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
Tilbury FC were found in 1900 and come from the port around twenty miles east of London on the north bank of the Thames Estuary.
Initially the club competed in local football before gaining senior status in 1926 and joining the Kent League. They lasted just four seasons before transport costs forced them to join the London League. Until the Second World War, the club played at a ground called Orient Field as it was owned by a director of Leyton Orient. He told Tilbury they could only continue there if they would become a feeder club to the Londoners. They refused and moved next door into Chadfields.
In 1949 'The Dockers' had a fine FA Cup run which a record gate of 5,500 flock to Chadfields for the tie with Gorleston, before they travelled to Meadow Lane to play in front of a large crowd where they went down to a Notts County side including former England star Tommy Lawton.
The following year, Tilbury became members of the Metropolitan League before a switch back to the London League, where they were league champions for four consecutive years between 1958 and 1962. The club spent the aborted 1962-3 season in the Delphian League, before joining the Athenian League.
In 1973 Tilbury became founder members of the new second division of the Isthmian League. They spent the next thirty years moving up and down the divsions until 2004 when the restructuring of the non league pyramid saw them placed in the Eastern Division of the Southern League.
This move was most unsuccessful as they finished bottom of the table and were relegated to the Essex Senior League. In 2006 a third place finish saw Tilbury reclaim their Isthmian League place and two years later they lifted the Isthmian League Cup, an honour they also won in 1975.
Tilbury FC will compete in the Isthmian League Division One North in the 2013-14 season.
Tilbury 1 Enfield Town 0 (Tuesday 31st July 2001) Pre Season Friendly (att: approx 150)
I travelled to this match after work one warm summers evening to visit a new ground as well as catching a first sight of Enfield Town who were a newly formed breakaway club, who'd had enough of the way that Enfield FC was being run.
I caught the train to Tilbury from Fenchurch Street and then walked through the extremely desolate town to the ground. It really was as bleak as anywhere I'd ever visited. However, Chadfields offered a lovely surprise.
The clubhouse was busy, mainly with visiting 'Towners' and I bumped into more than one Lord's regular. They seemed full of energy, enthusiasm, but still some anger. Optimism was high that their new club would be going places pretty soon.
I went inside the ground and was again pleased with what I saw. The Main Stand down the right was an unusual structure. The seats appeared to peer through large open windows on a raised block above the changing rooms. Opposite was a long low cover which was a mixture of seating and terracing. Both ends had a few rows of open terrace, which continued around the corners, as well as high nets preventing stray shots going out of the ground. The Clubhouse End also had a decent snack bar.
I wrote the report over ten years after my visit, so details of the match are vague, but I'm pretty sure I got the score right.
I walked back through the deserted town to Tilbury Town station and the train home.
Friday 2nd September 2011
I was off work and it was a stunning day. I had intended to return to Tilbury for some photos for some time, along with East Thurrock United. I had reserved the following Monday for the task but the weather was just too good not to get out and about.
I enjoyed a fine 'Spoons breakfast and then Middlesex seeing off Leicestershire in less time than I expected at Lord's, before heading to Fenchurch Street station for the ride along to Essex. The journey took around forty five minutes to Tilbury Town.
The area was just as I remembered. In a word it was awful. I guess the streets were once thriving as the docks were the gateway to London for passengers and industry before airlines took over. Plenty of retired people were about, and they seemed cheerful enough, but the town really did need investment. It was a poor mans Goole. I had not seen an open pub in either of my visits.
I walked along St Chads Road to the ground where a couple of gents were working on the ground. They let me through inside and I told them what I was doing. I mentioned it was better than doing nothing for the day in London. The younger of the two said, "Well there's f**k all to do around here!" His older mate didn't hear that I lived in London, and remarked it was a long way to come from Scarborough to take some photos. Come on. Not even I'm that mad!
The ground had changed little from what I remembered. It was certainly one of the better venues at that level and it had the air of a club who'd played at a better level with decent support in the past.
A couple of days later I attended the AFC Dunstable v Grays Athletic FA Cup tie where I got talking to a visiting fan who was brought up in Tibury and used to go to their matches. He fondly recalled the ties with Gorleston and Notts County, which he went to as a youngster.
I walked back to the station to await for my train onto Stanford-le-Hope and a visit to East Thurrock United.