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
Welling United FC are a non league club on the border of Kent, located around eleven miles south east from the centre of London. 'The Wings' were formed in 1963 by a gentleman called Sydney Hobbins, who was a former goalkeeper for Charlton Athletic for his sons Barrie and Graham.
The club began as a youth side playing on a community sports ground at Butterfly Lane in Eltham before they progressed to Saturday football and joined the London Spartan League. In 1977 Welling moved into Park View Road, which was formerly home to the defunct Bexley United. In 1978 they joined the Athenian League and by 1981 they had progressed to the Southern League Southern Division.
After one season the league was re-organised as Welling found themselves in the Premier Division. In 1986 they lifted the title and were promoted into the Football Conference. Although they struggled in the league, they reached the FA Cup first round for six consecutive seasons, with Blackburn Rovers visiting Park View Road to win 1-0 in the third round.
In 1999 neighbours Erith & Belvedere moved into Park View Road as permanent tenants.
In 2000 United were relegated back to the Southern League before they gained a place in the newly formed Conference South in 2004 under the management of former England star Paul Parker. The floodlights at Park View Road were badly damaged in storms, which meant early kick offs and a costly exercise in replacing them. Several more managers took charge in the ensuing years as Welling remained in the division.
In 2010 the club were issued with a winding up order from HMRC, but the club continued thanks to the remarkable efforts of their supporters who raised the £60,000 arrears. The club were deducted five points by the Football Conference because of the debt.
Welling United competed in the Conference South play offs in the 2011-12 season but ended up losing the final to local rivals Dartford. However, The Wings bounced back the following season and lifted the league title, winning promotion to the Conference National.division.
Welling United FC will play in the Football Conference in the 2013-14 season.
Thursday in April 1984
I was in the last few weeks of my time studying Land Surveying and Cartography in Borehamwood, but I'd just about had enough. I decided to have a day away from the unintelligible maths and calculations and go groundhopping. I had been to several grounds in the area before arriving at Park View Road.
The gates were open and I found a decent enough ground for the standard the club were competing at. The Park View Road End had open terracing as did the far end, which was raised slightly behind the goal. The terracing continued down the Cricket Ground Side, which had a rickety roof over the half way line. Crush barriers were jotted around the terraces. The Main Stand had a section of terracing at each end, with old seating in the central sections. It had an undulating roof and many thin pillars along the front.
I continued on my way further south down to Sutton United and Carshalton Athletic.
Welling United 2 Scarborough 1 (Saturday 4th December 2004) Football Conference
By now I was living in London and working at Lord's Cricket Ground. As was usual at the time I'd had a good drink after work the previous evening and found myself taking the train from London Bridge on a cold and damp day in a rather fragile condition.
I walked from Welling station and continued past a couple of pubs before entering the Guy, Earl of Warwick next door to the ground. I got chatting to some friendly home fans and soon got back to form. I decided to go into the ground and use the social club, even though I was advised against it by my new pals who said the beer was awful. However, I knew there'd be a few Seadogs in there who I could catch up with.
I entered the club and got the shock of my life as the barman was a lookalike of my pal from Lord's, Alain Le Ker. Thank goodness he wasn't as thirsty as him! The lads were right. The beer was rubbish, which was rather apt for what I was about to see from Boro.
We had a decent team, but were outbattled and outthought by The Wings in a very wet afternoon. The ground hadn't changed as far as I could remember. I huddled in a seat in the Main Stand and did my best to keep warm and keep my spirits up.
At full time I returned to the pub to drown my sorrows, and what a good decision that was. The home fans were naturally jubilant and in the mood to celebrate. I joined in with them as we chatted football and generally had a good laugh. Around 7pm a bus eventually turned up to take us to Lewisham, from where we caught the DLR to Cutty Sark to try a few pubs out in Greenwich.
I left around 10pm as I was full and still had a long journey home to Willesden Green. After changing onto the Jubilee line at Canary Warf I nodded off and woke at Kingsbury. Fortunately for me there was still a train in service to take me back down to my home station.
The game was rubbish as a Boro fan, but the day out excellent. How many times have I said that!
Wednesday 4th October 2006
I was out and about around South East London and Kent on a groundhop exhibition. After visiting VCD Athletic in Crayford I took the bus up the A207 which dropped me outside the stadium on Park View Road.
By now the scene had changed as Erith & Belvedere had been given the Cricket Ground Side of the ground. They had their own turnstiles and had erected a smart new seated stand to replace the old cover as well as building a new clubhouse and club rooms with a roof designed in such a way that the stand could be extended over it at a later date if and when required.
It gave the ground a new badly needed dimension. The Main Stand had also been smartened up with extra seating installed.
I continued on to my next venue, the home of Greenwich Borough.
Erith & Belvedere 0 Lancing 2 (Sunday 14th November 2010) FA Vase Round Two (att: 96)
See the Erith & Belvedere page for full details.