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

London

September 2015

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chesterfield



Chesterfield FC is a football club from the market town of the same name in Derbyshire, located around twenty miles south of Sheffield. he current incarnation of the club was formed in 1919, but football and links to the club go back much earlier.

The first Chesterfield FC, who were an offshoot of Chesterfield Cricket club was believed to have been formed in 1866. They moved into the Recreation Ground at Saltergate four years later, but the club lasted just ten years. 

Another club of the same name began in 1884, before changing its name to Chesterfield Town shortly after. They were members of the Midland League and in the 1892-93 season they wore dark blue shirts with the Union Jack emblazoned across the front. 



After winning the league title in 1896, Town were accepted into the Football League for the 1899-1900 season. In 1909 they were demoted back to the Midland League after finishing bottom of the table for three successive seasons. In 1915 the club entered voluntary liquidation, although a club of the same name was formed and lasted for two years playing wartime football.

In 1919 the local council formed a club called Chesterfield Municipal FC to fill the gap left void by the lack of a senior club in the town. They won the Midland League at the first attempt, but the FA and Football League voiced opposition to a club run by a council. As a consequence the club became independent and changed its name to Chesterfield FC in 1920.



A year later 'The Spireites' as the club would be later nicknamed, became founder members of Football League Division Three North. They won the division in 1931 and were promoted, but their spell in Division Two lasted just two seasons. They were once again promoted to Division Two as champions in 1936, where they remained until 1951.

In 1958 Chesterfield were placed in Division Three after League re-organisation. Future England legend Gordon Banks made his debut for the club before being sold to Leicester City at the end of the season for £7,000. Relegation to Division Four followed in 1961, with the club remaining there until 1970.



The club won the Anglo Scottish Cup in 1981, after dumping out Rangers in the semi final. However, three years later they were relegated, before winning promotion back to Division three at the first attempt. In 1985 the club hit severe financial problems, but were bailed out by the council who bought their training ground. 

In 1989 Chesterfield were relegated once again and it wasn't until the arrival of John Duncan as manager in 1993 that prospects brightened. He took the side up via a win in the Play Off Final at Wembley in 1995 over Bury. The 1996-97 season saw the team, featuring a young Kevin Davies embarked on a remarkable FA Cup run. Nottingham Forest were one of their victims as they reached a memorable semi final against Middlesbrough.



The team were denied a certain goal at Old Trafford when the ball was clearly over the line. Middlesbrough fought back to draw 3-3 before ending the dreams in the Hillsborough replay.

To see highlights of the remarkable drawn game, click here:



In 2000, with the team once again finding itself in the bottom tier, the club was sold by unpopular owner Norton Lea to a twenty nine year old entrepreneur called Darren Brown who already owned both the ice hockey and basketball clubs in Sheffield. 

By March 2001 Brown was gone facing fraud charges with the club having been deducted points for financial irregularities. Brown was later sentenced to four years in prison for charges including false accounting, furnishing false information and theft. In the meantime ownership was passed onto a supporters group who couldn't prevent the club having to enter into administration as the team somehow won promotion.



In 2007 Chesterfield once again found themselves in the League's bottom tier. At the end of the 2009-10 season the club left the homely but outdated Saltergate to move to a new stadium on Sheffield Road which had formerly been a glassworks. The new stadium was originally called the B2Net Stadium in a naming rights deal.

In May 2011 the club were crowned League Two champions. The following season saw The Spireites lift the Football League Trophy at Wembley after defeating Swindon Town. However, their cup progress didn't transform into league form, as they were relegated once more at the end of the 2011-12 season. Paul Cook was appointed as manager in October 2012.



The 2013-14 campaign saw Chesterfield win promotion as League Two champions, before reaching the play-offs in 2014-15 before Preston North End deflated any dreams of promotion in the semi-finals.

Cook departed for Portsmouth in the summer of 2015, to be replaced for a short spell by Dean Saunders. Former favourite Danny Wilson was appointed as team manager in November 2015. 

