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

Monday, October 22, 2012


Aylesbury FC is a non league football club from the county town of Buckinghamshire, who were originally formed as Stocklake FC in 1930, who were formed by the workers of the Negretti and Zambra company, playing in local league football. The club played on the Stocklake Industrial Estate and became members of the Chiltern League in 1988.

Another local club Belgrave FC began life in 1983 by Jim Sullivan of Belgrave Road for his two sons along with his neighbours. By 1990 the club consisted of five youth teams and six years later it added two senior sides, all playing in local competition.

Both clubs merged to form Haywood United FC for the 2000-01 season after Haywood Way, where their ground was located. The club joined the Spartan South Midlands League and continued to develop by installing floodlights and gradually improve their home. Promotion to the leagues Premier Division was achieved at the end of the 2003-04 season.

At the start of the 2005-06 season the club changed their name to Aylesbury Vale FC to enhance their identity within the town and further afield. At the end of the 2008-09 season the club changed to Aylesbury FC with the aim of promotion and ground improvements. A proposed merger with Aylesbury United fell through.

The team reached the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round where they lost out to Wealdstone in front of a record crowd of 682 at Haywood Way. Joy was to follow at the end of the season as the Spartan South Midlands League title was lifted with promotion to the Southern League as a reward.

After a good debut season in their new surroundings, 'The Moles' struggled the following campaign. Former Football League striker Craig Faulconbridge was appointed as player manager for the 2012-13 season.

Faulconbridge departed in October 2013 to be replaced by Steve Bateman, who led the team to the play-offs in 2014-15 where the Moles lost 2-1 to Bedworth United in the semi-finals. Bateman resigned after an eighth place finish the following season.

Aylesbury appointed join-managers Danny Gordon and Gareth Risbridger who remained in place until January 2017 when they were succeeded by Davis Haule, who's team avoided relegation at the end of the 2016-17 campaign.

Aylesbury FC will compete in the Southern League Division One East for the 2017-18 season.

My visits

Sunday 14th October 2012

It was a beautiful autumnul day and I was off work. I was suffering with back ache, but determined not to waste such good weather. A scan at the fixtures showed that Aylesbury United were at their shared home at Leighton Town in the FA Vase. I decided that as well as wanting to see their derelict Buckingham Road stadium, I could also have a good bracing walk and visit Aylesbury as well.

After an elongated train ride when I later found out that I'd paid more and taken more time than I really needed to, I got out at Aylesbury station and set out on a walk of around two miles to Haywood Way. It took me on busy dual carraigeways, which reminded me older versions of Crawley or Stevenage. 

The amount of traffic shocked me. I was of an age to remember when the local shop would close at midday on a Sunday and it was a day of rest. Now everybody was heading to retail estates on the edges of towns. I was not convinced it was an improvement.

Eventually I found Jackson Road and a few minutes later I was along the small cul-de-sac that was Haywood Close with the clubhouse at the end. Lots of junior players were coming out of the ground after collecting their gear following matches of their own. The gate being open gave me all the opportunity I required to pop inside for a look.

The ground was relatively basic with a seated stand in front of the clubhouse and a covered standing area at the near end. The rest of the ground consisted of flat open standing. There was room between the fence keeping the fans in and the actual metal tailed perimeter if demand or the money became available.

My timing was sublime as no sooner had I left and was taking my clubhouse photos, a gent came out and locked the ground for the day. I went on my way to the former home of 'The Ducks', feeling sorry and empathising for the now homeless club watching their junior rivals becoming the towns highest ranked side.

Aylesbury P AFC Rushden & Diamonds P (Saturday 9th December 2017) Southern League Division One East

I’d looked at visiting Haywood Way for a game on several occasions. It was the last day of my week of annual leave and my first choice of Nuneaton Town against Harrogate Town had been postponed because of a frozen pitch at a sensible hour.

I spent the next ninety minutes mulling over a replacement. I wanted somewhere not too far away, but awkward to get to midweek. I was also very wary of the possibility of a postponement. I was down to Aylesbury v AFC Rushden & Diamonds or Banbury United v Royston Town.

Aylesbury won the day after their Twitter account said at 12.16 that there was no need for an inspection. I caught the tube to Harrow-on-the-Hill before taking the Chiltern train to Aylesbury Vale. It was cold and getting colder.

Fifteen minutes later I cut through a park the other side of the River Thame and behind the back of the stand before entering the clubhouse in search of a beer and to see the end of the West Ham v Chelsea game. I was alerted to what I saw.

Footballers were eating food and going on about there being no game. I whipped off my earphones and asked the bloke by the bar if the game was on? Apparently it had just been postponed by the referee as the pitch was frozen in parts.

It’s fair to say that I was pretty angry. A lady was heading to the bar from the turnstile. I asked her why it was off after the club’s previous Tweet? She claimed it was “my” manager who influenced the referee to postpone the game.

I saw three young fellas coming away from the ground and they confirmed that they were the officials. They said that they had no option with their decision. A local told me that Thame United was the nearest club. I walked away, still fuming to try and plan my journey; which can be read about here.

Some of the Twitter exchanges that followed probably didn’t do anyone much credit, but emotions were high. It is a thankless task in the winter as volunteers try and run football clubs and get games on.

Perhaps league’s and the FA should offer some kind of definitive guidance and insistence on inspections from qualified referees; putting the weather forecast for the following few hours into consideration?

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