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, July 15, 2012

Holmer Green

Holmer Green FC is a non league football club from the large village a few miles north east of High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. The club spent much of their existence since their formation in 1908 in local league football around Chesham and Wycombe until the village grew as did the club.

In 1984 'The Greens' became founder members of the Chiltonian League, going on to be crowned league champions of three occasions. Eleven years later the club progressed into the South Midlands League. When that league merged with the Spartan League in 1997, Green were founder members, starting in the second tier.

The club were promoted in the first season to the Premier Division as floodlights were installed at Airedale Park. In 2009 they were relegated, but bounced back at the first time of asking.

Holmer Green FC will compete in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division in the 2015-16 season.

My visits

Thursday 28th June 2012

I had a day off work and the sun was amazingly shining, in what had been the wettest June on record. I had intended to revisit Adams Park in Wycombe to update my photos for some time and after studying a map and various timetables, I realised I could visit a club who I would struggle to fit in for a midweek match.

I caught a couple of tubes and then took a Chiltern line train from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Amersham, where I boarded the number four Carousel service and purchased a day ticket for a very reasonable £5.40. The ride took me through countryside before I got out at the village green of Holmer Green. After about ten minutes and a walk along Beech Tree Road I entered the car park of Holmer Green Sports Association. Airedale Park also catered for several other sports as well as football.

The ground had temporary high metal fences around it, but either vandals or the weather had blown some over. This was lucky for me as it allowed me access to take some photos. It was apparent that on matchdays players changed in the complex's main building and walked the fifty metres or so along a fenced path to the pitch. Spectator access was only allowed on three sides. The fourth backed on to practice and junior pitches with just the dug outs for company. The ground was a mixture of open grass and hard standing, apart from a nice little stand with bench seating on the Watchet Lane side and a cover at the Clubhouse End on top of a small bank. Three sides were bordered by attractive trees.

I left the ground, having been impressed with the setting and set off down the lane, which led into Sawpit Hill on the edge of the adjoining Wycombe suburb of Hazlemere. I had got my timings right as the next bus arrived within a few minutes to take me to Wycombe Bus Station, ready for my next ride to Adams Park.

Holmer Green 1 Hertford Town 1 (Tuesday 27th August 2013) Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division (att: 53)

I was on early shift at work and with the weather still glorious, I decided a night out at the football was definitely in order. Most leagues had fulfilled fixtures on the previous days Bank Holiday, but the SSML had a full list to choose from. I decided on Holmer Green while the nights were still light before kick off, as I could imagine it being a bit bleak in the depths of winter.

After a siesta I took a pleasant ride into Metroland courtesy of the tube and then a bus dropped me in the tidy village of Holmer Green. I was too late to go to the clubhouse, so I paid my fiver, which included a basic programme and sat behind the goal on the bank when Sussex Hopper Luke of Non League Matters fame  (http://nonleaguematters.co.uk/forum/gforum.cgi?) and Richard appeared to tell me about the beer festival in the bar.

Hertford were on a bit of a run in recent games, but they went 1-0 down after fifteen minutes, when a slip from a defender allowed the impressive Ryan Forbes in to score. For the rest of the half Hertford were the better team having a couple of one on ones but twice the Holmer keeper Henry Craven made great saves.

I treated myself to a couple of rapid pints during the break, with the Oakham Brewery Citra easily outscoring the Rebellion Gold. Both offered excellent value at £2. The beers were what were left from the village beer festival from the weekend. It was a nice surprise, but I wish I’d know in advance to take real advantage! It was nice to note Rebellion was the usual beer on tap at the club. I also had probably the smallest hot dog I've had at a game, but it was tasty and acted as a perfect sponge after the ale.

After the interval Holmer were fairly organised in stopping Hertford creating too many clear cut chance despite pressing hard. The visitors did hit the bar around the hour mark with an excellent header.

You could sense a goal coming and after a prolonged onslaught former Step Four goalie, now Hertford's goal scoring skipper Anthony Anstead levelled things up with just six minutes remaining. I'd grown a bit of a soft spot for Hertford after a smashing visit there a few weeks earlier, so I was happy with this as I stood behind the same goal as several Blues fans.

The splendidly named Airedale Park was neatly kept. It was nice to see signs up in the dug outs discouraging swearing. It seemed to work as the use of industrial language was kept to an occasional frustrated outburst.

The bus got me back to Wycombe station a few minutes early enabling me to catch the 10.04 to Wembley Stadium. Like a big kid I had to walk back up Wembley Way to the tube. It's the strangest thing, that when I was actually a youngster I dreamed of that walk, and now I did it pretty regularly; all within walking distance of home.

I was back in my flat in Kingsbury at just gone 11pm, looking forward to my forthcoming trip to Scarborough and the vital Yorkshire v Durham county cricket encounter.

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