The club hit crisis point a year later as chairman and major investor Dave Allen resigned from the club. Four further directors also left the club within a few days. Wilson was replaced by Gary Caldwell in January 2017 as the team ended the season in bottom place and were relegated back to the league's bottom tier.

Chesterfield FC will play in Football League Two in the 2017-18 season.


My visits

Chesterfield 3 Cardiff City 4 (Friday 20th December 1985) Division Three (att: 1,773)



I attended this game in a car with some pals driven by Cardiff supporting pal Gary Griffiths to get a new ground in. As away fans we were placed in the end section of the Main Stand as there weren't enough in attendance to justify opening the terracing. This suited us fine on a damp and cool evening.

Saltergate really was old fashioned, but I liked it. The Main Stand was a raised seating deck with a disused old terrace in front. The Kop or Saltergate End was to our left and consisted of a covered terrace. Opposite was the Compton Street Pop Side. This was a long covered terracing with a TV gantry perched over the half way line. Finally the disused Cross Street End was an open low bank of terracing backed by a castellated wall.



The City fans were in joyous mood as it looked as though their bitter rivals Swansea City were about to go to the wall. They were less happy when their side went 3-1 down in the second half. I was happy enough. The atmosphere was vibrant and the pies lovely. We used the empty foil as ashtrays! 



There was to be a huge fightback. The Bluebirds got the game back on level terms before Mark Farrington scored an absolute screaming volley from about twenty five yards to take the spoils. Our driver was most happy! We celebrated by going for drinks in nearby Staveley. I believe  may have knocked from my crumby job the following morning owing to the fan belt going on the car on the way home!

Chesterfield 0 Scarborough 1 (Saturday 12th January 1991) Division Four (att: 3,217)



I travelled to this game on a mini bus driven by Badger with some senior Seadogs after completing night shift at the Post Office. I was tired as I was overdoing things during the day, but  was also ready for a good drink. Luckily for me Pete Wilson and John Kellett were on board armed with their Good Beer Guide.



We ended up in the Derby Tup on Sheffield Road, which specialised in guest ales. Bunner, who was normally a lager drinker was fascinated as to why we waxed lyrical about real ale, so he decided to go on it with us. He regretted it later! We got to the ground full of pop, but he a few of us still went round and had a last beer in the clubhouse behind The Kop, as I'd read that away fans were welcome.



We were put down part of the Pop Side. Boro were having a decent run with George Oghani terrifying defences. To give some idea of our consumption some of us chanted the familiar "Ooo George Oghani" when the pale faced Andy Mockler scored the only goal.

I crashed out in the bus on the way back and woke to be sat next to a hitch hiker! We got back and went straight out down town, to the familiar haunts of the Opera House and Showboat. I eventually ended up in The Talbot, where my parents went for a late drink. I think they were worrried about me.

Chesterfield 0 Scarborough 1 (Saturday 13th August 1994) Division Three (att: 3,099)



This was another mini bus adventure, only by now I was the organiser. It had been agreed that different lads would take their turn at driving, so that the regulars could get out of what must have been a crap job. They really did deserve a medal. I'm just glad that they didn't film our drunken antics.

Anyway, for this opening game it was Bunner's turn. We stopped as usual for pre match beers on the way into town and then got to the ground early enough to discover the nearby pubs. Some of us used the clubhouse, but the welcome wasn't anywhere near as welcome as on our previous visit.



Boro were in a bit of turmoil just for a change after chairman John Russell had sacked popular manager Steve Wicks for a lack of financial prudence (oh the irony) and brought in former playing legend Billy Ayre. The pre season hadn't given us much hope for optimism, but Russell made the promise of big signings.

It was a sunny day as we found ourselves in the Cross Street End. Chesterfield had former York City keeper Chris Marples in their goal. He was just about as unpopular an opponent as we ever had in our League days, and as usual he got maximum abuse. The home side had a man sent off for deliberate hand ball on the line as Steve Charles converted the resulting penalty.



A group who turned out to be relations and friends of Boro full back Darren Knowles were making a real noise in the Main Stand. We left the ground in really good form, even predicting that this was going to be our season. 

