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

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sheffield Wednesday



Sheffield Wednesday FC were formed in September 1867 at a meeting at the Adelphi Hotel in the city. Like many clubs of that time, they were originally a cricket club called The Wednesday after the day they played their games. Forming a football section was seen as an ideal way to keep their players fit throughout the winter.


The club played their first ever game at Norfolk Park and continued to play in local friendly matches. In the summer of 1882, the football and and cricket clubs split permanently with the cricket club disbanding in 1925. Several of The Wednesday players played in charity games for a team called The Zulus raising money for victims of the Boer War.

Some of the same players threatened to break away to form a new club called Sheffield Rovers if Wednesday did not go professional. The club eventually surrendered to the players in 1887. At this time they used Sheaf House or Bramall Lane for home matches, but in 1887 they leased some land by the railway on Queens Road from the Duke of Norfolk to build their own Olive Grove home.



In 1889 The Wednesday joined the Football Alliance after being rejected entry into the Football League and went on to win the title at their first attempt as well as reaching the FA Cup Final before going down 6-1 to Blackburn Rovers at The Oval. In 1892 they were elected into the Football League, going on to win the FA Cup in 1896, defeating Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 at Crystal Palace.

The club moved across the city to a new ground, originally called Owlerton Stadium in 1899 - hence the club having the nickname of The Owls. The Wednesday then became League champions in 1903 and 1904 as well as defeating Everton to lift the 1907 FA Cup. In 1914 the home stadium was renamed Hillsborough.

After a relatively quiet period the club officially changed their name to Sheffield Wednesday in 1929. They celebrated by winning back to back League titles and winning their third FA Cup in 1935. The team only finished outside the top three on one occasion in the First Division between 1929 and 1935. 


Unfortunately after the War Wednesday found going tough and were relegated three times from the top flight in the 1950's. An improvement followed in the 60's before a scandal hit the club in 1964. Three players Peter Swan (who was tipped to play for England in the 1966 World Cup), David Layne and Tony Kay were found guilty of match fixing and betting against their own team and sent to jail. Despite this set back Wednesday reached the FA Cup Final of 1966 and looked sure winners before Everton recovered from two goals down to win 3-2.

In 1970 Wednesday were relegated and went down to the Third Division for the first time in their history. In 1976 they only just survived going down to the bottom tier before Jack Charlton arrived and steadied the ship and brought about huge improvement and a promotion. Howard Wilkinson took over in 1984 and took the side back to the first division.



The club was rocked as it staged the FA Cup semi final on 15th April 1989 between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Ninety six Liverpool fans were crushed to death when the Leppings Lane end became chronically overcrowded. Reports found that the major cause was the authorities lack of crowd control with South Yorkshire Police being severely criticised. In 2011 there were calls for all papers to be released, some of which were believed to be tampered with.

In 1990 Wednesday went down again but the charismatic Ron Atkinson took them straight back up as well as winning the League Cup against Manchester United at Wembley. This was the clubs first major honour for fifty years. The following season they finished in third position in the League under Trevor Francis. The 1992-93 season saw Wednesday appear at Wembley four times. Arsenal defeated them in the League Cup Final. The FA Cup semi final was played there and Wednesday defeated their great rivals Sheffield United aided by a first minute goal by Chris Waddle. In the final they once again faced Arsenal who were victorious after a stoppage time goal in the replay.


After this the clubs fortunes took a turn for the worse as several managers including Danny Wilson and David Pleat spent large amounts of money on players without any success, which culminated in two relegation's and third tier football in 2003. Paul Sturrock replaced Chris Turner at the helm and took the side up via the play offs at Cardiff against Hartlepool United. Sturrock was sacked fifteen months later. Brain Laws had a spell in charge before Alan Irvine arrived. Unfortunately Wednesday were relegated in 2010.

The clubs overspending had been a major concern over many years and led to many boardroom battles and supporters dissent. The club faced several winding up orders in 2010 over unpaid tax and VAT bills. There was serious concerns that the club would go bust. In November 2010 the former owner of Portsmouth and Leicester City, Milan Mandaric bought the club for his company; UK Football Investments for just £1. In return he agreed to pay off the clubs debts in a largely confidential deal. Mandaric bought in former player Gary Megson as the new manager.



Megson was sacked as the team faltered during the 2011-12 season. Dave Jones came in for the last twelve games and led Wednesday to promotion to The Championship. However, Jones was not given any appreciable improvement in the playing budget and as a consequence he was dismissed in December 2014.


Coach Stuart Gray was the new manager after an initial spell as caretaker. The 2014-15 season looked like it would start with new owners at Hillsborough, but the deal with an Azerbaijani businessman taking over. However, the deal was called off when Hafiz Mammadov failed to fulfil his obligations.


The club was eventually sold to Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri as the side finished in mid table. This was deemed insufficient by the new supremo and Gray was given his marching orders to be replaced by Carlos Carvalhal.

