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


September 2015

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur FC from North London were formed as Hotspur FC in 1882 by grammar schoolboys from All Hallows Church, who were also members of Hotspur Cricket Club. In 1884 the club were renamed Tottenham Hotspur to avoid confusion with another more established club by the name of Hotspur FC.

The club had several club colours including sky blue and white halved shirts after seeing Blackburn Rovers win the FA Cup, before settling on white shirts and navy blue shorts in 1899 as a tribute to Preston North End who were the leading club of the day.

Originally the team played its home games on Tottenham Marshes before they moved to Northumberland Park in 1888 so that they could play at an enclosed ground and charge admission. 'Spurs' as the club became commonly known as, were eventually admitted into the Southern League in 1895 after turning professional and soon drew decent sized crowds to their matches.

In 1899 the club moved to a former market garden on Tottenham High Road, which in time became known as White Hart Lane after a nearby road. Spurs benefitted from players being attracted to the club as they lifted the Southern League championship in 1900 and then the FA Cup the following year while still a non league club when they defeated Sheffield United in a replay at Burnden Park, Bolton.

In 1909 Tottenham were elected to the Football League and were soon promoted to the top flight. In the final season before World War One, the team finished bottom of the table. When peace was restored, controversy reigned.

The First Division was extended to twenty two teams. Chelsea who had finished second bottom were reprieved. Arsenal, who had caused ill feeling six years previously when they moved from south of the river to become Spurs nearest rivals while diluting their support, finished in sixth place in the second tier but were promoted.

In 1920 Spurs regained their top flight status and the following year lifted their second FA Cup as Wolverhampton Wanderers were seen off at Stamford Bridge. In 1928 Spurs were relegated and suffered a period of decline up to the Second World War. Arthur Rowe took over as manager in peacetime and created his famous 'push and run' team which won promotion in 1950. A second successive title was won as Spurs became League champions with star players Bill Nicholson, Ted Ditchburn and Alf Ramsey.

The team aged but signed Danny Blanchflower in 1954. Nicholson was appointed manager in 1958 and his first game ended in a 10-4 win against Everton. He changed the team as Jimmy Greaves, Terry Dyson, John White, Cliff Jones and Dave Mackay came in. In 1961 they won the FA Cup and League double. The following season Spurs retained the FA Cup and then became the first British club to lift a European trophy in 1963 as they lifted the Cup Winners Cup after destroying Atletico Madrid 5-1 in the Rotterdam final.

The side began aging as well as losing John White who was tragically killed when he was struck by lightning, so Nicholson brought in stars such as Mike England, Cyril Knowles, Alan Gilzean and Alan Mullery. They won the FA Cup when they beat Chelsea in 1967 and then went on to win the League Cup in 1971.

In 1972 a second European trophy was added as Wolves were beaten in the two legged UEFA Cup final. The following season Norwich City were defeated as Spurs once again lifted the League Cup. In 1974 Spurs reached the final of the UEFA Cup but lost to Feyenoord. The second leg in Rotterdam was marred by riots. Bill Nicholson was so upset by what he'd seen that he resigned in the aftermath, after leading the club to eight trophies in sixteen years.

Nicholson advised the board to appoint a dream management team of Johnny Giles and Danny Blanchflower. They ignored this and consequently the club were relegated in 1977. Even worse in the eyes of Spurs fans was the sale of legendary goalkeeper Pat Jennings to Arsenal. Keith Burkinshaw remained at the helm and took the team straight back up.

Argentina won the World Cup in the summer of 1978. Spurs signed two of the stars Osvaldo Ardilles and Ricardo Villa, causing quiet a stir in the process. In 1980 the club won the FA Cup against Manchester City (which featured a wonder goal from Villa) and then the following season they kept the trophy again after a replay against Queens Park Rangers.

