward departed with former player Joe Dunne taking over.

Colchester United FC will play in Football League One in season 2013-14.

My visits

Colchester United 1 Scarborough 3 (Monday 31st August 1987) Division Four (att: 1,525)

It was August Bank Holiday and I was out on the Sunday night enjoying plenty of drinks knowing I had the next day off. I was with some mates when a Hull City and occasional Boro supporting pal Nick Groombridge mentioned he was going to Colchester the next day followed at night by Swindon Town against Hull City. My ears pricked up immediately and I wanted to know more.

I was introduced to Mick Young who would be driving his works car. He said it was OK for me to go as well as a mate of his Jon Dyer who was universally known as Doomie who went to watch Boro and Sunderland. The thing that bothered me about the expedition was that Colchester were only admitting home fans after suffering from hooligans from away in the past. Despite this, we said we'd give it a go.

The car wasn't exactly full of energy the next morning and I remember it being a long journey through a lot of picturesque villages once we'd left the motorway. We were outside the ground before 2pm which was all part of our strategy. We saw the team coach driver, a nice bloke called Ron Arnell and asked him if there was any chance of getting us any tickets from the players.

He already had an allocation on him and he kindly handed four over to us for nothing for the Main Stand. We were told we had to be discreet. This was fine as the game was pretty even without any controversial incidents, plus none of us had been drinking!

In the second half Boro got control and went ahead. We realised we weren't the only Seadogs there and we raised a small cheer. When the third went in we were out of our seats and fully celebrating as were the others including a few stood on their own behind the goal.

Layer Road was as compact ground as I'd ever been in at Football League level. The Main Stand was in three sections, with two seated and the third at The Layer Road End with terracing. That end of the ground had the only access in and out and comprised of a few steps of wooden terrace which was apparently built by German Prisoners of War. The far side had a cover in the centre section of terracing with open standing either side. The final end had an undulating open terrace.

We enjoyed the game. It was certainly one for bragging rights back home as we shouldn't have been there. We went on our way and somehow got to Swindon in time for kick off that evening!

Colchester United 2 AFC Bournemouth 1 (Friday 14th January 2011) League One (att: 3,445)

I had been meaning to go to the new stadium on quite a few occasions but never got round to it. With me been on early shift at work this gave me an ideal opportunity.

I took a brief nap after work and headed down to Liverpool Street to catch a fast train with Colchester the first stop. I had done my homework beforehand so I knew there was a shuttle bus service to the ground from near the station. There was a pub nearby, but I decided to make sure I got there in plenty of time.

The shuttle was excellent value for £1.50 return and was subsidised by the U's chairman. As well as the service from the railway station, buses also call at three pubs around the city before and after games.

The area around the stadium was still growing but was pleasant enough. I bought a ticket for the end block of the main West Stand and went inside to take photos and take refreshments. I wasn't in the mood for beer but warmed up with a cuppa while looking at the nice photos depicting moments from the clubs history which brightened up the brick walls. The concourse wasn't huge but had all the usual facilities; bookies, bar, refreshments TVs showing Sky Sports News.

I went for my seat which offered a good view. All four stands were separate builds with the West Stand being slightly taller and containing corporate facilities at the rear. The noisiest U's fans were to my right in the South Stand. The North Stand was left empty with the visiting fans been given a few blocks in the East Stand instead. I would guess there was about 300 of them, which wasn't bad for a Friday night game being shown live on Sky.

It was to be quite an emotional night for 'The Cherries' as their young boss Eddie Howe was to move to a bigger job at Burnley after the game. He had worked wonders with no money on the south coast and his team were in the play off places before the game, with The U's a few places outside.

I had been tempted to have a daft bet at evens on the game being all square at half time. I didn't bother and sure enough it ended nil nil. I warmed up with a bovril before seeing a mascots race featuring some very strange local creations from local businesses and attractions. It made the kids happy anyway!

AFCB made a change at half time replacing one veteran, Lee Bradbury with another, the club legend Steve Fletcher who headed them ahead after fifty three minutes. The players all ran over to celebrate for one last time with manager Howe.

Col U, as the locals call them, tried to get back into it but didn't make any headway until boss John Ward made a double substitution. One of the new players, Steven Gillespie immediately looked quality to me. He made things happen instantly and it was no surprise when he rounded off a fine move. Ten minutes later he lobbed home what proved to be the winner.

I left for the bus a couple of minutes from the end. On board an old fan had the live commentary on his radio and he gave us all a commentary of what was happening. There was a nice  feeling of a community spirit amongst the fans. Then some younger fans got on to tell anyone who'd listen that Gillespie was still a waste of money, only in far fewer words much to the bemusement of everyone else.

The service dropped me back at Bruff Close and I was soon awaiting the train back to London, to get me back at my place for 11.40pm.

The pictures of Layer Road have been taken from the internet.

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