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

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bromley


Bromley FC is a non-league football club from the town of the same name in the south east of Greater London. The club has a rich history since its formation in 1892 after playing friendly matches against local opposition in their first season. By the turn of the century 'The Ravens' had enjoyed spells in the Southern, London and Kent Leagues.


The original Main Stand at Hayes Lane
picture taken from the internet
In 1908 Bromley won the Spartan League before joining the Isthmian League. They went on to be crowned champions in the 1908-09 and 1909-10 seasons, with their first London Senior Cup in the latter season. Although they club were denied a hat trick the following season, they did lift the FA Amateur Cup after defeating Bishop Auckland at Herne Hill.

In 1923 Bromley joined the Athenian League, winning the title in 1922-23. The club had played at White Hart Field, Widmore Road and Plaistow Cricket Ground and then a ground in Hayes Lane before moving three hundred yards up the lane to their present location in 1933. 

Four years later Bromley reached the second round of the FA Cup. After beating Kings Lynn 4-0 away from home, they were defeated 4-1 at Scarborough. However, consolation came with a second Amateur Cup win, this time over Erith & Belvedere at The Den.

The 1945-46 season was the first campaign after World War Two, with Bromley again reaching the second round. Slough United were overcome 6-2 on aggregate in the first round, before Watford won 3-1 at Hayes Lane. 



Bromley completed the Athenian League and Amateur Cup double in the 1948-49 season, with the cup final being the first time it was contested at Wembley Stadium. A crowd of 96,000 turned out to see Bromley defeat Romford 1-0. 

The club won all three finals by the same scoreline, with the player wearing the number eight shirt scoring each time! To add to the excitement Nigeria played a friendly against Bromley at Hayes Lane in 1949, with a record crowd of 10,798 attending.



In 1952 Bromley rejoined the Isthmian League, going on to become champions in 1953-54. The feat was repeated in 1960-61. Unfortunately these glory days began to fade, eventually leading to relegation in 1975. 

After five years The Ravens regained their Premier Division status, but went back down again in 1984. Promotion came two years later and in 1988 they finished Isthmian League runners-up to Yeovil Town.



1990 saw another demotion but then a promotion at the first attempt. Disaster hit the club in 1992 when the Main Stand at Hayes Lanes was burned down, meaning home games being played elsewhere for a year until the new structure was completed. After a steady period on the pitch Bromley went down once more in 1999.

A new owner Jerry Dolke came to Hayes Lane and invested in the club. Eventually promotion was won back to the Premier Division in 2004-05 via the end of season play offs and a win against Horsham with Billy Smith and George Wakeling in charge of team affairs. 


After a season of consolidation former owner of Crystal Palace and Dolke's brother in law Mark Goldberg was put in charge of the team in a controversial move. In Goldberg's second season at the helm Bromley finished as runners up and secured a place in Conference South for the 2007-08 season. 

However, owing to work commitments Goldberg resigned soon into the new season to be replaced by Simon Osborn. At the end of the campaign Dolke stepped down as chairman to be replaced by Paul Greenwood, but remaining as owner, with Osborn also departing with Goldberg returning to his former role.


In the 2009-10 season a huge crowd of 4,242 attended the FA Cup first round tie against Colchester United, with The Ravens going down 4-0. In January 2011 Goldberg once again departed after an internal disagreement, but returning once more in June 2011 under new chairman Ashley Reading. 

Bromley continued to ply their trade in non league's second tier; reaching the first round of the FA Cup in 2011-12 and 2012-13, going out to Leyton Orient and then Fleetwood Town. The 2013-14 campaign ended in disappointment as Bromley missed out on promotion after losing in the play-off semi-final to Ebbsfleet United.


The following campaign saw another first round Cup appearance; this time going out to local rivals Dartford before going on to lift the Conference South title and win promotion to the rebranded National League.

Goldberg was replaced as manager in February 2017 by Neil Smith, while Hayes Lane was fitted with a state of the art 3G pitch in the summer of 2017. The 2017-18 season saw the Ravens bow out at Spotland to Rochdale in the FA Cup first round.


However, the team embarked on a tremendous run in the FA Trophy as Hartley Wintney, Blyth Spartans, Workington, Spennymoor Town and Gateshead were all disposed of as Bromley reached Wembley for the final against Brackley Town.

Bromley led 1-0 in the final minute of stoppage time before conceding an equaliser. They were then one spot kick away from lifting the trophy, but the kick went over and their next attempt hit the post as the team lost in dramatic circumstances.



Bromley FC will play in the National League in the 2018-19 season.


My visits

April 1984

My Land Surveying & Cartography course at college in Borehamwood was proving too much for me. I knew I was going to have to call it a day to save wasting any more time and money, so I took a day off to buy a days travelcard and go and seek out some of the locations I'd only read about in wonderment the Non League Annual.



I didn't know what to expect, but so far the day had gone brilliantly. Back then the grounds were left unlocked so it was easy to wander in. My only regret was that I took very few photos. 

Indeed on the day in question I eventually lost the film before it was developed, which in retrospect was a real sod as I'd already been to The Valley, Erith & Belvedere and Welling United. All three grounds were to later see big changes or disappear totally.


Hayes Lane was a real eye opener and a ground I was so glad to visit. It really was a beauty. There was cover at the rear of both ends. One had terracing and crush barriers, while the other had bench seating. 

The far side was a decent sized open terrace backing onto Bromley Cricket Club. The final side had the clubhouse and some open standing along with a smashing old wooden Main Stand, which filled much of the side.



