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

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest are a non league football club from the East of London who have been known under many various guises over the years since their formation in 1964.

The club were originally called as Pennant FC and playing in local league football, before joining the Metropolitan League in 1975, a competition they won at their first attempt. In 1983 Pennant joined the London Spartan League, winning promotion at their first attempt.

In 1988 Walthamstow Avenue were swallowed up by the complicated Redbridge Forest (later to become Dagenham & Redbridge) merger, so the club changed their name to Walthamstow Pennant FC to keep the name of Walthamstow alive in senior football while playing at Wadham Lodge.

A league and cup double allowed for promotion to the Isthmian League in 1991, but it was denied because Wadham Lodge was deemed not up to the required standards. Neighbours Leyton Wingate decided that they had no future at their Lea Bridge Road home, so they decided to merge with Pennant to become Leyton Pennant FC and keep the place in their Isthmian League.

The old titled club badge
This decision has caused numerous discussions and fall outs, over club histories, especially when another club called Leyton FC were set up at Lea Bridge Road. Please visit the page on Leyton FC to make your own mind up!

Pennant had a decent spell in the higher echelons of the Isthmian League, before they suffered a relegation and gradually found their level.

In 2003 under the Chairmanship of Harry Ramis, the club changed its name once again to Waltham Forest FC to reflect the borough that the club represented and to try and encourage more support and sponsors. The chairman's brother Hakan Ramis-Heyrattin managed the side but in 2006 he decided to take the reigns at Thurrock FC so his brother sold the club.

For the next few seasons a succession of managers and owners came and went at the club as the team struggled on the pitch. The faced a further blow when the landlords at Wadham Lodge put the rent up to an unaffordable amount during the summer of 2008, meaning Forest moving out to share Cricklefield Stadium with Ilford FC and a local athletics club.

Two photos of Forest's shared Cricklefield Stadium home until 2013

It looked for a time in October 2010 that further improvements to Wadham Lodge would prompt a return to the clubs' traditional home, but nothing became of it.

However, the news that all at Forest hoped for came in July 2013 as an agreement was signed for the club to return to Wadham Lodge.

Waltham Forest FC will play in the Isthmian League Division One North for the 2013-14 season.

My visits

Leyton Pennant 0 Uxbridge 1 (Saturday 22nd April 2000) Isthmian League Division One (att: approx 80)

I took a tube ride from the centre of London up to Walthamstow Central, with several Spurs fans who were on their way to their home match with Wimbledon. I walked through the busy market area and caught the bus up to Wadham Lodge.

There were several football pitches in the complex as well an all weather court, a bowling green and a changing room block with a clubhouse upstairs near to the entrance to Pennant's enclosed arena. I had a couple of pre match beers and read my programme, containing some intersting words regarding which club held the history of Leyton FC, before entering the ground.

Wadham Lodge was a neat enough venue with low covers behind each end of the ground and a seated stand along the touchline by the clubhouse. The rest of the ground consisted of flat open hard and grass standing. A nice and rare touch for a club at that level was a small club shop near the turnstiles.

The visitors from Middlesex had a sprinkling of fans in the low crowd who enjoyed their half time refreshments. Their day was made when Uxbridge won one nil against a hard trying but ineffective home side, who would end the season bottom of the table.

I departed back down Kitchener Road and Brookscroft Road, but instead of waiting for a bus back to Walthamstow I headed the other way near to Walthamstow Stadium, where I took a bus to Blackhorse Road. I caught the North London line back to West Hampstead to avoid the busy city centre. It took a bit longer but it was far more interesting, plus I built up a thirst by the time I got back to Willesden Green!

Wednesday 26th September 2007

I was out and about in North Est London and Essex on a marathon days groundhop catching up on the grounds that I didnt have photos for. Wadham Lodge was to be my twelth and final call.

I arrived on the bus from my last call, Leyton FC only to find the gates to the complex locked. I walked all the way around the surrounding roads looking for an alternative entrance to no avail. I'd got all the way to the end of Garner Road and onto the North Circular Road where I'd just about given up.

Then I saw a gap in the fence where some young locals had taken advantage of to play in the goalmouths of one of the outer pitches. I think they were a bit concerned to see a stranger coming through the bushes and approaching them, but they needn't have worried!

The ground was padlocked, but the fences were low enough to enable me a decent view to take my snaps. I headed home, with plenty of aching limbs for a nice lie down and a much needed meal!

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