The club became the first to float shares in an attempt to raise finances under hte chairmanship of Irving Scholar. Star players of the day were Glenn Hoddle and Steve Perryman and in 1984 they helped the team win another UEFA Cup, this time against Anderlecht. After this David Pleat had a spell as manager as the team came close to lifting honours, before Terry Venables was appointed.

Paul Gascoigne and other stars such as Gary Lineker were bought to add to the talented squad including Chris Waddle. However in 1990 Scholar was left on the verge of bankrupcy following a fall in the property market. Businessman Alan Sugar came in and entered into a partnership with Venables to try and wipe out £20M of debts.

Spurs lifted the FA Cup in 1991 against Nottingham Forest but the day will be remembered for Paul Gascoigne's actions. He was lucky not to be sent off, before he badly damaged his knee. He was about to be sold to Lazio to help secure the clubs' future but the injury put everything in doubt.

Venables moved upstairs to become CEO with coaches Doug Livermore and Ray Clemence below him. The exciting play of Teddy Sheringham and Nicky Barmby promised much, but in June 1993 Venables was sacked by Sugar over his questionable financial dealings in an action that went all the way to the High Court. 

Former playing hero Ardiles came in as manager for a while with star signing Jurgen Klinsmann, to be followed by Gerry Francis and Christian Gross who all failed to satisfy the clubs' aspirations. A controversial decision was made to appoint the former Arsenal manager George Graham. His style of football and past was criticised but he led the team to the League Cup in 1999 as well as reaching the FA Cup semi final.

In 2001 Sugar decided that he had enough and sold the club to Enic Sports PLC led by Daniel Levy. The new owners brought back Hoddle as manager and the side showed some encouragement. Defender Sol Campbell became a figure of hate when he let his contract run out and then join Arsenal, meaning Spurs who had looked after him for all his career received nothing.

Managers including Jacques Santini, Martin Jol and Juande Ramos came and failed to produce the results required by the owners before Harry Redknapp arrived from Portsmouth as the continental style set up with a Director of Football was abandoned. In May 2010 Spurs finished in fourth place to qualify for the Champions League fore the first time, as Redknapp made many signings as well as offloading many players.

Off the pitch Tottenham were increasingly involved in an issue with the capacity of White Hart Lane for many years. The stadium had an all seated capacity of just over 36,000 whereas it once held upwards of 50,000. Plans were unveiled for a new stadium to be built adjacently and be called the Northumberland Development Project. The stadium would hold over 56,000 fans when complete, when White Hart Lane would be demolished.

Spurs pushed for extra transport links as White Hart Lane suffered in that department. When the Olympic Stadium at Stratford was put up for bids after the 2012 games. Many Spurs fans were not happy at the thought of moving away from their traditional heartland, while the club lessened their chances of a successful bid by announcing that they would not retain the running track at the stadium and would start from scratch on the site.

West Ham United were chosen as the preferred bidders in February 2011, which upset the Spurs owners greatly who took the issue to court. On 20th September 2011 the club were given planning permission for the Northumberland Development Project after consultation with local residents, Haringey Council and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Redknapp was replaced in the summer of 2012 by former Chelsea and Porto boss Andre Villas Boas. The Portuguese managers side frustrated the home faithful. In the summer of 2013 the superb Bale was sold to Real Madrid for an incredible £85.3M fee as the side just missed out on a Champions League place. 

The cash was spent on a plethora of new signings including Érik Lamela, Nacer Chadli and Roberto Soldado. The side didn't gel as hoped and in December 2013 Tim Sherwood was put in control of team affairs.

In the summer of 2014 the Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino was recruited from Southampton. He looked to gradually rebuild the side as he took them to a fifth place finish in 2014-15 with Harry Kane's goals the outstanding highlight.

Meanwhile good news arrived off the pitch as planning permission was finally granted for the construction of a new stadium next door to the current site.

Tottenham Hotspur FC will play in the FA Premier League in the 2015-16 season.

