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 their maintenance.

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 fortunate 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 heightens 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 try today. They'll be delighted 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. Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby as he grows into a young man!

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


November 2018

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Swindon Supermarine

Swindon Supermarine FC is a non league football club who were formed in 1992 following the merger of local sides Supermarine FC and Swindon Athletic FC, who were both struggling financially. 

The club is based in South Marston on the north eastern outskirts of the Wiltshire town. Athletic had been previously called Penhill FC until 1989 after being formed in 1968, playing their football in the Hellenic League. 

Supermarine, who were formed as Vickers Armstrong and then just Vickers were formed in 1946, also played their football at that level from 1982 as part of the sporting section of the Vickers Armstrong engineering company, which also partook in cricket, rugby, archery and bowls.

The new club were placed in the Hellenic League Premier Division. They went on to be crowned the 1997-98 champions under the leadership of John Fisher and Don Rogers, but were denied promotion because of grading issues at Supermarine Road.

Dave Hawkins took over as manager before he was succeeded by Alan Dyton in January 1999, as the ground issues were resolved in time for the club to win the title once more in 2000-01 when they were then accepted into the Southern League.

Clive Maguire was appointed as manager in July 2001 before being replaced by John Murphy as 'Marine' initially struggled in their new status. Murphy departed in September 2002, with Tom Jones coming in to lead the side for a short spell before the arrival of Ray Baverstock.

Tommy Saunders became the latest Marine manager when appointed in January 2003, lasting only a couple of months before being replaced by Mark Collier. The club purchased their Hunts Copse ground in South Marston in the summer of 2005.

Collier’s side reached the end of season play offs in 2005-06, losing out to Hemel Hempstead Town. However, the team were successful the following season, as Burnham and then Taunton Town were defeated in the play-offs to result in promotion to the Premier Division.

The club built off the pitch as youth and ladies sides being added to Marine. Financial problems reared their head in the summer of 2010 with a shortfall of £50,000 being revealed owing to poor cup form and the withdrawal of major sponsors.

A fans consortium was put together and through various incentives they solved the problem, which included the selling of the stadium naming rights to local company H J Webb & Son with the ground being known as the Webb's Wood Stadium from August 2010.

Cuts in the playing budget led to resignations from the team management and eventual relegation at the end of the 2011-12 season as Collier was replaced by players Gary Horgan and Matt Robinson, initially in a caretaker role from February 2011.

The former Highworth Town manager Dave Webb was appointed as team boss in the summer of 2012 to try and negotiate a return to the top division. Webb took the side to the play offs at the first attempt before bowing out to Merthyr Town.

The 2013-14 campaign also ended in play-off defeat to the same opponents as the strike force of Ashley Edenborough and Josh Parsons knocked in the goals. The following season saw a mid table finish.

In 2015-16 Taunton Town ended any hope of a return to the Premier Division in the semi-final of the play-offs before finishing in sixth place the following season. Webb departed in January 2018 to be replaced by his assistant, Lee Spalding.

Marine reached the play offs once again; but on this occasion wins on the road both on penalties to Evesham United and then Wimborne Town secured promotion back to the tiop flight of the Southern League; where they were placed in Premier Division South after league re-organisation.

Swindon Supermarine FC will play in the Southern League Premier Division South in the 2018-19 season.

My visits

Wednesday 15th August 2012

I had arrived in Swindon as I was returning from a jaunt to Devon the day before and a day of visiting new sports grounds. My plan was to go to that evenings FA Cup replay between Shrivenham and Kidlington and instead of relaxing in the pub before catching the bus I decided to take the chance to visit Supermarine as I didn't know when I'd get another.

I'd attempted to get inside Swindon Town's County Ground without any success, but had higher hopes of my next venture. The number seven bus dropped me at the end of Supermarine Road, near to Honda's UK factory on a large business park with the use of an excellent vale day rider ticket. 

