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.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Burnham FC are a non league football club who were formed in 1878, who come from the small town of Burnham which is located around twenty five miles to the west of central London.
For nearly one hundred years 'The Blues' competed in local league football before becoming members of the Hellenic League in 1971. Six years later the club made the switch to the Athenian League, where they performed consistently near to the top of the table. In 1978 they got to the last eight of the FA Vase and then in 1983 they went out at the semi final stage against the eventual winners Halesowen Town.
The following year they once again switched competition to join the London Spartan League, becoming champions at the first attempt. With Hillingdon FC struggling at the time, they merged with The Blues and became known as Burnham & Hillingdon FC and taking Hillingdon's place in the Southern League.
In 1987 the club reverted to becoming Burnham FC while performances in the higher league dipped. In 1995 they were relegated back to the Hellenic League where they became one of the top performers. In 1999 the club regained their place in the Southern League. In their first season back they reached the FA Trophy Fourth Round before going out to Scarborough after a replay.
Much work was carried on the clubs home ground of The Gore, which was once shared with Burnham Cricket Club. Fomer England international cricketer and Test Match umpire Ian 'Gunner' Gould was the club Chairman for a short spell around this period. The Blues reached the semi final of the end of season play offs in 2007 and 2010, but were denied promotion on both occasions.
Under the managership of Martin Stone, Burnham were crowned champions of the Southern League Division One Central in 2012-13. This led to promotion to the Premier Division, which was the highest level that the club had ever achieved.
Burnham FC will compete in the Southern League Premier Division in the 2013-14 season.
Burnham 1 Scarborough 1 (Saturday 5th February 2000) FA Trophy Fourth Round (att: 469)
I had moved to London just before Scarborough's relegation from the Football League in April 1999. The move had opened up a whole new avenue of venues to watch games at and when Boro went on a run in the Trophy I was delighted at Lord's one Monday lunchtime when the draw gave them an away draw at Burnham.
Many fellow fans were scratching their heads as to where Burnham was, let alone their playing record, but I was more than happy with the thoughts of a lie in and a relatively short journey on the train from Paddington.
The big day arrived and I met Simon Keane for a pre train livener at Paddington. We were to meet Steve Walker at Burnham station. He lived on the outskirts of Oxford at the time, so it was a short journey for him as well. He came with the explicit instructions not to drink too much from Sarah, his girlfriend of the time. Her parents were down from Scarborough and they were due to go out for a Saturday evening meal.
We wandered around trying to find a pub around midday, but there didn't seem to be much happening in the sleepy little town. We were given some directions by a local and as we approached the hostelry Guy Watson, Frazer Armitage and Dave Cammish appeared as if by magic. We had one beer in a rather soulless family pub suited more to dining before setting off again. A local pointed us in the direction of the High Street.
We were in heaven as we found three pubs to embark on a mini pub crawl before ordering taxis to the ground. We didn't realise just how close the ground was. The drivers got an easy job from us! At the ground it was quickly apparent that plenty of Seadogs had made the journey south and we outnumbered the home fans.
The Gore was a pretty basic venue. There was flat standing round all four sides, with the touchline to our left having the cricket pitch next to it. Opposite was a small seated stand. At the end by the entrance was a two storey building, which housed the changing rooms, clubhouse and a viewing balcony.
Plenty of my old pals had come down on their own mini bus. It was just like the good old days. Even better was the fact that Burnham were keen on maximising profits, so they allowed us to buy beer in plastic glasses and stand behind the goal with it. This was quite a novelty at the time to us, but an experience we would grow all too used to before the end of the decade.
Boro played pretty poorly against a limited Burnham side who played their hearts out. While the beer being freely available appealed to many, it also led to raised emotions which Boro boss Colin Addison didn't appreciate in the way of feedback as the sides trudged off after a limp first half.
Boro went ahead in the second half but the home side scored an equaliser. All the match a small gaggle of blokes stood near the clubhouse trying to wind the Boro fans up by shouting abuse and generally looking for trouble. This was not a good idea looking around at how many Seadogs were 'in ale', including Steve who seemed to have had an amnesia attack.
Sure enough when Burnham scored the abuse reached a rescendo. The reserve team, who were well behaved on the balcony celebrated as they were well entitled to. Unfortunately, a Boro fan (who will remain nameless!) thought it was them insulting us. He appeared on the balcony and a misunderstanding took place. From my recollection one of the other lads went and got him down and offered apologies on his behalf.
The game ended in a draw. Our three earlier companians hung around for a pint in the clubhouse, while Simon and I took Steve back to the station before he could try to pour any more ale in.It was the least I could have done for Sarah! Even on the way out the clowns continued to goad us. It was pointless by now as they could have saved themselves a lot of energy if they wanted to thump us, by just blowing us over.
We dispatched Steve and laughed how we'd love to be a fly on the wall at the meal, before we went to Paddington and decided to have some more beers. The other three were with us within the hour. I can't remember too much what went on, but looking at the photos and going by experience, we'd have talked cobblers about politics, football and pubs.
It was a lively day out to say the least. Boro won the replay six nil!
Tuesday 22nd May 2012
I woke after completing my set of seven night shifts on a beautiful lunchtime. My destination was to be the Madejski Stadium for the Reading Senior Cup Final that evening, but on route I decided it would be good to retrace my footsteps from over a decade previously and see the ground improvements at The Gore.
I got off the train from Paddington and set off on a lot longer walk than I remembered. The modern family pub had been turned into a Tesco store. The walk near the old village was very pleasant with a nice green opposite High Street. After around fourty minutes I arrived at the stadium to find bigger changes than I could have imagined.
The old area behind the goal was now the car park for the ground, conference centre and gym which formed part of the new Main Stand. The clubhouse was gone. The ground was surrounded by a modern metal grey high fence. Fortunately the entrance gate was open in the near corner. The previous small seated stand was now for standing spectators. There was not too much room behind the goals. The main feature though was the new stand. It was a very impressive building with a few rows of seats in front of the facilities with a roof finishing it off.
I left the ground and walked back towards the village. I had seen a bus stop and I investigated on the way back. I love walking, but it was a long way back. A bus was due for Brackley via Maidenhead. For a short while I considered staying on to the end of the route and sneaking in an extra venue, but instead I got out after a lovely ride to the attractive town of Maidenhead in time for a train to Reading.
Burnham had certainly done well with The Gore. I just wished it was a bit nearer the station!