My visits

Tottenham Hotspur 1 West Ham United 0 (Wednesday 29th October 2003) League Cup Round Three (att: 36,053)

I was working as a part time steward to suppliment my basic winter wages at Lord's Cricket Ground for an agency called Recruit. I generally did games at Watford and concerts at Wembley Arena. I'd never really fancied White Hart Lane because I heard it could be tough work and the transport connections been so poor.

However, I was getting on quite well with the bosses and they pleaded with me as they were stretched with several events on the same day. They eventually pricked my vanity, so like a sucker I went on my way.

I got out at Seven Sisters tube station and walked up Tottenham High Road. The normally busy road was louder than normal owing to several police sirens and helicopters hovering over. It was obviously going to be a night when tension was high on the agenda.

Eventually I reached the ground and found my meeting point. I said hello to some familiar faces including a supervisor I knew. Recruit didn't provide all the stewards to Tottenham so generally they got the poorer of the jobs. I didn't hold up much hope of a cushy job where I could see the match. The supervisor was a bit of a wannabe and often told us of his stories as a Chelsea fan and all that came with the darker side of his days out. He proudly told us he was wearing a stab proof vest and that it had all been going off all afternoon. This hardly helped our mood or nerves.

After hanging around for what seemed like ages, we put the barriers up on Bill Nicholson Way so that there was a clear path for cars and coaches into the limited car park. One or two stars of the past were arriving to go into their corporate box for the night. Pat Jennings still looked young and fit enough to go in goal.

I was then told my job for the night. I was to go inside the Park Lane End concourse and look out for any away fans and point any infaltrators out. Only a metal gate seperated us from the Hammers fans, who were vibrant to say the least. It turned out a large gang of them had turned up early in the afternoon and smashed up two Spurs fans' pubs. This in turn had most upset the home fans.

I don't know how I was exactly meant to spot anyone. They were hardly likely to wear colours! I spent all night down there apart from a few seconds where I went upstairs to glimpse a few seconds of action. The old boys on the turnstiles said that Spurs were awful employers compared to Arsenal, where they preferred working.

Inevitably when you want the game to finish, it went to extra time before former Hammer Bobby Zamora hardly helped to calm things down by scoring the winner for Spurs.

At full time we were spoken to be an absolute idiot who thought he was ordering an army about. It was part of the job to go into the stands and check for broken seats. We all got a row to inspect. He said we weren't diligent enough (I don't think he used that exact term as he wasn't bright enough) and he generally lambasted us for our performance on the night. All this for £7.50 an hour!

I walked all the way back down the now thankfully quiet High Road back to Seven Sisters vowing never to work there as a steward again. The guys at Recruit received some honest feedback on the evening and the people at Spurs the next morning.

Tottenham Hotspur 3 Shamrock Rovers 1 (Thursday 29th September 2011) Europa League (att: 24,730)

I had been wanting to go to White Hart Lane in better circumstances for some time, but the problem was getting tickets for a game. I registered on the website and was delighted when I obtained a ticket for the match against Irish giant killers Shamrock Rovers.

The weather was stunning for the time of year and ideal for going to a game and having a pre match beer. I was concerned that my ticket didn't come through the post, but the ticket office assured me that I could pick up a duplicate from their office on the day.

I made my way to Liverpool Street and caught the train to Northumberland Park. I wanted to visit a pub at that end of the stadium called the Bill Nicholson in honour of the great former servant and Scarborian! There was plenty of memoribilia to keep me going in the large cavern of a pub for a few minutes, before it was time to head off to meet my cricket watching and Spurs supporting mate John Jobber. I managed to get my duplicate ticket after a misunderstanding with a former stewarding colleague as the visiting fans looked up in bewiderment at where their team were about to play.

John took me off to another pub which was just what the doctor ordered. The Antwerp Arms was a throwback to how I like my locals, albeit without any  hand pumps. It had a good atmosphere, pretty barmaids, a top jukebox and a mixture of home and away fans. The Rovers fans were in full voice and while they didn't expect to win, they were certainly going to have a party. I was offered a free ticket with them as they had over ordered or lost a pal. It was hard to tell. They were certainly imbibed!

