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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Waltham Abbey




Waltham Abbey FC, who were formed in 1944, are a non league club who come from the picturesque market town of the same name around fifteen miles north of London. When the club was formed, the team consisted of former players from Tottenham Hotspur juniors and Waltham Abbey Youth Club, who had used the Capershotts group during World War Two.



The Abbey church in the pretty town centre


The side reached a decent level in local football and reached three Herts Junior Cup finals. Waltham Abbey United emerged in the late 60s as a new clubhouse was built at Capershotts. In 1974 the club merged with Beechfield Sports before dropping their name from their title in 1976 as 'The Abbotts' gained senior status and reached the premier division of the Essex Intermediate League within a year.














Floodlights were installed in 1990 and the pitch was levelled as Abbey moved across to the Essex and Herts Border Combination in 2001 to allow them to progress up the non league pyramid. They were elected to the Essex Senior League a year later. Abbey finished the 2004-5 season in third place as well as lifting the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy and the League Cup.

The club were promoted to the Isthmian League Division One North in 2006 and went on to reach the Premier Division in 2009 after a thrilling play off victory over Concord Rangers. Their stay lasted just one season before being relegated.


Waltham Abbey FC will compete in the Isthmian League Division One North in the 2013-14 season.





 











My visits


Friday 11th January 2008


I had been home for a few days at Christmas and my team Scarborough Athletic had run a draw. Two of the prize winners lived in North East London, so I helped out on saving cash for the club by volunteering to hand deliver the prizes. This also gave me an opportunity to take in a couple of grounds and take photos.


After calling in at Cheshunt FC I took the long walk to Waltham Abbey. It was much further than I anticipated, but it kept me fit!














The ground was locked but there was plenty of scope to take photos, some from the adjoining sloping cemetery. The changing rooms were behind the goal at the Sewardstone Road End with some additional cover and a few rows of terracing. A seated stand was on the far side, nearest to the M25 fully kitted out with sky blue tip up seats with formerly saw service at Maine Road, Manchester. The rest of the ground was open to the elements consisting of grass and hard standing. The clubhouse was outside the ground across the car park.


I wandered off and used my common sense and took a bus to Waltham Cross and a further one to Enfield to drop off the prizes.

Waltham Abbey 1 Heybridge Swifts 2 (Monday 29th August 2011) Isthmian League Division One North (att: 101)

I had an early finish at work so I gave the Non League Paper some serious attention in choosing my game. After plenty of research of travelling times and availability, I decided on choosing Waltham Abbey as I want to eventually see games at the grounds I'd visited for photos and it looked a tricky journey for a midweek game, when I mainly go to games as a neutral.





 









I took the tube after work across to Liverpool Street where I had a time to wait before my train to Waltham Cross. I was cheered after ringing my Dad to hear he was going to the Scarborough Athletic v Long Eaton United game. I fancied our boys to win and I wanted my Dad to see the new look side. I was at my destination at just gone 2pm.

I was armed with a list of buses that ran to Waltham Abbey from the station. The stop was out of service, but advised customers to take the short walk to the bus station. I was frustrated on arrival to find only one of the five possible services ran on Bank Holidays. I saw an old boy waiting and he told me a bus was due. I checked the timetable for confirmation. The next bus was leaving in twenty minutes, which he confirmed. I get too used to the regular London services. I reckoned I could walk to Waltham Abbey quicker than the bus, so I set off.




 









Sure enough I was in the town centre in twenty minutes and I hadn't seen any buses. The walk was pleasant enough, taking me past the Olympic canoeing venue, the Lea canal and into the county of Essex from Hertfordshire. Capershotts was a further ten minutes down Sewardstone Road.

The first signs were promising as the car park looked fairly busy. I paid my £8 plus £2 for a programme and went inside. Immediately the main differences between most grounds at steps four and five became apparent. There was music playing pre match and an audible PA system and the ground had good catering. I settled with a burger and a tea, which I must say were first class as was the friendly service, in the cover behind the goal. It had a few wooden slats bolted onto the top step so it was comfortable to sit down.

The ground was pretty similar to my previous visit but an additional cover had been added further up the side from the seated stand. It was a basic construction with the stanchions being scaffolding poles but it added extra welcome cover no doubt needed when The Abbotts had a spell in the premier division.



 










Someone at Abbey obviously had a sense of humour as the teams came out to the music normally associated with a circus. It made me smile. A visiting Swifts fan soon used it as ammo when berating the referee over a debatable decision.

I went for a walk around the ground as I watched a competitive game with both sides threatening without having any real efforts on goal. Heybridge took the lead through a mix up in the Abbey rearguard before I settled behind the goal and had a chat with a local as an amazing long range shot put the visitors two up. It was agreed it was a little generous for Swifts to be two up, but you have to covert chances to win a game, and they did that with aplomb.

Almost immediately Abbey were back into it with a fine curling free kick finding the bottom corner of the net. I could see more goals following in the second half when I adjourned to a reasonable busy clubhouse at half time, which had attracted all day customers on their day off.

The second half was scrappier but gradually settled down. Abbey missed an easy chance before Swifts squandered three in rapid succession at the other end. The game was getting niggly. Abbey had a small forward who was like a Jack Russell snapping at the defenders heels. The defenders thought he was fouling quite a lot and I sympathised. He was penalised but as a defender got up having won the free kick he stupidly stood on his opponents leg and was quite rightly sent off.

Both sides made changes and Abbey made many half chances but they weren't getting much fortune. The visitors keeper made a fine save near the end, which left just enough time for a home player to see red mist and a card of the same colour as Swifts sent their decent away following home in jubilant mood.



 









The two players weren't the only ones to see red. My text updates had revealed Boro had somehow contrived to lose 3-1 at home. I was not happy to say the least, especially after my good mate Fred gave me an honest assessment of proceedings.

I had a while before my train, but I didn't bother with a pint as I'd originally intended. Instead I had the leisurely walk back to Waltham Cross station before heading home.

I enjoyed the game and my afternoon out, but unfortunately my own team put a huge damper on it.

That's football!


  

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