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, September 20, 2011

AFC Darwen

 












AFC Darwen are a non league, and former Football League club from the market town a few miles south of Blackburn in East Lancashire. The club were formed in 1870 as Darwen FC, originally playing rugby union and cricket before turning to football in 1875.

In October 1878 Darwen played against a representative team from Blackburn under floodlights, in one of the first ever instances of a game under lights. They became the first northern club to feature heavily in the FA Cup, reaching the quarter finals of 1879, causing great controversy along the way by signing what were believed to be the first ever two professional players from Partick Thistle.

In 1881 they reached the FA Cup semi finals and a decade later became members of the Football League. They were relegated to the newly formed second division after just one season, in which they lost one game to a joint record top flight score of 12-0 to West Bromwich Albion. 'The Salmoners' spent one more division in the top flight but subsequently resigned from the League in 1899 to join the Lancashire League and also move into The Anchor Ground.




Having won the title in their new surroundings, Darwen moved to the Lancashire Combination in 1902 where they were crowned as league champions on four occasions. After the final triumph of 1976 the club joined the Cheshire County League where they remained until becoming founder members of the North West Counties League in 1982. The club has spent the majority of itsd time in the lower reaches of this league up to 2012.

In 2002 the Carlsberg Tetley brewery attempted to wind up the football and social club but were thwarted. In 2008 more companies filed for liquidation over unpaid bills. The club tried to make an offer through a CVA but this was rejected, so the club was wound up on the 14th May 2009 in the High Court.

Almost immediately the club was reformed as AFC Darwen and entered the West Lancashire League, where they spent just one season before returning to the North West Counties League.

AFC Darwen will compete in the North West Counties League Division One in the 2013-14 season.


 









My visit

Wednesday 14th September 2011

I was in East Lancashire for the day after attending the Accrington Stanley v Rotherham United match the previous evening. I had visted a few clubs earlier in the day, with my most recent being Blackburn Rovers.

Elaine, my guide at Ewood Park had given me a good time scale of how long I'd need to get to the Anchor Ground and thankfully a bus had soon arrived to take me down Bolton Road and under the M65 motorway to a stop outside The Anchor pub. The ground was a hundred metres or so up Anchor Road by the side of the Crown Paints factory.


 









The gates of the ground were open and shouting could be heard from within. There was a match being played between two colleges and the clubhouse door was open so I popped in and asked for permission to take my photos. Three chaps were decorating the rooms and I was told I was more than welcome to grab a brush!

The Anchor Ground was one of the better ones I'd seen at this level. The changing rooms were in the corner by the turnstiles with the clubhouse by the touchline. The rest of this side was filled with a long stand with red plastic seats and room for fans to stand under cover. The remaining three sides all had three steps of terracing, with grass coming through down the far touchline. At least there were raised areas on all sides for spectators to gain a decent view.

I went back down the road and saw a bus whizzing past. The timetable said another was due, so I waited. It turned out to be an error as I ended up missing my intended train to Manchester because the next bus was so late in arriving. However, not all was lost as I stayed on the bus to Bolton, rather than being tempted to the Alexandra Hotel which was once a minute away from the original Barley Bank home and where the club signed their players. 


 









From Bolton I caught a connecting train which dropped me virtually outside my hotel by Salford Central station to complete a lovely day in the extremely hospitable East Lancashire cotton belt.

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