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


September 2015

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Brentwood Town

Brentwood Town FC are a non league football club, from the Essex suburban town of the same name, which is located approximately twenty miles east of London. The current club were formed as Manor Athletic in 1954, but football in the town has a long history.

The original Brentwood FC were formed in the 1870's, reaching the quarter final of the FA Cup in 1886 where eventual winners Blackburn Rovers defeated them. They later became Brentwood Town. Following World War Two a new club Brentwood & Warley took over and became founder members of the Delphian League in 1951 and going on to become the inaugural league champions. They went on to win another couple of league titles before joining the Athenian League in 1963, where they remained for two seasons.

Brentwood & Warley were replaced in 1965 by a reformed Brentwood Town whop played at The Hive on Ongar Road and competed in the Metropolitan League. In 1967 they progressed to the Southern League, going on to promotion to the Premier Division a couple of seasons later. In the same campaign Brentwood also reached the second round of the FA Cup after battling through five previous rounds and seeing off Barnet in round one. The draw gave them an Essex derby away to Southend United, but the Roots Hall tie ended in a 10-1 defeat.

Brentwood followed this up with another outstanding run in the 1969-70 season as wins over Reading and Hendon saw the club given a home tie with Northampton Town, which attracted a gate of over 4,000, to see a 1-0 reverse. However, at the end of the season Brentwood's owners decided to sell the ground for housing and merge the club with Chelmsford City.

During this time Manor Athletic had progressed to the Essex Olympian League and when Town dissolved they changed their name to Brentwood Athletic in 1970. Four years later Athletic was dropped from their title as the club joined the Essex Senior League. After lifting the League Cup three times, the 2000-01 season saw the club lift the league title. In 2004 their current name was adopted. The 2006-07 season saw 'The Blues' go on to lift the league and league cup double, resulting in promotion to the Isthmian League.

After a third place finish in 2008-09 Town lost in the play offs to Waltham Abbey. In the 2010-11 season they went one better and reached the play off final, but went down 3-2 to Wingate & Finchley. Steve Witherspoon left the club but returned for a second term at the helm.

Brentwood Town FC will play in the Isthmian League Division One North in the 2013-14 season.

My visit

Brentwood Town 1 Needham Market 0 (Thursday 14th March 2013) Isthmian League Division One North (att: 53)

My shifts had finished for the weekend and I was enjoying excellent the company of my old pal Jeff Cards in The Golden Egg pub on Kilburn High Road watching my horses let me down at the Cheltenham Festival. I was in a dilemna whether to go home and have a siesta at tea time so that I could stay up through the night to watch England toil in the Test match against New Zealand or to go to a game.

Jeff as always, was being a source of encouragement in my travels. He asked to my choices of an evening game. Originally I had earmarked a cup game between Molesey and Cove, but after examining the options I summised that Brentwood would be a better grouind to get out of the way when I didn't have to be up for work the next morning as The Arena was located on the outskirts of town.

After a fine portion of pie and chips on the train to Euston, I walked it off with a hike to Liverpool Street station; well nearly anyway. I ended up at Old Street and needed a bus after losing my bearings. After sorting my ticket out and getting the train which seemed to be forever stopping at stations, I alighted at Brentwood and paid for a return on the bus, which dropped me virtually outside the ground.

The Arena was situated next to the Brentwood Centre, which offered plentiful leisure facilities, and the Essex Dog Training School. I paid £8.50 admission, which included a decent enough programme. As I thought that this was such good value, I had no hesitation to buy a 50/50 draw ticket. The lady and gent on the gate were both friendly and keeping an eye on Tottenham's game in Milan on the screen of a smart phone.

The ground was a steady enough venue for the standard of football played there, if showing signs of age and wear in places. There was a decent cover in the centre behind the near goal, which curiously had a leather three piece suite on the back step. The Main Stand stood down the right hand side across the half way line. It looked very much like it had been built in two sections with one added later, with the traffic of the A12 roaring by behind it. The rest of the ground consisted of open flat hard and grass standing, which several portakabins and nissen huts provided extra facilities and storage. The scene was complete with a scaffold down the far side touchline between the dug outs to enable filming.

One of them was near the turnstiles and inside an older gent and younger lady ran a small cafe, serving all the usual football ground fare at fair prices. I settled for a warming cup of tea for 70p and stood outside to be joined by a welcoming groundsman who told me that the original game had been postponed when the pitch was deemed to be waterlogged. He explained that it had been used four times already that week and all he could do was to try and keep it flat. Although it was wet in parts he'd done a very good good job. It seemed to slope slightly from the stand across the pitch and also down to the far end.

The game started well, with both teams looking to play football the right way. As the previous Thursday at Concord I stood by the benches to begin with. On this occasion the coaches offered encouragement minus expletivies and told the players to get on with the game once the referee had made his decision. I was really enjoying myself. Both number 10's looked good to me; Abs Seymoor for Brentwood and Keiron Leabon for Needham Market.

The home keeper Richard Wray made a fine stop from Tom Dew to keep the scores level, before a fine defensive block from the visitors rearguard stopped Alex Read from opening the scoring. I had wandered round to the Main Stand and went inside the clubhouse at the back so I could watch the game and see extra time from Milan. Earlier the TV was showing some loud music channel, but fortunately the young lady behind the bar turned over, or someone did it for her! Outside the half time whistle went with the score still blank as Spurs went through in Italy.

I went back out and warmed with a bovril as I chatted to a gent from Leicester. There were the usual few groundhoppers in attendance as well as twenty or so who'd made the trip from Suffolk to support their team. Louis Johnson, in goal for Needham tipped over well from Darren Blewitt on fifty five minutes. The temperature was dropping rapidly as Needham's Duane Wright missed from a narrow angle and then Elliott Crowe lobbed over. Sam Bantwick missed a volley for Brentwood but it looked more likely that the away team would snatch the points.

Before the game I'd asked a local at the bus stop what time the buses went back into town and he was pretty sure it was at half past the hour. I thought it worth missing the last few minutes to save a long walk, so I left at around 9.27. I stood and waited for ten minutes with no sign of a bus. Eventually I found a website on my IPhone, which told me the bus left at twenty past the hour. To make matters worse the Ryman League app broke the news that Neil Cousins had won the game for Brentwood with just five minutes remaining. I missed the only goal by a minute or so, but missed the bus by a lot longer.

There was nothing for it but to walk back to the station while listening to the cricket from Wellington. The journey took a lot less time than I had anticipated, and I arrived at 10.07. Using my experience I took a train in the 'wrong' direction to Shenfield, before crossing platforms and taking a fast train back to the city. I was back home at 11.30.

I'd enjoyed my evening out at a nice friendly club, even if I hadn't seen a goal. It was certainly a better option than going straight home from the pub.

1 comment:

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