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
Worcester City FC hail from the pretty and historic county town thirty miles south west of Birmingham. The club were formed in 1902 after taking over the fixtures of local side Berwick Rangers in the Birmingham League.
Three years later, City moved into their St George's Lane ground but had to wait several years before claiming their first league title. In 1938 City became members of the Southern League. They had a short spell back in their previous league during the war years when the club were able to field several professionals as guest players.
In 1957 Welshman Roy Paul took over as player manager. He had been captain of Manchester City when they lifted the FA Cup on two occasions a few years earlier, and he immediately brought success to Worcester. In his first season the club reached the FA Cup First Round where they took Aldershot to a second replay, which saw a record crowd for a City game of 22,926 flocked to the match at St Andrews Birmingham.
The following season City reached the Third Round of the FA Cup and then defeated Liverpool 2-1 at St George's Lane before going out at home to Sheffield United in the next round. However, success did not continue and the club nearly went out of business in the early 60's until the supporters rallied round.
Some former big names of the game turned out for the team but it took until 1974 and the appointment of Nobby Clark as manager for the glory days to return. In 1977 City lifted the Southern League Division One North title, losing just one game along the way, before winning the Premier Division championship two years later. In 1979 City became founder members of the Alliance Premier League, which later became the Football Conference.
Clark was dismissed in 1984 and the club were relegated back to the Southern League the following year. Former City and Everton star John Barton took over the reigns after a few seasons of consolidation in 2001, with City becoming founder members of the Conference North in 2004.
City spent one season in Conference South to assist with the geographical locations of the clubs, before reverting back to the North. Seasons since then have been pre-occupied with a proposed move to a new ground at Nunnery Way and financial problems, with new board members doing their best to steady the ship.
Time ran out for City at St Georges Lane at the end of the 2012-13 season, as the club were forced to make a temporary move to Aggborough, the home of Kidderminster Harriers.
Worcester City FC will play in the Conference North for the 2013-14 season.
Worcester City 2 Scarborough 0 (Saturday 30th August 1980) Alliance Premier League (att: 1,865)
It was the second season of the Alliance Premier League and I was getting to an age where I was old enough to travel to matches on the Supporters Club coach. There was always a nice sensible crowd on board so my Dad let me travel south west.
It was interesting for me going such a distance as the coach went past the old grounds of Coventry City and Walsall. The older folk were disappointed that they couldn't gain entry into the clubhouse at the ground, but City were updating facilities for their new found status.
City at the time wore sky blue and white stripes, a bit like Argentina and looked very smart. I sat in the Main Stand with the kind folk off the coach as Boro were gradually beaten by the better side.
St George's Lane was a fine traditional old ground with huge corner floodlights. The Main Stand ran the full length of the pitch with a terraced paddock at the front. The Brookside opposite had a large covered area for standing with a seated stand at the back of an open terrace filling the other half. Both ends, The Canal End and Flats End were open standing areas. In the corner between the Flats End and Main Stand stood a pavilion which contained the changing rooms and club offices.
The Brookside also had a fine programme shop and secondary snack bar which saw service from myself. I remember the burgers being particularly good with a bowl of complimentary raw onions on offer to add to the taste!
Worcester City 2 Scarborough 4 (Saturday 21st November 1981) Alliance Premier League (att: 1,403)
Again I travelled with the Supporters Club with a few schoolmates also traveling. The ground hadn't changed so I once again took advantage of the good view from the Main Stand seats.
It really was an excellent game of football as Boro raced into a two nil lead through Colin Williams and Pat Olney, before City dragged it back to equalise in the second half. This upset one of my travelling companions because they announced the names of the home scorers, but not Boro's. However, we were to have the last laugh as Mitch Cook and Terry Eccles scored to take the points home to North Yorkshire, much to the disgust of a few home fans who were best avoided on the way back to the bus!
Worcester City 3 Scarborough 2 (Saturday 18th November 2006) Conference North (att: 1,053)
I was now living in London and had the day off work on the tube, so this was an obvious game for me to travel to. The pleasant train journey took me through Oxford and Evesham before dropping me off at the city's Foregate Street station.
I was keen to try a few real ales in the fine traditional pubs on the wa to the ground. One pub served fine local beer and advertised a conker championship, which was a first for me. My mate Butch texted me to say a few Seadogs were in the pub next to the ground, so I set off to meet them.
The Cavalier Inn had two or three good beers and a very friendly landlord. I needed to get back to Shrub Hill station after the game, which was a bit of a trek. He gave me a walking route alongside the canal or he offered to order me a taxi while I had a pint and saw the full time scores.
We went into the ground and then the clubhouse as I wanted to catch up on the latest news as Boro were in real trouble off the pitch. Chairman Ian Scobbie told me how the local Evening News was being most uncoperative, after I asked him why fans weren't being updated as many wanted to help. Many of the things he told me that day just didn't add up and sure enough many didn't come to fruition. I'm not sure whether the information I was given was meant to lead me along, but it was the day I stopped believing in him, after giving him many months of benefit of the doubt.
I was asked to take part in a half time competition to hit the crossbar from the penalty spot against a local fan, but I'd had a good drink so I gave the opportunity to someone else.
oro were really up against it. They couldn't fill the subs bench because they weren't allowed to sign players on because of their financial situation. They had been deducted ten points because of the state of the books before the season started, but boss Mark Patterson had put together a really attractive football team. It's just there was no back up.
The game ebbed and flowed up until half time with goals going in rapidly in a period in the middle of the half. Boro's goals came from Jamie Vermiglio and Lee Whittington. My mate Simon in Gillingham asked if the goalies had gone home as I sent him news of yet another goal going in.
St George's Lane had been tidied up since my last visit, with all the standing areas now terraced. Unfortunately the Brookside seated stand had been a victim of the severe measures introduced after the Bradford Fire Disaster and had now gone. It was still one of my favourite venues.
Boro pressed but couldn't get a valuable equaliser in the second half. I remember posting on the Surfing Seadog at full time that I couldn't believe that we hadn't grabbed at least a draw.
I went back with plenty of others to the pub and sure enough the landlord ordered me a taxi so I could enjoy a fine pint and take in the scores while shaking my head in disappointment at what I'd witnessed next door.