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

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Burton Albion

Burton Albion FC are a football club from the midlands brewery town of Burton-upon-Trent who were formed in 1950. Before Albion were formed several other clubs: Burton Swifts FC, Burton Town FC, Burton United FC and Burton Wanderers FC all represented the town. All went to the wall because they struggled financially, partly because the main sport in the area was traditionally Rugby Union.

Swifts existed between 1871 and 1901, playing their matches at Peel Croft. The club were members of the Football League 1892 until their demise. United took over their ground and place in the League until they were not re-elected in 1907. United were formed as a merger between Burton Wanderers and Burton Swifts. Wanderers were also members of the Football League from 1896 until 1901, which meant a town with a population of around 60,000 had two League clubs. Peel Croft went on to become the home of Burton Rugby Club.

The town had no senior club from the demise of Burton Town who were not revived after World War Two, until 1950 when Albion were formed. The new club started out life at the Lloyd's Foundry ground on Wellington Street, but they soon outgrew the venue as they were admitted into the Southern League after originally competing in the Birmingham & District League. 'The Brewers' new ground on the edge of town was called Eton Park and was located off Derby Road. It was opened on the 20th September 1958.

Albion had spells in the various divisions of the Southern League over the years. In 1975 they reached the FA Trophy semi finals where they lost out to Matlock Town. In 1979 the club moved to the Northern Premier League because of their geographical location. In the mid 1980's Neil Warnock took his first managerial job at Eton Park before he moved to Scarborough. In 1987 Albion reached Wembley for the FA Trophy final. The match against Kidderminster Harriers finished level before Harriers won the replay at The Hawthorns.

From 1987 until 2001 The Brewers tried their luck in the Southern League before rejoining the Northern Premier League. By then Nigel Clough had been installed as player manager from 1998. The gradually turned the fortunes around on the pitch and transformed the club along with Chairman Ben Robinson. They had finished Southern League runners up in 2000 and 2001 before lifting the Northern Premier League title in 2002 as well as reaching the FA Trophy semi finals.

As a reward Albion became members of the Football Conference. The Trophy semis were reached once again in 2005 in the season the club said goodbye to Eton Park. Land opposite on Princess Way which was formerly home to the Pirelli UK Tyres Ltd Sports & Social Club was donated by the Pirelli company in return for naming rights to the stadium. The Pirelli Stadium opened on Saturday 16th July 2005 with a friendly against Chester City. Houses were built on the old site of Eton Park, with one new road been named Clough Drive.

The first season at the Pirelli saw a visit from Manchester United in the FA Cup Third Round. Albion scraped out a scoreless draw and a replay once again in front of a live TV audience as United went through five nil. 11,000 fans travelled to the game from Burton. In the 2007-08 season Clough and his team reached the Conference play offs where they lost out to Cambridge United. The following season was to be one of glory.

Albion went a mammoth nineteen points clear of the chasing pack when Nigel Clough departed to follow in his father's footsteps becoming manager of Derby County. Roy McFarland took over as points were dropped and teams gained rapidly. Burton Albion brought League football back to the town after a gap of over a hundred years despite losing their final game at Torquay United. Fortunately for them second placed Cambridge United could only draw with Altrincham, so the title was secured.

Paul Peschisolido the former top flight and Canadian international striker was appointed the new manager to take Albion into their first League season. The club consolidated their position and reached the fourth round of the FA Cup in 2011 after Middlesbrough were sent packing in round three at The Pirelli.

Peschisolido was dismissed towards the end of the 2011-12 season, which had seen a terrible run of form lead to the threat of relegation. Gary Rowett took over and led the side to the play offs, where they were defeated in the semi final by Bradford City. 

Burton Albion FC will compete in Football League Two in the 2013-14 season.

My visits

September 2007

Scarborough were playing away to Hereford United but rather than heading straight to the game, our car set out early in the morning and did some groundhopping on the way. Doomie drove as usual and my fellow passengers were Crusher and Mick Young.

Eton Park was our first port of call. We had been past it several times in the past as we flew down the A38, but this time we pulled in. Crusher had been the previous season in a non league cup and said the locals were very partisan, or words to that effect!

The ground was alright, but nothing startling. A raised Main Stand stood down one side with open standing either side. Opposite was a low covered enclosure. The near end had a small cover over the centre section with open standing around it. The far end had a bit of terracing at the front with a shallow grass bank behind.

We headed off down the A38 on towards Villa Park.

