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, June 20, 2011

St Patrick's Athletic (Ireland)

St Patrick's Athletic FC from Dublin in Ireland were formed in 1929, starting out life playing in Phoenix Park before moving to Richmond Park a year later.

'Saints' or 'St Pats' as the club are commonly known became one of the countries' major non league clubs. They became members of the League of Ireland in 1951, along with Cork side, Evergreen United. Success soon came to Richmond Park as they won the league title at the first attempt before adding another couple of championships in the 1950's.

The FAI Cup was lifted in 1959 and 1961 before a period of struggle followed for much of the 60's, 70's and 80's. One of the clubs' greatest players, Noel Campbell secured a move to Fortuna Koln where he was a success for eight seasons as well as collecting eleven full Republic of Ireland caps. Another shining light was a young Paul McGrath.

At the end of the 1988-89 season St Pats left Richmond Park so that redevelopment work could be carried out and decamped to Harold Cross Stadium. The following season Saints lifted their fourth league title. Unfortunately Brian Kerr's young team were gradually sold off as the club hit financial difficulties amongst takeover battles. In 1992 £82,000 was raised by local investors to save the club from extinction.

St Pats returned to a new look Richmond Park in 1993 and three years later were celebrating another league championship win. Kerr left to take up a coaching role with the FAI (he later managed the national team) to be replaced by Liam Buckley. Large crowds flocked to Inchicore to see St Pats lift two more titles in 1998 and 1999.

The following season St Pats drew 0-0 at Parkhead against Celtic in the Champions League before losing at Tolka Park in the second leg. However, their performance gave the game in the republic a huge boost.

In 2001 Saints nearly merged with St Francis FC which drew great anger from fans. St Francis folded before regrouping so the move was abandoned. Richmond Park was upgraded to meet the UEFA demands to stage home matches in  European competition, which St Pats often did.

In 2005 the FAI wanted Dublin clubs to share stadiums, so the idea of sharing with Shamrock Rovers new stadium at Tallaght was mooted. This was met with furious protests. Instead the club purchased the Richmond House Hotel (also known as McDowell's) to act as an official clubhouse.

In early 2007 the club was purchased by wealthy property magnate Garrett Kelleher who immediately employed Brian Kerr as the clubs Director of Football. In 2008 and 2009 St Pats won through two rounds of European competition. In 2010 St Pats lost the first ever Setanta Cup final against Bohemians at Tallaght.

Manager Pat Mahon was in charge as the club embarked on a successful 2011 Europa League campaign as Íþróttabandalag Vestmannaeyja of Iceland and Kazakhstan outfit Shakhter Karagandy were defeated before they went out to FC Karpaty Lviv of the Ukraine. Mahon's contract was not renewed for the 2012 season as former boss and player Liam Buckley took over the reigns.

Buckley also did well in the Europa League with his side defeating Íþróttabandalag Vestmannaeyja and then NK Široki Brijeg of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It took Bundesliga side Hannover 96 to end the run. Pats also reached the FAI Cup Final but were defeated after extra time by Derry City.

The disappointment didn't put off St Pats as they lifted the League of Ireland title in 2014 before going on to lift the FAI Cup in 2015 by virtue of a 2-0 victory against Derry City, while the league campaign ended in a fourth place spot.

St Patrick's Athletic FC will play in the League of Ireland Premier Division in the 2016 season.

My visit

Thursday 14th October 2010

I was in Dublin for a few days sightseeing, visiting stadiums and socialising and I'd just been out to Tallaght on the Luas (new tram network) to see the home of Shamrock Rovers.

I alighted at Drimnah on my return and walked towards Emmet Road and Richmond Park. At first I was concerned as the first gate I saw was all locked up. I walked along the road of terraced houses when I spotted that one was the offices of the club with an exit gate next to it. I saw a gent going inside so I asked if there was any chance of a look around.

I was made most welcome. I had my Scarborough Athletic shirt on, which brought some curious questions. Immediately someone spotted a link and mentioned Martin Russell who had been a St Pats player and was very popular at the club. I told them I'd just been with him down at Belfield!

I was taken through and shown inside the stadium to take my time taking pictures. I walked down the steps and looked back to the Main Stand which was built into a natural bank. It ran the full length of the pitch and was covered and seated. The far Inchicore End has the West or New Stand on it which is a bank of open seats. The far Carmac Terrace is open with a TV gantry on the half way line. The near Shed End, has as the name suggests a small shed over the terracing as well as open standing. It was a traditional football ground. Something I was missing more and more in England. It took me back to my youth!

I went back to the office and thanked everyone for their hospitality. I told them of my groundhopping plans for the following day and I was going to the Bohemians v Sligo FAI Cup semi final. They told me to cheer for Sligo. I gathered Bohs were definitely rivals of St Pats who were playing in the other semi against Shamrock.

I left the stadium and walked to Goldenbridge Luas stop ready to go back to my digs for a siesta. I needed some rest as Temple Bar was to be that evenings destination. That was very tiring!

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