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.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Erith & Belvedere
Erith & Belvedere are a non league football club who were formed in 1922, who represent the town of Erith in South East London. The club were formed following the restructuring of Belvedere & District FC who were formed in 1918. They immediately became members of the Kent League.
At the end of World War Two 'The Deres' became founder members of the Corinthian League before joining the Athenian League in 1963 when it expanded to three divisions. They progressed up that league but decided to rejoin the Kent League in 1978. They lifted the title in 1982 and were promoted to the Southern League.
In 1997 their Park View ground in Belvedere suffered a fire which destroyed the Main Stand. The club moved to Park View Road to share with Welling United. On the pitch the side struggled constantly for twenty or so years before eventually being relegated to the Kent League in 2005, which was the clubs first ever demotion.
After several years of rebuilding and attempts on promotion, The Deres achieved their aim at the end of the 2012-13 as they lifted the Kent League title on the final day of the season.
Erith & Belvedere will play in the Isthmian League Division One North in the 2013-14 season.
Thursday in April 1984
I was still at Borehamwood at college struggling to get my head around my course and failing badly. Light relief was needed so I set out on a days groundhopping south of the river.
I had been to The Valley at Charlton as it looked likely that they may have been close to going out of business and I wanted a chance to see the old place, before heading to Belvedere by bus.
Park View had seen better days to be honest. The Main Stand down one side was wooden and low with bench seating. The side opposite had a low cover with the rest of the ground being made up of flat open grass and hard standing.
Wednesday 4th October 2006
I went past where the ground once stood on another groundhopping day when travelling from the grounds of Thamesmead Town to Erith Town. A large DIY superstore stood where the ground was once situated. It had been rumoured for several years that the club were keen to sell the ground and look to move with the proceeds, but they struggled with planning permission until the fire.
I also went on to Park View Road, The Deres new home later that day. For full details visit the Welling United page.
Erith & Belvedere 0 Lancing 2 (Sunday 14th November 2010) FA Vase Round Two (att: 96)
I had the day off work so I eagerly looked at the Non League Paper for possible fixtures that day. Epsom & Ewell were at home, or at least at Merstham FC where they were residing. However, the chance of seeing the facilities in action at Park View Road seemed more attractive at the time.
The rain was lashing down putting the game in doubt, so my brother Nick kindly rung the ground for me while I waited for a definite reply at Charing Cross before I set off. The groundsman told him personally that it would be on, so I set off on the train through the gloomy suburbs on the train.
I plumped for the bus ride to the ground. I struggled to see through the window as I looked out for my stop, such was the rain, but the display on board helped me out. The coach from the Sussex coast had already dropped off the team, officials and supporters. I paid what I thought was quite an expensive admission charge at the gate (I can't remember exactly how much, but it was more than usual for that level) and bought a programme.
I took shelter in the cold clubhouse and ordered a very average pint of bitter. It seems the standard of the ale was also shared with their hosts judging by my experiences at the ground. At least they had Sky TV so the live match was on. I went onto the Guinness and chatted to some of the Lancing supporters who seemed intent on having a very jolly day out. They were certainly thirsty!
I went outside and took a seat in the stand and sat with a friend of mine from Lord's, Bob Gunton who also does some scouting and enjoys his non league football. We had a good chat as ever, with several others around us chatting about the game and non league in general.
The open end to our left was closed. The open Park View Road End was open but the weather meant that only the hardiest of supporter stood there. The stand opposite which contained all of Welling United's facilities had one or two fans sat in it. Our stand offered an excellent view, with the changing rooms below and clubhouse to the side with a bit of open terracing at either side.
The game was competitive with both sides giving their all in treacherous conditions. The teams went in level at half time, but Lancing scored soon into the second half which really interested me as I had a golden goal ticket, which I thought was pretty close to when the ball went in. I went to see the PA man and he told me I was a minute out!
Nevermind, I went downstairs to the clubhouse for a warming medicinal whisky before enjoying the catering before the second half. The Deres pressed, but Lancing were the better side on the break. It didn't shock me when they doubled their lead.
At full time I caught the bus back to the station and then caught the train to Charing Cross. After a quick pint in the excellent but Crowded Harp, I found a traditional old pub near Leicester Square where I got talking to a dispondent Chelsea and Dartford fan. He had seen both his teams take a heavy beating over the weekend but still remained optimistic and was looking forward to travelleing to Port Vale with The Darts that week.
It was a lovely end to a good day out.