I missed out on the fixed odds as the last score to come in let me down, much to the mirth of my fellow passengers. Bunner decided that the bus would be going straight back to Scarborough so we could celebrate there. I wonder how that happened?

Saturday 13th September 2008

I had been to nearby Staveley Miners Welfare to see Scarborough Athletic in action. Because my train home wasn't until 7pm I walked up to Saltergate for a last look. The gates were all locked but I had a walk around bringing back some pleasant old memories.

The ground hadn't hardly changed since my first visit, save for some structural improvements, the removal of the ugly yellow high fences and seats been bolted onto the Pop Side.

England Under 21s 1 Norway Under 21s 0 (Monday 10th September 2012) Euro 2013 Qualifier  (Att: 9,947)





Over the previous twelve months I’d been to Watford and then Middlesbrough to support Stuart Pearce’s England Under 21 charges in the quest for qualification for Euro 2013. My Dad had gone to The Riverside with me and had enjoyed it thoroughly, so when the venue was announced for the deciding game and I found I was on annual leave from work, it was a no brainer in deciding on going along.



I booked a room for us at Wetherspoon’s Portland Hotel in advance near Chesterfield Market and ordered the excellently priced tickets, which were just a tenner for me and a fiver concession for Dad. 

I travelled up by courtesy of the superb value Megabus plus, which was in reality a train from St Pancras. I booked in to the hotel and watched the Olympic and Paralympic heroes parade through the streets of London before meeting Dad and an old schoolmate Guy Watson for pre match beers in the pub below the rooms.

I was looking forward to seeing the new home of The Spireites as I had always enjoyed my visits to the pretty town, with the traditional ground leading to it being used in the excellent film The Damned United.









After our beers the three of us caught a very cheap taxi, from a very random company which dropped us outside the stadium. I immediately thought that it looked like a larger version of Chester’s Deva Stadium, but it was busy outside; partly because of the large superstores across the park. 

Guy went his own way to the stand on the far side, while we went inside to obtain just about as good a pie as I’ve had inside a ground. Mind you it ought to have been for £3! We took our seat near to the Norwegian bench with several scouts and coaches including Stan Ternent and Nigel Pearson a few rows back.




The crowd was made up of plenty of youngsters with adults, many getting their first taste of a big game. Sadly the England Band were also there, poisoning the air with their tuneless drivel. As we were in a relatively small ground, there was simply no escape from The Great Escape.
The match was very important in terms of qualification. Both sides were guaranteed a play-off place, but Norway needed to won to top the group and be seeded in the draw. Anything but defeat would do for England.

England started out well, with Jon Jo Shelvey putting himself about with great effect. He was booked for disagreeing to being penalised for a heavy challenge, but his vim and vigour was welcome in a line-up that seemed to prefer a slow build up and keeping the ball. The visitors were more pleasing on the eye by way of chasing the game. Both starting forwards had plenty of gusto.


The deadlock was broken on the stroke of half time after a defensive error let in Connor Whickham, who finished calmly. After the break Norway continued to attack. England resorted to square and backward passes. A young Norwegian sub nearly set up an equaliser with a rapid run, which opened up the home defence. 

The shot from his team mate nearly snapped the cross bar, before being cleared. We were initially unsure as to whether the ball had crossed the line. A couple of other half chances were also spurned, before England took the sting out of the last few minutes to earn a hard earned, and not totally deserved victory. My Dad and I nearly fell off our seats with laughter after Danny Rose was announced as man of the match.

At full time we headed back on foot for a couple of pints, a KFC take away and a fine malt night cap while trying to keep up with Andy Murray’s progress on the pub TV without live pictures or sound and just sub-titles to go on. Overall we’d had an excellent night out.


The next morning we checked out, read about Murray’s victory and then headed for the station for our train to London for part two of three of our sporting week; England v Ukraine at Wembley as we also kept a very close eye on the cricket scores of the day in the hope that when we attended Essex v Yorkshire later in the week, our heroes could still win promotion. 



The images of the inside of Saltergate have been taken from the internet and a text book as I didn't take any photos of my own at the time.











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