Burton Albion 1 Scarborough 1 (Saturday 17th August 2002) Football Conference (att: 1,821)

I was off work for the day and it was the opening day of the season. Even more important to Brewers fans, it was their club's first ever game in the Conference. Hope was high amongst Seadogs as Russell Slade had made many promising pre season signings and the talk was that the team would not be far away from honours come the end of the season.

I travelled up on a scorching morning from St Pancras to Derby where I changed trains to Burton. Several other Seadogs were also on the train and the talk was also about Malcolm Reynolds pronouncing that Boro were looking to move to a new stadium. I was thirsty on reaching Burton so I took a taxi to the ground. The pub across the car park was called the Football Tavern, if my memory serves me correctly?

Once inside the atmosphere was fiesty. There was a large turn out of Boro fans and many local youths were imbibed and singing. I had a feeling it may be an interesting afternoon.

There was no planned segregation as such, but Boro fans were congregated at the far end. The ground had changed since my previous visit. The Main Stand had been extended and the far end had been properly terraced, albeit to a smaller scale with a roof added.

Once we were at the far end the locals also decided to come round. The bouncers from the pub also doubled up as stewards as a few punches were being thrown. The bouncers/stewards had no idea in crowd control apart from how to throw drunks out of a pub. This led to much anger as they seemed to turn on the visiting Seadogs in the vicinity. It was pretty poor stuff.

The atmosphere was not helped when Karl Rose put Boro ahead. Unfortunately Albion equalised and the game ended equal, which was a disappointment to the travelling fans. At full time we were kept in and escorted out down a smart residential street behind where we were stood. I didn't bother with the pub by the ground and headed back into town, stopping for a quick pint to see the final scores.

It was still very hot and the air conditioning had failed on my train back to London. I was not in the best of moods, but I claimed my fare back later. I also emailed Albion about the behaviour of their fans and lack of stewarding. I got an apology from Chairman Robinson, and was asked to phone him. I tried several times, but never got through. He was obviously a busy man!

Burton Albion 2 Scarborough 3 (Monday 30th August 2004) Football Conference (att: 1,306)

Despite saying I wouldn't bother returning to Burton after the previous fiasco, I relented a couple of years later. I booked cheap train tickets and travelled with Simon Keane and had a really good day out, having plenty of beer on the way. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Again there was a good number of visiting fans present and we were in very good spirits as Boro went three up within ten minutes as Wayne Gill and Neil Redfearn netted past the veteran keeper Kevin Poole along with the kindly assistance of an own goal. In true Boro style they didn't go from that and allowed Albion back into the game. In the end we were glad to hear the final whistle.

Burton Albion 2 Scarborough 1 (Saturday 3rd September 2005) Football Conference (att: 1,336)

I was looking forward to this game as it was one of the first competitive fixtures at the brand new Pirelli Stadium. The kick off had been brought forward as Wales were entertaining England in a World Cup Qualifier that afternoon. My advanced train tickets left me pretty pushed for time.

I had gone via Birmingham to save money, but I needed to get a taxi to the stadium if I was to have a pre match pint. The outside of the Pirelli Stadium was still pretty rugged and been developed. They had done a pretty amazing job as when I looked at the site a year earlier there had been nothing there.

I met with Carl Ellis and his travelling pals from Malton. Each stand had separate entrances and its own bar and snack bar behind it. I was impressed by that. Once inside the ground was as ideal as I'd seen as a new build at that level. Three sides had covered terraces and the fourth was all seated with a high back wall, presumably to allow for an extension. The corners were open to allow ventilation to the pristine pitch.

Boro went one down, but got back into it with a Brian Wake goal. It was not to last as the home side took the honours with Aaron Webster outstanding in the win.

Carl and I walked back into the town centre on a mission. Because we had pre booked our trains for what we thought would be an afternoon kick off, we had plenty of time to fill in, but we came up with a good idea.

Several years earlier we had stopped in Burton on the way home from a game at Shrewsbury. We decided it would be only right to do our own 'phoenix from the flames' and try to retrace our footsteps. It was a messy job, but someone had to do it! In fairness we did pretty well as little bits kept coming back to us. We entered a posh new place that wasn't really our scene but it turned out to be a good move. The bloke who ran it was a former Wealdstone player who loved what we were doing. He helped with some info and generally enjoyed himself. His missus didn't look massively impressed! When I told him where I lived he regaled us with tales of team nights out and how he was banned from the Spotted Dog in Willesden. I really didn't think that was possible.

We did our best to travel back in time. Several pubs were gone since our big night out, but we left no stone unturned in our investigations!

The pictures on this page have been taken from books and the internet. I visited in my pre camera days. I hope to be back for a League match at the Pirelli in the future to one day complete the 92.


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