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

Monday, November 7, 2011

Windsor





Windsor FC from the beautiful town twenty miles west of London were formed in 2011 after the old club, Windsor & Eton FC folded on the 2nd February 2011 due to large debts.

Windsor & Eton FC had been formed in 1892 following the merger of Windsor Phoenix FC and Windsor St Albans FC. In 1902 Windsor & Eton Temperance F.C. was taken over and the name shortened. The club played early matches at Windsor Recreation Ground and Balloon Meadow, which is now part of Windsor Racecourse. In 1911 the club moved to a new ground called Stag Meadow on St Leonard's Road.


The old Windsor & Eton club badge
The club had a close association with many members of nobility who held titles at the club, hence their nickname of The Royalists. Over the years they competed in the Southern, West Berks, Great Western Suburban, Athenian, Spartan, Great Western Combination, Corinthian, Metropolitan and Delphian Leagues before rejoining the Athenian League in 1963.

In 1980 they lifted the league title as well reaching the FA Vase semi final before retaining the championship the following season, which led to promotion to the Isthmian League. Within a few seasons The Royalists were in the top flight of that league as success continued. They reached the FA Cup second round in the 1983-84 season and drew at home to Harry Redknapp's AFC Bournemouth. They went to the replay at Dean Court knowing the winners had been drawn to play at home to Manchester United in the next round. Unfortunately The Cherries ended Windsor's dream.

The next fifteen years saw the club slip all the way down the Isthmian League divisions before clawing their way back up. In 2006 the club were placed in the Southern League following the restructuring of non league football. Finances were poured into the team to try and secure top flight Southern League football. The plan succeeded as promotion was won in 2010, but the overspend came back to haunt the club.













There were disputes over unpaid bonuses as it became abundently clear that money was spent that the club didn't have. The final season was blighted with continual struggles before The Royalists proud one hundred and eighteen year history ended with a third of the campaign remaining.

Plans were quickly put into place to set up a replacement club as a Social Enterprise. The lease of Stag Meadow was secured and a ballot between fans came up with the title of Windsor FC. The club were given a place in the Combined Counties League Premeir Division for the following season.

For the following 2012-13 season, chairman Keith Stott removed the playing budget and gave the players and coaching staff the choice to stay. Team boss Keith Scott and most of the team departed, with Mick Woodham being placed in charge of team affairs. 

Windsor FC will compete in the Combined Counties League Premier Division in the 2013-14 season.


My visits

Wokingham Town 0 Tring Town 0 (Friday 28th September 2001) Isthmian League Division Three (att: approx 100 at best)

Wokingham Town were a club who were really struggling after losing their much loved Finchampstead Road ground in the town and were victims of an over spending owner who promised plenty. Just eleven years previously they had finished as runners up in the Isthmian League, but were now in the bottom division and without a home ground and having to play at Stag Meadow.

I went by train on a pleasant late summers evening after work and enjoyed sitting at a riverside pub reading the London Standard before setting off for the ground. I managed to get lost on the way, before a local put me right. The clubhouse was good, as was the ground which looked to have had a recent makeover.

I had a chat with a Town fan who was quite jolly to say what his club had been through when I asked about their chances of getting a new ground back in Wokingham.













Stag Meadow had an old fashioned Main Stand on the half way line with new tip up seats and open terracing either side. A new terracotta track divided this side from the lush pitch. There was a few rows of open terracing either side with the clubhouse, offices and changing rooms standing towards the Park End. Both the Park and Town Ends behind the goals had open terracing. The far Enclosure had a low roof running virtually the full length of the pitch with shallow terracing.

The game was pretty unremarkable, but at least the Main Stand offered me a good view. I walked back to the station, which took a lot less time than the way there!

Windsor 2 Camberley Town 0 (Monday 24th October 2011) Combined Counties Premier Division (att: 328)





I hadn't really intended going to a game, but I had a siesta after early shift at work and when I awoke I felt in good form and the sun was shining. It was far too nice to stay indoors. I looked at my Non League Paper and spotted the fixture at Stag Meadow, so I got myself organised and headed for Paddington.

I was a little early for the fast train to Slough so I enjoyed a fine pint of Chiswick Bitter in the Mad Bishop and Bear, which I've always thought to be one of the better station pubs I'd encountered. It was full of business folk ful, of their own importance playing with their electronic devices, but you can't have everything!













