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

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hanworth Villa

Hanworth Villa FC, who were formed in 1976 following a managerial disagreement at another long established Hanworth club, are a non league football club from Middlesex near to Heathrow Airport.

Villa started life in local league football before moving to the Middlesex County Senior League. They led a nomadic existence until moving into Rectory Meadow in 1997 converting the former pavilion into a clubhouse, with the ground being known locally as 'The Ranch'.

The league title was lifted in 2003. This feat was repeated in 2005 at which point 'The Villans' joined the Combined Counties League. By 2008 they had lifted two Challenge Cups and were only denied promotion as their facilities were deemed to be insufficient. Funds were raised so that a stand was erected and floodlights installed, leading to promotion to the Premier Division in 2009.

During the 2011-12 season Hanworth reached the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round before going down 3-2 away to AFC Totton.

Hanworth Villa FC will play in the Combined Counties League Premier Division during the 2013-14 season.

My visit

Hanworth Villa 5 Sandhurst Town 0 (Monday 7th May 2012) Southern Combination Cup Final (att: approx 250)

I was on my annual learning and development course with London Underground on this Bank Holiday Monday. I had forgotten all about it having just returned from a lovely week off in Scarborough until I did my twelve hour shift the previous day, and had intended to attend other games as I was due to finish at 1.15pm.

As it turned out our course was to finish early for the day as we forwent a meal break. We were dispersed from South Kensington station and as I had my trusty Non League Paper in hand I had to decide between the promotion play off between AFC Hornchurch and Lowestoft Town or a visit to Hanworth, which was a tough place to get to midweek on public transport and it had the additional attraction of being a new ground.

My mind was made up as I took the Piccadilly line to East Hounslow before boarding the 111 bus, which thankfully arrived within minutes. The beauty of my IPhone was once again evident as I could follow the bus's route on the map app and get off at the appropriate place, assisted by the new fangled and much appreciated display on the bus telling customers the name of the next stop. I alighted at the Bear Road Flyover stop on Hounslow Road and then walked up Park Road alongside the A3 to the car park and then the ground entrance.

I paid £6 admission plus an extra £1.50 for a decent programme and went inside 'The Ranch' to take my place in a good crowd for the final. The ground was slowly being developed from just a basic main pitch with railings around it in the past. The clubhouse and changing rooms stood back from the pitch. A temporary marquee had been erected in front of the club. At the other side of the players entrance to the pitch was a modern seated stand and further along a small standing cover, which was of the same sort of structure. The rest of the ground was hemmed in with a perimeter fence dividing the main ground from other pitches. The A3 end of the ground had trees near to the pitch and what looked like a public footpath running through it. What with the lack of a solid perimeter fence and this, Villa seemed to rely on supporters 'playing the game' and not watching for free.

I was a little confused as the sides walked out for the obligatory handshakes as one side were in all purple and the other in all yellow. I knew Villa's traditional kit was red and white stripes with black shorts. I then read that they wore the all purple kit in recognition of their sponsors, The Purple Lounge. The colours certainly stood out!

The game started with a bang when the home side were awarded a free kick around thirty yards from goal. Steve Loveridge's attempt squirmed under the body of 'The Fizzers' hapless keeper to give Villa the lead. Sandhurst fought back and created plenty of problems for Hanworth, but could not convert anything. Their defence on the other hand didn't deal too well with some good movement and intelligent interplay. Twice they were undone by goals from Lawrie Shennan, the first of which looking like it could well have been offside.

I wandered around the ground to take in different views. The marquee had an open front and made a good area for drinkers to view the game. The club's presentation evening was taking place after the game so presumably it had been erected for this? I had a burger and a coffee for £4 from inside the clubhouse, which hit the spot - especially the deeply fried onions!

Sandhurst, to their credit, kept going after the break. Apart from the goals they were the better side for long periods. They really did need to sort their defence out though. It creaked on regular occurrences, before Anthony Oaks added the fourth ten minutes after the break. Fifteen minutes from time James Woods wrapped up the scoring. It was a cruel outcome for the visitors from Berkshire, but it was easy to see how Hanworth had a good FA Cup run that season. They were steady at the back and clinical up front.

I left before the presentations and started out on what would be a marathon trip home via Hampton, Kingston, Richmond and Hammersmith before arriving home at gone 7pm. I was in no rush and I'd had a good unexpected afternoon out. I couldn't complain at that.

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