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 6, 2012

Uxbridge





Uxbridge FC are a non league football club who are based in West Drayton in the far west of London close to Heathrow Airport. The club are one of the oldest in southern England, having been originally formed in 1871.

The club started out playing friendly games and entering the FA Cup for the first time in 1883. The following year the club folded owing to financial difficulties before reforming in 1879. The club were successful with Hubert and Francis Heron both making full appearences for England. In 1886 the club merged with Uxbridge Crescents FC, taking their name for a year before reverting back, but keeping Crescents red and white colours.













In 1894 Uxbridge became founder members of the Southern League and they then reached the FA Amateur Cup Final of 1898 where they were defeated by Middlesbrough at Crystal Palace. The following season 'The Reds' left the Southern League to join the Middlesex League, where they lasted just one season before folding once again with a debt of £130.

In 1902 the club reformed once more and joined the West Middlesex League and then the Great Western Combination League two seasons later. After World War One Uxbridge entered the Athenian League from where they were relegated but promoted again. After World War Two The Reds became members of the Corinthian League, moving into a new ground on Cleveland Road called Honeycroft.













Uxbridge were crowned Corinthian League champions in 1959-60, but when that league disbanded three seasons later, the club rejoined the Athenian League. In 1966 the team faced a full England side at Wembley in their World Cup preparations, losing 8-0. Once again financial worries troubled the club as Honeycroft was mortgaged.

In 1978 Uxbridge moved into a new ground a few miles south in West Drayton,which they also called Honeycroft. The old ground became part of the Brunel University. After a third place league finish in the 1981-82 season The Reds were promoted to the Isthmian League. They were promoted to Division One, the leagues second tier, in 1985 and they remained there for twenty seasons.













Following the re-organisation of the non league pyramid, Uxbridge were placed in the Southern League in 2004. In their debut season they lost in the semi finals of the play offs to Maldon Town. Before the start of the next season, Honeycroft had its floodlight system upgraded, but they didn't lighten the teams performances. As a consequence George Talbot departed as manager after a spell of fifteen years to be replaced by former player Tony Choules.

In 2007-08 Uxbridge lost to Oxford City in the Play Off Final, and then went out to Bedworth United at the semi final stage in 2011-12.

Uxbridge FC will play in the Southern League Division One Central in the 2013-14 season.


My Visits

Wednesday 6th April 2005

I was using a day off from work to visit several clubs in Middlesex and to do some walking. After returning to Uxbridge bus station from Harefield, I embarked on a bus ride down to West Drayton railway station and then walked the mile or so along Horton Ground past light industries to Honeycroft.











The car park was being used by workers but the gate was opened. I found quite an impressive venue inside, which had a small cover and terracing behind both goals, with seated stands facing each other across the touchlines. There were a couple of steps of open terracing around much of the ground. The clubhouse was outside the ground, but the board room and refreshment hut were across some grass behind the Main Stand inside.

I left the ground having finished my days groundhop and took a bus to Boston Manor tube station for a ride home via central London.


Uxbridge 2 Wembley 2 (Sunday 26th August 2012) FA Cup Preliminary Round (Att: 754)



Having been to Wembley’s win over Langford in the Extra Qualifying Round in front of the live ESPN cameras, I was keen for another look and I also wanted to see a game at Honeycroft. With ESPN covering the game, it was put back to the Sunday afternoon. This suited me fine as it was my day off before I headed to Scarborough for a week of football and cricket.

Uxbridge looked like they would offer a stern test to Terry Venables, the superstars and regulars of Wembley. Uxbridge reached the play-off semi-finals in 2011-12 and had made another bright start to the season, so I fancied them to win.

I desperately needed to see a good game. The previous day I’d seen an absolute stinker in a storm of Biblical proportions at Step 6 South Kilburn, which featured a twenty stone ref and a home boss whose language would have embarrassed Chubby Brown. I’d also met a local programme collector and competition judge called Phil Watkins at the game, who also assisted Scarborough Town with their badges and asked after Keith Crowe who I knew from Scarborough. He was also heading to Honeycroft for the cup tie.











As it happened I was on the same train as Phil on match day, as I tried to solve a mystery case of de-hydration that I’d contracted after watching Yorkshire’s T20 final in the pub the night before. He seemed very confident (much more than me) that he had the correct directions to the ground from Uxbridge station. My chum assured me that TFL had offered him the correct information.

In short we caught the wrong bus and were heading in the wrong direction. Phil had a hilarious (for me anyway) animated discussion with someone from TFL which ended in him lambasting the company and calling the telephonist some very impolite things. I thought it better not to reveal my occupation. A similar chat also ensued with a taxi company before our cab arrived. I thought poor Phil was going to blow a gasket at any moment. He made me look calm!

We arrived at a busy ground as the bar staff were being put under the severest pressure. We sat outside with our very ordinary ale and were joined by a senior Uxbridge committee man. He was so proud at the crowd numbers turning up and the fact that they hadn't changed their admission fees and were still letting in under sixteen’s for free. He came out for a rest from the chaos. I laughed as someone offered advice on how to deal with such an occasion and he retorted with something along the lines of everyone having great ideas but no-one wanted to carry them out. I felt right at home!

We went inside to try and find a place against the fence to enjoy our snacks and tea. There really was a good crowd in the excellent little ground. Wembley took the field with just Ego Ehiogu and Claudio Cannigia of their original stars in the starting line-up. Martin Keown, who was subjected to an awful song about his looks from some local rascals, was on the bench sitting next to El Tel.











In the previous round Wembley’s Darryl Atkins stood out, as he did in the opening half of this encounter. My only criticism was that he maybe tried to impress the TV audience a little too much, but the general consensus was that the lad was heading for bigger things. Uxbridge were probably the better side, but found themselves two down at the interval thanks to strikes from Paul Shelton and an absolute beauty from Atkins.

Chatting amongst the fans, no-one could really see a way back for the home side. Wembley had been excellent, with Ehiogu turning back the years with a heroic performance at the back. Despite much huffing and puffing, The Reds looked no nearer unlocking The Lions rear guard. Then with twenty minutes remaining Kevin Warner grabbed Uxbridge a lifeline with a superb free kick. Barely a minute later Chris Moore found himself space and finished with aplomb. Wembley’s large charismatic keeper Lee Pearce feigned injury to buy some time to calm his defence as the crowd offered him some dietary advice. The atmosphere was at fever pitch by this point as the locals smelt blood.

Atkins could have won it late on, but he missed a guilt edged opening, while Pearce denied Moore with a great save at the other end before the referee, who could not have been described as camera shy, brought proceedings to an end. I walked back with Phil and an elderly Wembley fan for the bus as we enjoyed a lovely chat about football and how times have changed.











It had been a really good day out, but the icing on the cake was still awaiting me. I fancied catching the end of the Liverpool v Manchester City game over a quiet pint, but I couldn’t find anywhere in the vibrant Uxbridge town centre showing it. Instead I made do with a cask marque establishment called The Three Tuns. It was the first pub I’ve found within the M25 that served Tetley’s Cask. It was in perfect condition and only £2.50 a pint. Scarborough landlords please take note! A really good day out went up a couple of notches to absolutely superb over the following hour or so.

I missed the replay in person and on TV, as Uxbridge ended Wembley’s run at Vale Farm with a 5-0 hammering. The experiment of fielding the stars had been good in my opinion, as it brought plenty of good publicity for non-league football as well as handing the clubs involved some valuable income. It was just a shame that ESPN didn’t show the next round live as well.

I was interesting to see if Budweiser (who funded the stars appearances) ESPN or Sky were to try a similar experiment the following season. 






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