I walked along with John and Nick to the Park Lane End and made my way up to the top tier to find that my seat was right next to the gap between the two sets of fans. It was perfect for the atmosphere. The Park Lane Stand was two tiered with the top deck overhanging and a large video screen perched on the roof. The opposite Paxton Road Stand was pretty much the same. The East Stand was in three layers with a row of corporate boxes with the opposite West Stand having two tiers seperated by boxes. All the corners were filled in to give the ground a truly enclosed feel which kept the noise in.

The visiting fans, as well as plenty of London based Irish made a real racket and their team did them proud. Spurs had plenty of fringe players in their line up and while playing well, they could not breach the Rovers rearguard. Shamrock caused a sensation when they qualified for the group stages after knocking out Partizan Belgrade when both Celtic and Rangers were knocked out of the competition on the same evening.

The second half was about to get better for The Hoops (although they were dressed in black for the occasion) when they went one goal up. The noise and celebrations were incredible. Even the home fans were applauding. Unfortunately, this also led to their downfall as they were perhaps guilty of over ambition.

Spurs picked Rovers off and scored three quick goals in the space of ten minutes to take control. Despite Rovers best efforts, that was the end of their dream although they had done their league and club proud.

I left a minute or two from full time as I had an early train to catch to Scarborough the following morning. I rushed up the High Road, which was glady showing few signs of the riots from a few months ago (although its admittedly never been the smartest of areas) and managed to get onboard the first train back from White Hart Lane station to Liverpool Street.

It had been a fabulous evenings entertainment and good value in my book for £25.

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Hull City 0 (Saturday 16th May 2015) FA Premier League (Att: 35,857)

This turned out to be an ideal fixture for me while on night shift. I had lunch at home while watching the Norwich v Ipswich Play Off match on TV before setting off at 1.15, travelling by tube and then Overground to South Tottenham via Gospel Oak. As the station is 200m south of Seven Sisters, it turned out far easier to get a seat on a bus up Tottenham High Road to outside the away fans corner.

An ambitious attempt to get into the Bell & Hare failed so I went straight inside the stadium at 2.30. The mad doctor Allam had used the away fans pool with doing up the visitors section at the KC and offering City away fans gifts. This time everyone received a scarf. The City fans were in good voice on the concourse where a pint of London Pride from a can set me back £4.

It was a glorious sunny day for football and I had a reasonable view up back behind the corner flag for my £32 outlay. Fortunately my brother Nick had got me a seat on the end of the row, which was just as well with the limited leg room. The stewards used their common sense and allowed us to remain standing.

There was plenty of City possession but without any real cutting edge in the first half. Jelavic hit the corner of post and bar, but was caught offside or failed to take the last man on far too often owing to his lack of pace and reading of the game. There was not enough pace or creativity on show. in a game that City really had to win to give realistic hope of saving the side from relegation. The task wasn’t aided as Jake Livermore had been suspended by the club after being found guilty of taking cocaine following the Crystal Palace away game a few weeks earlier.

It was good at half time to see both sets of fans give Brad Freidal an ovation during his retirement interview on the pitch as well as more for Jimmy Greaves who was scheduled to have been inducted into the Spurs Hall of Fame the previous Wednesday.

I always had the feeling that Spurs had another gear should it be required, and so it proved with strikes from Nacer Chadli and Danny Rose within a few second half minutes. City huffed and puffed but missed the only real guilt edge chance in a scramble at 2-0 down as various players fluffed their lines.

Despite the disappointment on the pitch there was excellent vocal away support throughout with plenty of Allam Out chants and banners on show.

The result and those of Newcastle United and Sunderland meant that Hull City had to win on the final day against Man Utd and hope the others failed to retain the clubs Premier League status. The last time it had happened was during United's second division season. I felt that City's best hope was that the United class of '74 showed up so that maybe, but just maybe Huddlestone and Jelavic may outpace someone.

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