Sheffield Wednesday will play in the Football League Championship in the 2015-16 season.


My visits

Coventry City 3 Leeds United 2 after extra time (Sunday 12th April 1987) FA Cup Semi Final




I was a football mad youth in Scarborough and although I wasn't the biggest Leeds fan, many of my good mates were. Every Thursday the local branch of the Leeds United Supporters Club met at the Liberal Club in The Crescent where general football was spoken and a pool league took place. It was always a good social and I enjoyed the company despite taking plenty of stick for going to watch Scarborough and Hull City.

Leeds had a great run and beat Hull's victors in the fifth round of the FA Cup, Wigan Athletic to set up a semi final tie at Hillsborough against Coventry City who were having their greatest season with a team of journeymen who all seemed to gel.

Tickets were allocated to all the regular travellers and there were still a few spare. Both my brother Nick and I were offered one for the match as well as travel on one of two coaches, no doubt helped by pals such as the much missed Paul Denton putting in a good word for us.




The match was an early kick off on a Sunday as Leeds fans still had a bad reputation and the police didn't want anyone drinking - some chance! We got to Hillsborough and parked about half a mile north of the ground. We got into the ground and went for our terracing place. There was no great organising and everyone was left to get on with it. There was overcrowding and my feet were off the ground at one point before I managed to get into the pen to the side. The atmosphere was electric.


 
Hillsborough seemed massive to me. We were at the Leppings Lane End, which two years later was scene of the terrible disaster. Downstairs where we were was three pens of terracing with seating above. A big corner terrace went round to the cantilevered seated North Stand. This was a dramatic development when put up in 1961 and only the second to be built in the UK after one at The Old Show Ground at Scunthorpe. The far end Spion Kop was covered after a roof and extra terracing had been added the previous year and holding 22,000 fans. Originally it had been a strange naturally shaped open bank  To the right was the South Stand which had a former standing paddock and a rear covered section both now seated with a splendid pointed gable in the middle.

Leeds went ahead through David Rennie before Mickey Gynn equalised. Keith Houchen put Coventry ahead before Keith Edwards came on for Leeds and headed home. Brendan Ormsby dithered on the ball in extra time and let City winger Dave Bennett in to net the winner.

We went back to the coaches and waited for our very upset mates. We made the best of a bad job and all went out for a beer when we got home to Scarborough.

Sheffield Wednesday 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 (Saturday 23rd December 2000) Division One (att: 17,787)



I was living in London and working at Lord's and heading back to Scarborough for Christmas. I arrived on the Friday and my good Scarborough and Wolves supporting mate Karl Theobald suggested going to the match at Hillsborough. His mates down in Wolverhampton who I had met at Molineux could get us tickets in advance, so I readily agreed.

We arrived in good time for a couple of beers. Karl being a good lad could only have shandy as he was driving, but he was keen for me to have my Saturday lunchtime ration. It was easier said than done. The first two pubs only let Wednesday season ticket holders inside. It looked like it was going to be a dry lunch. Then the penny dropped. We tried a different approach and went to the door of another pub and explained we were neutral fans up from Scarborough for a day out. The doorman's face lit up. He loved going to Scarborough on many good days out and in we went. Unfortunately for my mate, the pub was warm as it was cold outside and he had to keep his coat buttoned right up as he had a Wolves shirt on underneath!


We left and went to the ground where Gary was waiting with our tickets. We were sat upstairs in the Leppings Lane End. Below us the ill fated terrace was now seated as was all of the ground. The only major structural change was to the South Stand which had a new upper tier and a new raised roof, thankfully with a new gable. This stand was improved as it staged Denmark's games during Euro 96.

How Wolves did not win heavily, I'll never know? Wednesday were frankly awful, especially at the back. The visitors spurned numerous chances. George Ndah scored the only goal of the game.

Good old Karl had us back for tea in Scarborough so we were ready for a Saturday night out.

 
Wednesday 20th July 2011

I was in South Yorkshire after an overnight stay in Doncaster following Scarborough Athletic's pre season friendly at Goole. I had been to Millmoor and the Don Valley Stadium before I took the Supertram for the long but interesting ride to the Leppings Lane stop.


I walked down the hill past a junior school and into the forecourt behind the Leppings Lane Stand. I noticed the gate was open which led down under the South Stand. As luck would have it some contractors were working and left a gate open under the police control room in the corner between the stands. I needed no second invitation!

I went inside and took as many photos as I could as quickly as possible without being seen. On my way out I noticed the gents toilet was open so I used the facilities on offer. Luckily my timing was just quick enough because as I was coming out a bloke in a club sweatshirt was shutting the gate. He quizzically looked at me. I just smiled and said hello, and he opened the gate.


I walked under the huge South Stand and around behind The Kop while keeping an eye on the bus stop over the road. I took a few more shots before taking a bus back into the city.







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