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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Histon




Histon FC are a non league football club who are based in the twin villages of Impington and Histon a couple of miles to the north of the university city of Cambridge. The club were formed in 1904 as Histon Institute FC, which is from where the clubs nickname of 'The Stutes' is derived.


The club played for many years in the Cambridgeshire Football League on the ground donated by chairman John Chivers, who was head of the Chivers Jam Factory who were the main employers in the villages. In 1960 as Histon FC, the club entered the Delphian League and then three years later the Athenian League.

In 1965 Histon moved to the Eastern Counties League, where they would spend a quarter of a century, before being crowned champions and progressing to the Southern League under the managership of former Cambridge United star Steve Fallon and chairman Gareth Baldwin in 1999-00.


After a few seasons of consolidation, The Stutes were promoted to the Premier Division after finishing runners up in the 2003-04 season. They followed this up by winning the Southern League title at their first attempt and winning promotion to Conference South as well as reaching the second round of the FA Cup after seeing off Shrewsbury Town.

Money was pumped into the playing side as well as the upgrade of the clubs Bridge Road home. In Histon's first season at the new level they reached the play off final, but were defeated by St Albans City at Stevenage. Again they reached the FA Cup Round Two, but were beaten by Nuneaton Borough. Consolation was sought by a 5-0 FA Trophy home win over Cambridge United.


The 2006-07 season resulted in promotion to the Conference National and further ground improvements. Their first season in non league's elite ended with a very creditable eighth place, but even better was to follow in the next campaign as a third place was secured, which ended in a play off defeat to Torquay United. 

The club gained national attention through their FA Cup exploits as they reached the third round, going out to Swansea City. Histon had defeated Leeds United at The Glassworld Stadium, as Bridge Road had been renamed in a sponsorship deal, in front of the live ITV cameras.


To see action of the great day, click on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS_8-W4pqr0

That was as good as it got for The Stutes. There had been much talk and questions of where they money was coming from to fund a push towards the Football League. In November 2008 Baldwin left the club stating "ill health and stress" as his reasons, before taking a commercial role at Cambridge United a couple of weeks later. Tony Roach took over, with the board agreeing to sack Steve Fallon in January 2009.


Alan Lewer took over the managerial reigns, but he lasted a year at the same time that the club were deducted five points and fined £5,000 after pleading guilty to "submitting misleading financial information". Dave Livermore took over as team boss season but could not prevent the team finishing bottom of the league and being relegated to Conference North for the 2011-12 season.

Livermore departed to be replaced by Dennis Greene for the 2012-13 season. Rumours of more financial troubles came to the fore in November 2012 as an away game at Colwyn Bay was called off at late notice, with the board promising a statement the following Monday. When the announcement was made it appeared that they had asked previous creditors and directors to write off their debts or the club could face closure.


Greene departed as the directors cut the playing budget and attempted to balance the books. Brian Page took over as manager as his young side avoided relegation. Finances were assisted when Cambridge City became tenants at Bridge Road after losing their Milton Road home.

Histon were relegated back to the Southern League at the end of the 2013-14 season, after a narrow escape the previous campaign. The team's first season was also a struggle. In October 2015 Steve Fallon returned as manager after a spell at the helm at Soham Town Rangers.


Histon FC will compete in the Southern League Premier Division in the 2015-16 season.


My visit

Histon 1 Bradford Park Avenue 4 (Saturday 1st December 2012) Conference North (att: 264)




Histon had been on my radar for some time, but I wanted to coincide my visit with a call to the Abbey Stadium in nearby Cambridge so that I could get some photos for my blog. I worked out that a Saturday when on nightshift would offer the best opportunity as Cambridge would still be in daylight when I arrived.


I ticked off my task at The Abbey and headed into the town centre using my one day dayrider ticket. I got out at the bus station and headed round the corner to St Andrews Street, where the Citibus 8 service soon arrived. I had at one point considered walking between the grounds, but once again I was surprised by the size of the town and was glad I didn't.

I got out at The Railway Vue stop and discovered the Busway just around the corner. This would later come in very handy. Within a few minutes I was walking up the drive and entering the Glassworld Stadium. I paid £10 admission, plus £2.50 for a programme, which I thought was a pound overpriced as well as having a go on the half time draw. I went through the gap under the stands to take in my surroundings.


