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 6, 2011

Berkhamsted




Berkhamsted FC are a non league club from the pretty historic Hertfordshire town located approximately twenty five miles north west of London, and were formed in 2009 following the demise of Berkhamstead Town FC.


Town had a history going back to 1919 when they formed by servicemen as Berkhamsted Comrades FC. They fielded two sides in Herts leagues before joining the Spartan League and changing their name to Berkhamsted Town in 1922.


In 1951 Town became founder members of the Delphian League and the club won some local cups up until 1963 when they joined the Athenian League. Financial constraints led to Town dropping back down to the Spartan League in 1966 where they remained for several years.


 











In 1983 the club moved from their original home on Lower Kings Road to a new Broadwater venue, with Town moving up to the Isthmian League the following season. They had a promotion but soon fell back to the bottom tier. In 2001 Town reached the final of the FA Vase but were beaten 2-1 by Taunton Town in the Villa Park final.


The crest of Berkhamsted Town



Non league football was reorganised in 2004 and Town were placed in the Southern League Eastern Division, moving to the Midlands Division after a couple of years. Finances were once again hitting hard at this time which helped lead to the team finishing bottom of the division in 2008 and relegation. Just a year later the club were no more as the debts proved too severe to resolve.


A downloaded image of the old Main Stand at Broadwater

Long term supporter Ben Terry pushed for a new club to be formed. Thy were nicknamed 'The Comrades' as a nice touch from the past and club colours changed from white and black to yellow and blue. Berkhamsted were accepted into the Spartan South Midlands League Division Two an they went on to lift the title at their first attempt under the management of Mick Vipond. The following season they went on to lift the Division One title.


Berkhamsted FC will compete in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division in the 2013-14 season.



 












My visit


Berkhamsted 1 Beaconsfield SYCOB 0 (Tuesday 2nd August 2011) Pre Season Friendly (att: approx 45)





It was decision time for me on where to go after an early shift at work. There were many clubs staging matches within reach, but I'd already visited many of them although not all to see a match. The train times stood out for Berkhamsted. I had rattled past many times at high speed on a train going north but had never stopped off. My mind was made up.


I took a tube from Kenton to Harrow and Wealdstone and then a London Overground train on to Watford Junction. This wasn't in my plan and I was confused as I missed my intended train on to Berko as the locals call their town. I was still there before 6pm giving time for a wander.


 










I didn't bother visiting the ruined castle which had been home to monarch's and was the capital of the country in 1066. It looked pretty but basic. Instead I walked along the towpath of the Grand Junction Canal into the Port of Berkhamsted and more importantly into The Boat for a fine pint of London Pride.


Having done my homework in advance I knew the High Road had several pubs including The Crown, a Wetherspoon's where I planned on eating. Sadly the service was slow and everyone was ordering food so I gave it a miss. The town centre was extremely pleasant and not unlike Harpenden. I sauntered along the canal before going into the clubhouse at the ground.


Top marks to whoever runs the club. They had no draught bitter, but a fine selection of four or five classic beers in bottles. Brakspear did the trick for me as I sat outside with some local fans who gave me the lowdown on the club. They were pleased that a neutral chose their game. The general organisation obviously impressed some of the visiting players when they saw the large board advertising the game.


 










I went inside Broadwater and was immediately impressed. The pleasant man on the gate charged me £4 including a four page programme, which is something clubs could do well to learn from for friendly games. He asked what a Scarborough Athletic fan was doing at the match and we had a chat. He was keen to talk about our cricket ground more than the football! His good lady was behind the counter of the refreshments kiosk. She apologised there was no hot food, which was bad news for me as I was banking on it. I had a ham roll and a Bovril instead at good value.


The ground had a Main Stand of three rows of seats across the half way line. Open flat standing were at either side, as well as a small raised terrace in front of the clubhouse. The rest of the ground was flat open standing of grass and concrete with small pillared covers behind each goal with a couple of steps of terracing. The far side was very narrow, with the brick perimeter wall being built so there were places for people to get past spectators, a bit like a railway tunnel. Trees formed an extra barrier behind the Canal End and Railway End goals. I was amazed there were no high net fences around the ground, given it being so small and the smart housing a few yards away down the side.


The visitors came out in an unusual kit consisting of red and white quarters, black shorts and sky blue socks. SYCOB (Slough Youth Centre Old Boys) were in a division above The Comrades but you couldn't tell. Both sides played high tempo football in very humid conditions. The game was tight but lacking any real goal mouth action as the sides went in scoreless. The play was often broken up as numerous balls were kicked out odf the ground, meaning constant work for the home officials in retrievals.


The second half followed suit before an incident kicked off which changed the game. A SYCOB midfielder was fouled by a home centre back and he took exception to the challenge. The free kick was cleared but the two players squared up while a thirty yard shot floated into the top corner of the home net. The visiting player totally lost it and was dragged away by teammates. The referee used great common sense by asking both managers to replace the players. It has to be said that the SYCOB manager hardly helped with his verbals towards the Berko players, whereas The Comrades boss remained calm and simply pointed out that both players would miss football if the incident escalated.


Tensions were high afterwards with a couple of stupid challenges going in. It was hard to believe this was a 'friendly' game! I gave it another fifteen minutes before heading towards the station. I was hit with an unmistakable smell as I got round the corner. A fish and chip shop was open! While I'm not normally an advocate of buying fish in the south owing to the poor batter quality, I was very hungry so I took a punt. It was not bad at all. I stood on the platform hearing the refs whistle and shouting from the ground just down the far embankment before taking my train back to Watford. 


 










I eventually got to Kenton a lot later than scheduled but I couldn't work out why until the penny dropped. I should have boarded and alighted from the Berko train at Harrow and Wealdstone. I eventually got home at 11pm vowing to learn from the error when travelling and not to hang around Kenton station for a bus at night. The company was awful.


All in all I enjoyed Berkhamsted. It was a nice town and a well run football club at a small picturesque ground. It was just a shame a couple of the players let the evening down.

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