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

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sheffield




Sheffield FC are the oldest football club in the world having been formed in 1857 following a meeting at Parkfield House in the Highfield district of the city. Because there were no opponents and not yet any proper rules, the clubs members had organised games amongst themselves.



The clubs founders Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest formulated the clubs rules in 1858, which became known as Sheffield Rules, which are said to be similar to Australian Rules football of today as they played their first games at Strawberry Hall Lane Park. In 1860 Sheffield had opponents when Hallam were formed. The clubs competed the worlds oldest local derby on Boxing Day that year. 


Various grounds were being used for home games as the club didn't have one of their own. These included Newhall Athletic Ground, Old Forge, a ground near Hunters Bar on Eccleshall Road and occasionally Bramall Lane. After playing various clubs with differing rules, the game evolved upon the formation on the FA in 1863. Sheffield agreed to play under these rules from 1878. 



Three of the clubs players became England internationals around this period; Charles Clegg, John Owen and John Hudson, with Clegg going on to become chairman and president of the Football Association. In 1873 the club created history by defeating Shropshire Wanderers in the FA Cup on the toss of a coin, the only time a tie was decided in such a way.



Sheffield fell into decline following the advent of professionalism. The club became founder members of the Midland Alliance in 1892 before moving to the Yorkshire League in 1898. They suggested to the FA that a cup be introduced for amateur sides only. The FA Amateur Cup was first competed for in the 1893-94 season, with Sheffield lifting the trophy in 1904 after defeating Ilford at Bradford. 

They dropped back to local competition playing at Abbeydale Park from 1921, before rejoining the Yorkshire League in 1949, appearing in all the divisions because of several promotions and relegations. In the 1975-76 they lifted their first league honour by winning the Division Two title and reaching the FA Vase final at Wembley the same following season. After a draw in the first game, Billericay Town won the replay 2-1 at the City Ground Nottingham.



In 1982 the club were founder members of the Northern Counties East League, progressing to the Premier Division in 1989. At this time home games were played at Hillsborough Park, which led to relegation because of a lack of floodlights in 1990. This prompted a move to Owlerton Stadium, with promotion coming in 1991. 



After a spell at Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield bought The Coach and Horses Ground and pub in Dronfield 2001 to own their home ground for the first time. It had previously been the home to Norton Woodseats and Dronfield United as well as the pubs team. The club began to produce its own junior sides as well as a ladies and disability team. The ground was renamed the Bright Finance Stadium in a sponsorship deal.

In the end of the 2006-07 season Sheffield were promoted to the Northern Premier League after a runners up position in the Northern Counties East League and restructuring. 2007 was a special year for the club as they celebrated their hundred and fiftieth anniversary. In November Internazionale of Milan sent a strong side including Marco Materazzi and Mario Balotelli for a match against Sheffield at Bramall Lane in front of 18,741 fans. Pele was the guest of honour and a church service and gala dinner were staged. The club received an Order of Merit from FIFA.



In April 2008 a further game against a Ajax youth side pulled in a 5,000 gate to Bramall Lane with Premier League referee Uriah Rennie officiating. A further ground sponsorship deal changed its name to the BT Local Business Stadium, although it remained commonly known as The Coach and Horses. 

In May 2012 the former professional player turned professional boxer, Curtis Woodhouse was appointed as team manager while going on to become the English light welterweight champion.

Woodhouse departed after a few months. Spells as manager from Ian Winthorne, Mick Wadsworth and Jason Broadbent followed before former Dundee and Bradford City winger Andy Kiwomya took over the managerial reigns in 2015.

Sheffield announced in July 2015 that they were looking to return to their spiritual home at Olive Grove.  

Sheffield FC will play in the Northern Premier League Division One South in the 2015-16 season.


My visit

Tuesday 9th October 2012

I was visiting the steel city of Sheffield for an overnight stop after ater attending the Doncaster Rovers v Chesterfield Football League Trophy encounter. I made sure that when planning I put aside time to visit some new clubs along the way.



I had originally allocated the following morning for my visit to The Coach and Horses, but after a bit of research and experience I found a far better solution. My train was to stop in Chesterfield and a connection stopping at Dronfield was due soon after. However, my ideas were nearly scuppered as we sat in a hollow waiting to approach Chesterfield station for ten minutes. Fortunately the Dronfield train was stuck behind us, so I could still catch it.



I got off the train knowing if I could make a real effort to get to the ground I would be able to catch a bus into Sheffield soon after, rather than waiting for an extra half hour. There was only one thing for it; I ran as much as my body would allow in its tired and slightly unfit state. It was uphill for most of the way, but I felt better when I saw the ground over a roundabout.



A door was open into the clubs main building. I was just going in when a man came out of the office next door. He was slightly bewildered as I tried to explain and ask if I could go in to take photos, but he was fine about it. I went down what is the players tunnel on a match day and into the arena.

The ground was neat, yet basic but with potential for further developement if the needs required or money was available. A tidy seated stand stood next to the two story building behind the goal. Along the Sheffield Road side was a small cover for standing spectators with the Coach and Horses pub behind. The far end had some open standing. Down the left touchline stood the dug outs a small path for fans and then a steep grass bank which continued round behind the goal. This area was covered in advertising sheeting.



I went back outside and thanked the gent for his assistance before getting on board the bus to the centre of Sheffield a few minutes later.











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