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

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hillingdon Borough

The current Hillingdon Borough FC, from the borough to the north west of London were formed in 1990, but their connected history can be traced back to 1872.

Yiewsley FC began life in 1872 playing matches at Falling Lane. After years of local league football they became members of the newly formed Delphian League in 1951, before being promoted to the Corinthian League in 1954. In 1958 the club became semi professional and joined the Southern League. Newcastle United legend Jackie Milburn had a brief spell with Yiewsley before he retired.

In 1964 London was divided into local government and the Borough of Hillingdon was created. In line with this the club renamed itself as Hillingdon Borough FC. This led to an improvement on the pitch and by 1966 the club were competing in the Southern League Premier Division. 

In 1969 they were runners up to Cambridge United, who were promoted to the Football League. In 1970 they reached the third round of the FA Cup after defeating Wimbledon and Luton Town, before going down 4-1 to Sutton United. 

The following season Boro reached Wembley in the final of the FA Trophy as they went down 3-2 to Telford United after being two goals up at the interval. Former Fulham and England full back Jimmy Langley was in charge of the team.

In 1973-74 Hillingdon were relegated to the Southern League Division One South, before regaining their Premier Division spot at the first attempt. In 1980 the club were placed in the Southern Division of the league after it was re-organised.

A spell of dwindling crowds and poor management troubled the club. They changed their name to Hillingdon FC in 1984 and sold their Falling Lane Stadium around the same time. The following year they merged with Burnham FC, who were based around ten miles westerly to form Burnham & Hillingdon FC. This arrangement lasted for just two years before the club became Burnham FC and Hillingdon disappeared temporarily from football.

A club called Bromley Park Rangers FC had taken over at a ground called Middlesex Stadium on Breakspear Road in Ruislip from Ruislip FC who had disappeared after a spell in the Southern League. After a short spell as Ruislip Rangers they changed their name to Hillingdon Borough in 1990.

The club became members of the Spartan South Midlands League and progressed steadily. In 2006 Boro reached the FA Vase Final in 2006 in a game they lost 3-1 to Nantwich Town at St Andrews, Birmingham. Owing to the re-organisation of non league football the club were placed in the Southern League Division One South & West before being transferred into Division One North in 2009.

Boro struggled and were relegated back to the Spartan South Midlands League in 2009, which led to a period of instability. Chairman Gamdoor Dhaliwal resigned which pushed the club to the brink of liquidation.

Local businessman Mick Harris stepped in to save the club, while managers Gary Meakin, Jesse Smith and then Sam Hurrell struggled. Boro were relegated at the conclusion of the 2014-15 campaign, with former Harefield United boss Ian Crane being appointed to try and put things right.

Hillingdon Borough FC will compete in the Spartan South Midlands League Division One for the 2015-16 season.

My visits

Wednesday 6th April 2005

I was out and about in North West London and Middlesex on a days groundhop and caught a bus to the Middlesex Stadium. It was a ground still in transition.

The Main Stand was unusually perched on top of several rows of terracing behind a goal. Further investigation revealed that it was once on the half way line, but the ground had been turned ninety degrees since. A clubhouse and changing rooms stood on top of a shallow grass bank in the corner near the entrance. Apart from hard standing around the pitch there was nothing but open grassed areas.

Autumn 2007

I was passing the area once again with my new digital camera and wanted some better snaps of the ground so I popped in once again. It had signs of development. The area in front of the buildings was being prepared with a few wide steps of terracing and barriers. A new artificial pitch was behind the far goal to increase revenue streams as well as offering training facilities. A cover had also been erected at this end of the ground behind the goal.

It certainly had potential should the club ever need a better venue and they progressed on the pitch.

Hillingdon Borough 3 Biggleswade United 1 (Saturday 27th August 2011) Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division (att: 32)

I was on early shift and my colleague Rob Burton kindly took me off forty minutes early so I could get a game in. After much deliberation I opted for the clash at Middlesex Stadium owing to its relatively easy location.

After changing trains at a packed Wembley Park, which was full of imbibed northerners arriving for the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final between Wigan and Leeds, I caught a Metropolitan line train to Ruislip. My timing was spot on as the bus 331 was ready to depart within a few minutes. This dropped me right outside the ground.

I paid my £6 admission plus £1 for a decent programme and was told to make myself known to a man on the decking who was watching out for non payers coming through the clubhouse and into the ground. I entered into an extremely noisy and bright sports bar. It was one of those rooms that made any voice seem loud.  

It was full of testosterone filled young blokes who's just finished their game on the 3G pitch, and as a consequence I could hardly hear myself think. It was obviously designed to bring in extra revenue throughout the week for bookings. It had plenty of football memorabilia on the walls, but absolutely nothing to signify that either Boro or Broadfields United of the Middlesex League played their home games there.

I went outside to find it hammering it down, not for the first time during the afternoon. It soon abated, so I went for a walk around as the teams came out.

The stadium certainly had real potential. Some old goalposts had been utilised as crush barriers on the terracing leading down from the covered decking in front of the clubhouse. The cover at the far end had all kinds of odds and ends stored at the back. Much of the hard standing had moss growing on it. It looked a little untidy if truth be told, which was a shame. 

I appreciate that the attendances probably don't justify major investment (although the official crowd was 32, I made it nearer 20), but a tidy up would do the place a power of good, and maybe even encourage one or two new fans - as would some kind of acknowledgement in the bar.

The pitch was lush and very large, with plenty of more turf between the touchlines and the fence. Both sides tried to use the full width of the playing area, and produced some skilful stuff. I walked around and had a listen to the two benches, which always offers some entertainment. 

The United boss was giving his charges some fierce feedback for allowing someone to make a thirty yard run unchallenged! I settled in the seats at the Crematorium End and listened in to other scores coming in from around the country as another shower came down.

Biggleswade went ahead when a free kick put into the danger area deceived everyone and sneaked into the corner. Boro had at least three players who filled their shirts to the limit, with the number nine being a bit slow, but extremely skllful. He was at the hub of a move that created the equaliser as a cross was headed into his own net by a visiting defender.

I retreated to the bar at half time, where a lady served teas at the far end of the counter. The lads were still inside, but much of their noise had abated as they watched a feed of the Chelsea v Norwich game and a half time round up in Italian hosted by a young lady who certainly brightened up my day!

I returned to my seat suitably refreshed and before long a storm of biblical proportions hit the ground. Play continued but it looked extremely hard work. It continued for about fifteen minutes and left some standing water on the pitch, which naturally led to errors. Ideal stuff for a neutral, but a nightmare for the committed. Sure enough the United keeper tried to throw the ball to a teammate, only for it not to reach its target and a grateful Boro player slot home.

United tried their utmost to get back into the match, but Boro had worn them down, despite kicking up the slope in the second period. A long range shot from the 'big' man up front ended the scoring with the ref blowing for full time a few minutes later.

I had to wait five minutes for the bus back to Ruislip from outside The Woodman. The journey to the station took less than ten minutes. I was on my way back into London and I received the miraculous news that all three of my cricket clubs sides had completed their games with excellent results, while all our rivals were rained off. A good night ensued, while my mates shook their heads as I told them of my afternoon's adventures.

They didn't know what they were missing!

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