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

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Parkgate



Parkgate FC are a non league club based on the outskirts of Rotherham in South Yorkshire. The club were formed in 1969 as B.S.C. Parkgate FC joining the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League, before progressing into the Yorkshire League in 1974.

In 1990 the club became R.E.S. Parkgate FC in 1990, eight years after becoming founder members of the Northern Counties East League. In 1994 the club dropped the initials on their title to be known as Parkgate FC.


'The Steelmen' enjoyed some successes in local cup competitions and climbed to the Premier Division of the NCEL. The club finished as runners up in the title race in 2011. A few mid to bottom of the table finishes ensued.

Parkgate FC will compete in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division in the 2015-16 season.


My visit

Parkgate 1 Scarborough Athletic 1 (Tuesday 8th November 2011) Northern Counties East League Premier Division (att: 252)


I was really looking forward to this encounter for several reasons. Boro were on a tremendous run of form in the league coming off a 5-0 away win at Thackley the previous weekend. Parkgate were also up there in the title race and all Seadogs knew only too well that this fixture could provide a huge hurdle in our championship hopes.

Just a few weeks earlier a feisty clash at Parkgate's Roundwood home had seen the home team win 2-0 and Boro finish the game with just nine men. There had been a huge fallout from the game as Boro's supporters were facing an FA charge following some of the conduct on show. 


This had been allegedly caused by a very questionable performance from the referee Mr David Hunt as well as some theatrics from the home players. The Seadogs were also fined for the conduct of their players leading to a collection being taken voluntarily by the clubs' supporters to try and ease the finances and to show a collective spirit.

Indeed, some Seadogs were so enraged that they called for a boycott of the game to try and hurt Parkgate in the pocket and show disapproval of their players' antics. Even Boro boss Rudy Funk said he was understanding if anyone stayed away, but he promised it wouldn't affect the team.

Personally I was not in favour of a stay away. A Parkgate official had been most complimentary about the vast majority of the Boro fans in the aftermath of the Vase clash. I think all clubs should be looking to help each other wherever possible, especially in the austere times of the day.


I had just finished my set of night shifts and travelled up to this match by courtesy of Megabus to Meadowhall where I sat next to returning Barnsley fan who'd been to watch The Tykes at Brighton the previous Saturday. I caught a train to Rotherham, where the silhouette of the new stadiums girders were visible in the moonlight. It was just about the most glamorous images in the town. I had a couple of pints and a meal at Wetherspoons before taking the 109 bus from the Interchange.

I had foolishly left my map at work, so I was a little concerned that I'd struggle to get off at the correct stop. I needn't have worried. Two local brothers, both in their seventies got on board, with one wearing a Boro badge. It turned out that they went to watch Scarborough whenever they played in the area and they weren't watching Rotherham United. We had a good chat about how much we all loved Scarborough as a town as they invited me to get off the bus with them before the ground and go for a beer.


The Horse and Jockey turned out to be a lovely pub, but sadly it didn't have hand pumps. Old racing and football memorabilia including lots of old programmes featuring South Yorkshire clubs adorned the walls. The three of us walked down to Roundwood where I grabbed a programme before heading upstairs to the plush clubhouse, which once again sadly lacked 'proper' ale.

Roundwood was a tick for me in the new grounds column so I was naturally looking forward to seeing what it was like. I was not to be disappointed. Once I'd paid a very decent £5 to get in, I was right behind the goal. This end had a small standing cover, a tea bar, portaloos, the referees room and a seated stand. A tall hedge formed the boundary down the left hand side where there was no spectator accommodation. The spectators on the other side had a small standing cover and then some good open terracing which was raised above pitch level. Some local residents watched the game through their windows looking down on the crowds. The final end behind the goal was a mixture of grass and concrete open standing. Rotherham United's training ground was behind the hedge.


