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.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
East Thurrock United
East Thurrock United FC are a non league club from the town of Corringham in Essex, which is approximately twenty five miles of central London. The club were formed in 1969 playing its matches at Corringham Recreation Ground, as it was felt a senior Saturday team was required to represent Corringham and its nearby neighbour of Stanford-le-Hope.
'The Rocks' played in local football before progressing to the Metropolitan-London League, The Spartan League and then the Essex Senior League in 1979. Home games were played at The Billett in Stanford-le-Hope, before moving in to share with Grays Athletic to achieve senior status. Tilbury FC's Chadfield was also used for a spell before the club were assisted by Greene King Brewery and Thurrock Council to purchase some land on Rookery Hill to build their own home ground.
In 1992 the team finished third and won promotion to the third tier of the Isthmian League. Another promotion was won in 2000, before the non league pyramid was re-organised in 2004. United were placed in the Southern League Eastern Division. The team finished in second place, which led to a promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division.
The club applied to the Essex FA and the Isthmian League to change their name to Thurrock United FC in the summer of 2007, but they were rejected. At the end of the next season The Rocks were relegated, before returning to the leagues' top tier in 2011. From 2010 United played landlords to their old friends from Grays Athletic, who had lost their own home stadium.
East Thurrock United FC will play in the Isthmian League Premier Division in the 2013-14 season.
East Thurrock United 2 Horsham 1 (Monday 24th September 2001) Isthmian League Division Two (att: approx 100)
I was working at Lord's Cricket Ground and the cricket season had just finished. My appetite for going to live football was in full flow, helped by England's 5-1 demolition of Germany in Munich earlier in the month. I was getting more adventurous so I decided to set out to East Thurrock without really knowing exactly where the ground was.
I took a tube to West Ham and then the C2C service to Stanford-le-Hope. I set off walking through the village and then down Corringham Road. I didn't think the ground was as far as it turned out as I didn't attempt to catch a bus. On arriving at Corringham I set out to find the ground without really knowing exactly where I was going. A local put me right, but it was still quite a distance.
Eventually I arrived at Rookery Hill. The ground was neat and fine without being anything out of the ordinary. The changing rooms and offices etc were down one side with a clubhouse behind and a seated stand in front. There were two small covered terraces behind the Corringham End goal, but the rest of the ground consisted of open flat grass and hard standing.
I was slightly surprised to see a few away fans at the game, which was quite unusual at the game I'd attended in that league up to now. I wrote this report ten years later, so I can't remember anything remarkable about the game. I do know the catering was good and the clubhouse busy with a darts match just about to begin.
I walked back a bit quicker, using the main A13 to the Stanford border. I got back with a while to wait before the train back to London, which is where the fun and games really began.
I was nicely settled and thinking of getting a little sleep before arriving back at Liverpool Street, when we were asked to get off the train at Grays as it had broken down and a replacement was required. This took quite some time, much to the dismay of everyone. Eventually we were put on a bus to Barking that stopped at each station on route. This was most unsatisfactory.
Sure enough when we got to Barking, the tubes had stopped working. The rail staff were doing their best to get away from the situation and tell us to catch night buses, but I was not having any of that. I insisted we were put in free taxis. Eventually they relented and I got in with some other passengers also needing to go to North West London.
I got back to Willesden Green in the early hours tired, hungry and generally fed up. At work the next morning my colleagues just shook their heads as most people who are not non league football fans do when you give a tale of woe!
Friday 2nd September 2011
It was a stunning day in London and I was off work. I had meant to head to East Thurrock once again, as well stopping off at Tilbury, to get some photos for this blog and to have a ride out. Originally I intended to rest at home and travel to Essex on the Monday, but the weather was just too good to miss.
I had been to some cricket at Lord's and visited Tilbury before taking a train to Stanford-le-Hope. This time I'd prepared properly and found out the bus times in advance. Before too long the 100 service had dropped me off at Corringham Social Club and I walked down the pleasant lane to Rookery Hill.
The clubhouse was busy with local drinkers and two gentlemen were working at the ground. They gave me permission to go up the players tunnel and into the ground to take some photos.
The ground had changed little in the ten years since I last went, apart from the addition of a very smart new seated stand opposite the older version. A double decker portakabin had also been put down the main side touchline to provide Grays Athletic with office space.
I thanked the gents and walked back up the hill to catch the bus back to the station. I'd spotted a couple of fine pubs near to the station, but I was ahead of schedule, with a London train due. I gave the beer a miss and got back to the metropolis when I had the opportunity. I didn't want the same complicated journey as last time!
I went home and cooked myself a meal and settled down to watch England give an excellent performance in the away European Qualifier against Bulgaria while cooling down. It really had been a wonderful day.