A few minutes later I was outside the ground where fortunately enough there was someone from the club going inside. He kindly let me follow him. The Webb's Wood Stadium was a very tidy venue and obviously had plenty of improvements to it in recent times.

I thanked my host and walked back round for the bus back to Swindon bus station in readiness for my ride to the evenings entertainment.

Swindon Supermarine 0 Hendon 1 (Saturday 1st September 2018) Southern League Premier Division South (att: 268)

Hendon were continuing their season in new surroundings and as I had the day off work I needed little persuasion to book on the coach arranged by the Supporters Association down to Wiltshire.

Despite a good nap and an 11 am departure it was still more of a struggle to get organised than for the 8am set off for Taunton the previous week. The assembled crowd were watching a youth game at the well utilised Silver Jubilee Park on my arrival.

£20 seemed a reasonable fare for the return on a decent vehicle. Our driver used his knowledge well, taking us off the M4’s heavy traffic and diverting via the south side of the Oxford Ring Road and then down some A and B roads to our destination.

The pleasant journey was spend listening to the intriguing Test between England and India, while some others watched the first half of Leicester v Liverpool thanks to modern technology and phones. It was a pleasant day and everyone seemed in good form.

This continued as admission was only £8 and a very decent programme cost another couple of quid. The club had been hit by a burglary earlier in the week, with three TV’s been stolen from the impressive clubhouse.

The locals and club volunteers came across as a friendly bunch. The keg Hurricane Bitter was palatable enough, while the food counter offered a good choice at fair prices. All our party were impressed.

A large indoor training area had been added behind the far goal since my previous visit. Another match in the Hellenic League was taking place at the nearby rugby club. We joked that it could have been an option if things were going badly at half time.

Hendon’s following numbered around 50, as the momentum continued to gradually build around the club. The visitors were missing their big centre forward Marvin Morgan, and the general consensus was that it could be a difficult afternoon.

Therefore we were most happy when the Dons went ahead after a confident start. The ball was played wide to Howie Hall, who whipped in a low cross. Gianni Crichlow, making his first start for the club, guided the ball past keeper Josh Hill and in off the far post on six minutes.

That in truth was the highlight of a poor match. Crichlow had a shot just wide and Marine’s Joe Shepherd spurned some chances. Danny Boness looked in top form in the Hendon goal, with his central defenders Guri Demuria and Romario Jonas having fine games.

The game had the feel of a pre season friendly in parts. We moved to the far end for the second half as some of the younger Dons support made full use of the refreshments on offer while giving the team support.

We didn’t have a perfect view, but realised that Marine must have come close many times, as the ball went across the Hendon six yard box at least half a dozen times without anyone getting a finish in.

We knew that the team were putting a real shift in and defending resolutely, but it was surely a matter of time before the equaliser. Ball retention was poor from the visitors as they invited further pressure. An occasional break away came as welcome rest bite.

It wasn’t to be for the hosts. Not even the experienced Stuart Fleetwood could make it happen. The volume from the away fans increased in the last few minutes to try and get the lads over the line. It came as a huge relief when the ref blew for full time.

Special mention must be made of chief official Dale Wootton bringing play back for a foul after initially trying to play advantage. He had a good game, but the fact that this was remembered probably sums up the quality of the game.

Hendon were slightly fortunate, but they gave 100% and there would no doubt be occasions as the season progressed where they’d play considerably better but end up being beaten. That’s football!

The young uns were vocal on the bus for thirty minutes before becoming rather tired. It was genuinely good to see them supporting their local club and seeing numbers grow by the game. A decent run home had us back at SJP for just gone 7pm.

In a sign of my age I headed home after doing some shopping rather than heading to the pubs for the remainder of the Saturday evening. Oh to have the youthful energy of some fellow Dons fans.

It wasn't until I got home that I realised I was close to scooping the £400 jackpot in the Marine match prediction, as I'd got that weekends Swindon Town and Manchester United results bang on. I'd done Hendon to win 3-1. If only!

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