The train was packed so it was standing only for many of us. We did get an apology that there weren't the regular amount of carraiges available, which was nice. The connection to Windsor & Eton Central was waiting for us on arrival. Within minutes I was alighting in the wonderful old rejuvinated Victorian station. I'd had many pleasurable visits to the town over the years in good company, and it was lovely to be back.

I set off walking up the gradual hill along Peascod Street which led to the very long St Leonard's Road. It took me just under twenty minutes to arrive at the ground, by passing several inviting pubs and the barracks of the Household Cavalry on the way.

I had a feeling I'd read about this fixture being replayed as the original match had been abandoned owing to a floodlight failure, and if it was that particular game admission was to be free. My mind wasn't playing tricks. I got my cash out at the turnstile but was told that there was no charge. I was more than happy to part with £2 for a decent enough programme. I was amazed no-one was selling raffle tickets to take advantage of the potentially large crowd.













Stag Meadow didn't seem any different than on my last visit. There looked to be an excellent programme and club shop, but I headed straight for the clubhouse. Although there were no handpumps I was delighted to see beers in bottles from the local Windsor & Eton Brewery for sale. I wish more clubs would take note of this simple but welcome provision, especially if it promotes local produce.

I went out and had a walk around the ground to the far end and purchased a burger from Scotty's Snack Bar. I wondered if it was named as a tribute to Windsor's manager Keith Scott who'd enjoyed a fine playing career with Wycombe Wanderers, Reading, Swindon Town and Scarborough amongst his clubs. Another former top flight player Darren Barnard was in charge of the opponents from Camberley.

It had only been around ten months since I saw Windsor & Eton put in an excellent display to draw 0-0 at Cambridge City and ruin my fixed odds coupon in the process in the Southern League Premier Division. I was intrigued to see what the current team was like. They certainly wouldn't be able to blame the pitch, which looked like a snooker table. Reading the programme, it would appear that the biggest worry was whether the floodlights would work properly! Stag Meadow is certainly the ground to be at for anyone who enjoys plane spotting, with a flight going overhead every minute or so.

The first half was awful to be frank. I even considered asking for a refund! I'd sat in the Main Stand for a few minutes but the young kids enjoying the free admission quickly got on my nerves, so I walked around to the far side of the pitch. At was perfect timing as the match changing incident took place right in front of me.

Camberley's number 11, slid in for a tackle and was slightly late. The Windsor number 7 was caught. It wasn't a high challenge, certainly not two footed and not malicious. The players, led by the home team all went berserk. The 'injured' player rolled around as though he'd been shot. A sensible older fan shouted for everyone to calm down. The referee took a few seconds and then produced a red card. Some fans around me thought it was justified, but the older ones didn't. It seemed to me that because there have been lots of instant dismissals of late on the TV, the referee took his lead from that as well as the reaction of those involved. Within a few seconds the home player was gambolling around like a spring lamb. I offered him my feedback!

Windsor looked a different side in the second half, albeit with a man advantage and were soon two nil up. Camberley tried to play the better football, whereas the home side were more than direct. They were certainly in need of finishing practise. The referee looked a typical young official of the day. He knew all the laws, but not the game.

The rain started to fall in the second half. I left a couple of minutes before full time so I could catch the 9.50 train back to Slough, and this is where a decent night out pushed its luck.

There were two trains scheduled to arrive at Paddington at the same time. One was non stopping but set off a little later than the local service, so I decided to wait. My train was cancelled without any explaination. It meant waiting for a further thirty minutes for a stopping service, which then ran ten minutes late. To confound my joy a large group of menacing looking black youths got on board, caused a racket but thankfully commandeered the first class compartment. I eventually got home just after midnight.













I'd had a cheaper evening than usual, but the sending off left a nasty taste in my mouth, which was a shame as Windsor is a lovely place and the football club have plenty going for it. I'd still recommend it to anyone, but preferably on a sunny Saturday when not in a rush to go home!

1 comment:

  1. Some other notable Windsor & Eton Games in the early 1980's included several home friendlies with Arsenal 1st team! including one with Charlie Nicolas I recall. Imagine that now a tiny club hosting Arsenal with mimimal preparation and I recall pay on the gate! Also Windsor & Eton played Red Star Belgrade at the time a seriously massive European Club! Story I heard, and I like to think is true? was RSB was staying in a hotel in Windsor in the week and someone from W&E FC offered them a game of football on Sunday morning! Local paper covered it on Friday and a huge crowd turned up. I was in early teens but it was such a good time it has formed football memories for life. I am from Windsor so am pleased go hear a new team has formed, David Oxford

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