Along my side were two raised seated stands; the original Main Stand and one built by the Cambridgeshire FA with their offices at the rear. There was room to stand at the front and extra space at either end. To my left The Rec End was a low modern covered terrace, as was The Bridge End which faced it. These two end roofs joined in the corners with a stand of similar height all along the far side, which contained a few rows of seats. It was a neat enough arrangement, but it had a plastic feel about it.

A friendly steward pointed me in the direction of the bar at the top of the Main Stand. I was a little dismayed to see the only bitter came in cans of John Smith's smoothflow, as did the Guinness. Chester had been in town the week before, and I was later told that they were a thirsty mob. I wasn't sure whether this was why towels were placed over the bitter pumps, or supplies had run out for other reasons. I thought it best not to ask.


I went outside at five to three with my usual desperate selections placed on an accumulator, and with a hunger that needed satisfying. First I did a lap of the ground to get some photos in daylight. I'd just got behind The Rec End goal when the visitors from West Yorkshire cheered their impressive away following when James Knowles scored heading home a corner. I'd just got past the corner flag when it was two, as Michael Duckworth scored with a deflected shot from thirty yards out.

It was at this point I strangely felt sorry for the home fans. Now I understand that Histon made themselves unpopular when money was being thrown at the team a few years previously, and they could have been more gracious during their rise, but I felt for the hardy souls who'd stayed loyal. They looked like they were there right from the Eastern Counties days, and it wasn't their fault that their village club had been treated as a rich boys toy.


I'd just reached the end that Avenue were attacking when they made it three, after Alex Davidson was put through to round Calum Kitscha in the home net and roll the ball into the empty net. By now I'd got chatting to a man from deepest Norfolk, with a soft spot for Avenue who asked all about Scarborough Athletic and their trials and tribulations. I was now ready for food, and went for the very filling and tasty double cheeseburger for a rather pricey £4.50. At least the hot drinks were only a quid.


The young Histon side battled away and got back into the game, but didn't really look like scoring if truth be told. At the other end Kitscha was having a fine game and skipper James Stevenson put in a good shift. Manager Dennis Greene had been hit by four more players leaving the club during the week as they tried to balance the books, and his team were certainly not short of endeavour. It's just they got into the game two goals too late, as Bradford seem to settle for what they had. It was nice to see former Scarborough captain Nathan Hotte having a fine game marshalling the troops from a centre back position.


I retired to the bar at half time to see the inevitable failure of my fixed odds coupon, but at least it was a bit warmer. I took up the same position near the snack bar, where a female home fan repetitively called out "C'mon Histern" with a voice getting higher at the end. One of her friends moved the bloke on a few yards behind them as he was having a fag. I was happy for any remote signs of heat!

Histon were giving it a go again, but the game had lost its sparkle. I rejoined my pal, who turned out to be an authority on German football and a regular home and away fan of their national team, so we had a good chat. His phone was sent Bundesliga updates, while I was desperate for good news from my teams game at Armthorpe. A Cambridge United fan at a loose end was also with him, and we had a good chat as The Stutes did pull a goal back as Matty Waters fired home after a Lewis Taaffe free kick struck the bar.


This woke Avenue from their slumber and they attacked with a bit more gusto. They finally added a forth when Matty James forced home a Davidson cross. To their credit Histon kept going as the temperatures plummeted, before the ref blew for full time. Avenue fully deserved to win, but 4-2 would have been a more accurate reflection of the play.

I was early at the Buslink and got talking to an Avenue fan who worked in racing in Newmarket. We were both impressed by the dedicated bus lane, but my thriftiness was about to cost me some time. I should have waited a few minutes and boarded Route C for an extra £2.60, which would have taken me directly to Cambridge station for the 5.45 train. Instead I used my day pass on Route B, which went to the city centre. By the time I changed services and got on one to the station, I had missed the train and had to wait twenty minutes, but we live and learn.

All in all it was a decent day out, but I left hoping that Histon found their true level and stop jeopardising their future in a league they can ill afford to compete in.




Cambridge City 1 Scarborough Athletic 2 (Wednesday November 6th 2013) FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round Replay (att: 227)

To see details of this encounter, please visit the Cambridge City page at:

http://worldgroundhoptwo.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/cambridge-city.html








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