The weather had been damp and gloomy but mild all day and this continued albeit in the dark. It meant the pitch was slick allowing lots of good tackling and fast play. Parkgate came flying out of the blocks and went one up after thirty seconds thanks to some woeful defending. Thankfully for the large contingent of Seadogs who ignored talks of a boycott, Paddy Miller netted from a corner after ten minutes.

Boro then had the large majority of chances but poor finishing and what boss Rudy Funk later described as bad decision making, meant the score remained level. The home side also had a couple of chances on the break.


Some of the travelling Seadogs in good spirits
After half time Parkgate really got into the game, with Boro still probably having more possession. However the home side came closer in front of goal of a few occasions. It was a really good end to end hard game of football. Neither side really deserved to lose, although Boro should have taken home all three points but a huge misunderstanding in front of goal between Joe Naylor and Curtis Bernard with just a few minutes remaining meant the chance was gone. Both sides got a well deserved ovation at full time.

I was kindly given a lift to the seaside to stay with my Dad by loyal supporter Colin Whelan. It had been a really good evening out.

Parkgate 2 Scarborough Athletic 4 (Saturday 16th March 2013) NCEL Premier Division (att: 254)

Generally I'm in Scarborough as soon as I get my monthly weekend off to spend time with my Dad and friends. However, on this occasion I decided to make use of a couple of extra days at home to attend a couple of matches and then travel to Rotherham on the morning of the game, before heading to the coast.




The rain was still falling as I took the train from Harrow down to Marylebone before walking to Baker Street for breakfast in the Metropolitan Bar. Wetherspoons breakfast wrap with a tea and a fine half of hoppy ale from Saltaire got me in the mood while I picked out my football bets. The train from St Pancras wasn't too busy and arrived in Sheffield on time, so all was going well.

I was going to the match with my old mate Guy Watson, who's based in Leeds. After a misunderstanding, which saw me looking for him in the wrong town, I got to Rotherham and found him in a pub. He had to find one a few minutes from the station as four coachloads of Cardiff City fans had stopped off on their way to their match at Hillsborough. There was also a heavy police presence as there was to be a BNP march later in the day.


After a pint we caught the 109 bus, which dropped us at the end of the lane to Roundwood at around 2.20 so we had time for another libation in the clubhouse and to catch up with the rest of the Seadogs; many of whom were exiled fans. We paid our £5 admission, plus £1.20 for a programme and went to stand on the far terrace down the side.

Boro started out very well, but the grumbles were that the dominance wasn't being converted into goals. It was a vital game as fellow challengers for the tile, Bridlington and Brighouse, both had relatively easy home games. Ryan Blott settled the nerves when finishing off fine work from Tony Hackworth to put the vast majority of the crowd in a good mood.


Unfortunately Boro took their foot off the pedal and it came as no surprise when Parkgate equalised, with Sam Smith slamming home a penalty after Matt Plummer had fouled. Despite having the majority of the play it looked like the Seadogs would have to go in level, until Ryan Blott set up Jimmy Beadle who bulletted a header home.

It was 3-1 before the interval. Hackworth and Denny Ingram had been complaining to the inconsistent referee Mr Smith all the half. Finally he saw that Hackworth was being unfairly grappled in the box and pointed to the spot. Bryan Hughes made no mistake sending the keeper the wrong way.


After a happy half time pint we returned to the action and I met with the author of the No Clash of Colours blogsite, who was a good bloke. We chatted away near to the end the home side attacked, when Mr Smith gave a bewildering decision to award another penalty, adjudging Plummer to have fouled when it was the other way round. Even the home supporters and linesman were laughing. Justice was done when Sam Smith hammered the ball against the top of the bar.

Boro were struggling as Blott and Milne had gone off and they were not retaining possession. The warning signs were there and it came as no surprise when Jamie Smith pulled a goal back   with fifteen minutes remaining. The away support roared the team on and they found another gear. They came close a few times before Jimmy Beadle finished off a move with just a couple of minutes to go.


I was given a ride back to York with Nick Finch before catching a train to Scarborough for a top class night out with my mates.








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