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 21, 2011
Hayes FC were a non league club based in the suburban town in West London, who were formed in 1909 and continued until 2007, when they merged with nearby Yeading FC to form Hayes & Yeading United FC.
The club were original known as Botwell Mission FC and were formed by a lady called Eileen Shackle, who wanted boys to enjoy sport as well as their religious studies. The team originally got changed at a small church and stored their kit there.
The club changed their name to Hayes FC around 1930 and went on to join the Athenian League in 1930, the same season they were runners up in the FA Amateur Cup, after seasons of playing local football. 'The Missioners' remained in the same league until joining the Isthmian League in 1971 with a championship win in 1957.
Star players over the next decade included Robin Friday and Cyrille Regis. The club gradually progressed with the help of players such as Jason Roberts and Les Ferdinand, before finally lifted the league title in 1996 under the management of Terry Brown to gain promotion into the Football Conference.
Although Hayes finished one season in third place, it was a struggle for the club, not least attracting crowds. In 2002 they were relegated back into the Isthmian League, although they were only there for a couple of seasons as the Conference South was created.
At one time there had been talk of developing their Church Road home, but it was now rumoured the club were looking to sell it. Finances were still an issue and talks began between Hayes and Yeading about a possible merger and a move to Beaconsfield Road. The clubs eventually joined together on the 18th May 2007.
Sunday 15th January 1984
I was a student at college in Borehamwood on London's northern outskirts and ready to start visiting the clubs featured in my Non League Annual. It was all very exciting at the time being able to actually see the places I'd only ever read about. It went a long way to develop my geographical knowledge.
I wasn't even aware of all day travelcards, so I was going from ground to ground by paying for seperate bus rides, which were thirty pence a go if I remember rightly. It was a frosty but bright winters morning and I'd just left Earlsmead, the home of Harrow Borough. I was stood by the bus stop when remarkable a college mate Steve Austin pulled up in his car after seeing me. He was heading to Heathrow Airport to pick up a relative, so he kindly dropped me off at Church Road on the way.
The ground was locked when I arrived, but I was determined that wasn't going to stop me. The ground was surrounded by high wire fences. I was a lot more adventurous back then so I climbed over the gate.
Church Road was quite an impressive venue. The Main Stand wasn't very big, but it had a seating deck raised behind a brick wall, with a few steps of terrace in front. This continued either side of the stand in the open. The rest of the ground had open terracing around it, with curved away behind the goals. It had flat bits at the back. The side opposite the stand had a decent sized cover. The paintwork at the time was amber as Hayes spent a spell in those colours away from their traditional red and white stripes and black shorts.
I clambered back over the fence to be met by the caretaker. I had left my leather gloves in the ground, so I had to explain what I was doing. He felt pity on me and opened the gate. The large car park had a seperate clubhouse building, which opened throughout the week.
I went across the road to wait for the next bus heading down towards Hounslow and my next venue.
Hayes 0 Scarborough 1 (Tuesday 11th April 2000) Football Conference (att: 503)
By now I was in London and working at Lord's. Over the season I'd met other Seadogs based in the south so I travelled on a damp evening to the match with other friends. We had met at Kings Cross before heading to Paddington, where we had a few beers before taking the train to Hayes and Harlington station.
At the ground I bumped into work colleagues Ray and Stuart Wetherhead who I sat with in the Main Stand. The ground hadn't changed too much, but it had been tidied up with crush barriers and a new high perimeter fence.
Boro deservedly won 1-0 with a Darren Roberts goal. I had to laugh when the Hayes substitute turned out to be Neil Treble, who had a very poor spell as a Scarborough player.
I was given a lift back to the station at full time so I could make a quick getaway with me having to start at work early the next morning.
Hayes 1 Scarborough 2 (Saturday 16th March 2002) Football Conference (att: 631)
Boro were slowly digging themselves out of a seemingly impossible task when manager Russell Slade took over the managerial reigns and enthusiasm was high. Karl was down from Scarborough for the weekend and we met up with Dave Cammish and his mate from the casino, Craig as well as Carl Ellis who I was putting up.
We had a beer at Paddington before catching the train in the nick of time. We were meeting Simon and his mates from Gillingham in The Botwell Inn for a pint before heading to the ground to give the club some trade in the clubhouse.
There was a good turn out of Seadogs who watched a comfortable 2-1 win with Karl Rose netting twice, which went a long way to secure our safety after a midweek win at Stalybridge. Hayes were relegated at the end of the season.
We returned to town and went for beers in the city centre at a pub near Oxford Street. Carl and I headed back to Willesden, while big Karl went night clubbing in the city with the rest of the crowd.
Friday 20th October 2006
I set out to take photos at grounds around West London. I particularly wanted to visit Church Road as the rumour mill suggested the ground wasn't going to be around for much longer.
I arrived after a call to The Warren, home of Yeading to find the gates locked and a huge market on the car park. There was no way I could climb the gates as they were very much more secure than on my first visit, even if I was athletic enough to try.
I basically wandered around and grabbed any views I could, many from through the gap at the bottom of the new fencing.
It was the last time I went to Church Road before Hayes and Yeading United was created and the club moved out for good at the end of the 2010-11 season.