I walked away determined to return for a game one day, preferably against Scarborough in the FA Trophy.

Thursday 22nd November 2007

With a day off work I decided it was time to head to Kent and visit a few grounds to update my photo collection. First on my list was Bromley, hoping that it hadn't changed too much from my previous look many years before.


The ground had certainly had a makeover from the outside, looking very professional. Fortunately a gate was open and a gent inside gave me permission to wander around and take my snaps.

Hayes Lane had seen a tidy up inside, although some of the bench seating behind the goal was missing. The major change was one I new about as the old wooden Main Stand had burned down some years previously to be replaced by a smaller but neater brick built construction on the half way line.


Some all weather five a side courts had been added to the land behind the benched end. I went on my way by bus to Hayes station and then on to Beckenham Town FC.


Cray Wanderers 2 Tooting & Mitcham United 3 (Friday 27th August 2010) Isthmian League Premier Division (att: 323)

Go to Cray Wanderers page to see details of this match here

Bromley 2 Tooting & Mitcham United 0 (Tuesday 12th March 2013) London Senior Cup Quarter Final




Every now and again owing to circumstances beyond my control, and sometimes on a whim I end up somewhere I didn't really intend on going when I left the house. Yet rather spookily it has happened twice with Bromley, and on both occasions the visitors have been Tooting & Mitcham.

A few seasons back I was heading for Colchester to tick off a new ground when I arranged to meet my pal Paul Foster with some England tickets. He was heading to Bromley, where he was meeting with some Tooting pals for their game with tenants Cray Wanderers. 


I ended up tagging along with him. This time I was standing at Victoria station awaiting a platform announcement for the Three Bridges train. Five minutes before its scheduled departure the board display told us that the service was cancelled. I was informed this was owing to severe weather. 

Now I know that Sussex had seen some snow the previous evening, but to wait so late before making the decision was a little disappointing to say the least, as the information lady and then the ticket vendor who couldn't give me a refund soon found out.

It was time for Plan B. I couldn't think of anywhere immediate, but then I remembered seeing on Twitter that Bromley didn't foresee any problems with their match being on. 


A quick check of my IPhone confirmed it had the all clear, so after seeing that a fast train could get me down there for 7.26, I bought a return for £10.20 and jumped aboard.

Alighting at Bromley South I saw a bus that I suspected was heading past the ground pull away as I got close, so with a mixture of brisk walking and a few light jogs I arrived at the sponsored named Courage Stadium after checking return buses, just after the teams came out.



I was slightly taken aback at paying a tenner admission for a county cup tie, but the price had been reduced from the usual £12. A amiable young lady on the turnstile apologised that the teamsheets had run out, but promised that some more were being printed. 

Sure enough within minutes I had a copy of the double printed sheet which also gave details of that seasons competition. Stewards went round the ground distributing them, which was a really nice touch.


On going through the gates the humorous PA man announced to any fans caught up in the queues to get in that the game would go straight to penalties after ninety minutes if the scores were level. It got a few laughs from those taking down the teams from the info board.

Tooting wore their change kit of blue and white and fielded ten black outfield players, which was a first sighting for me. Within a couple of minutes they should have taken the lead when their centre forward missed an easy tap in from a fine cross, much to the agony of their hardy seven or eight very vocal fans behind the goal. 


They continued to press in the early stages, playing some fine pacy football along the way.

I went for a walk round the ground, which hadn't changed as far as I could remember. I did notice that all crush barriers had a warning of uneven terracing printed on them, and the benches behind the goal had been treated and kept in tip top condition.


On my last visit a very decent sports bar was open next to the Main Stand, but it was shut on this occasion. However, I saw a sign directing me upstairs to refreshments. I'm glad I followed it. 

The iQ Comms Suite really was a superb facility with nice furnishings, large and small TV's, a good selection of reasonably priced refreshments and best of all, a good bar serving hand pulled Shepherd Neame Master Brew for £3.20 a pint. 


The shutters were up in front of the windows so the good sized crowd in there could watch the action. I suspected that would be a privilege too far for Conference South games?

The first half came to a close with The Ravens on top of their opponents of two divisions lower. I secured a place by the window for the second period near to some locals who I got talking to as I was able to answer their questions as to how the Football League matches were going.



The second half started off really poorly with passes not finding their team mates. I was told that Bromley had fielded two or three first teamers along with reserves and academy squad players. It beggared the question if they had ever met each other before, such was the scrappiness of the play. 

Tooting were no better, and the consensus of opinion was that we were going to see spot kicks decide the tie and who would go on to visit Wingate & Finchley or Hendon in the semi final.


Thankfully the deadlock was broken when Elliot Buchanan put the home side ahead, after Felix Ogeah had been put clean through but had seen his shot smothered by Terrors keeper Darren Behcet. Ogeah from the academy made amends when he broke through the offside trap and slotted coolly home to make it two.

The gents next to me were nice company as we chatted about recent football events and I kept them informed of updated scores via my Soccerway app on my phone. 


I was a bit disappointed that one of the old boys couldn't fill me in on the details of Bromley's FA Cup tie with Scarborough in 1937! One of his pals said he'd probably got the programme.

I made a run for it at 9.30, missing the last few minutes so that I could  the bus back to the station to enable me to catch the fast train back to the city. I was home in Kingsbury for 10.40. 


In truth it had been a poorish game, but a decent night out at a superb venue; especially as I didn't know I was going there until 7pm!

Szekely Land 4 Western Armenia 0 (Tuesday 5th June 2018) CONIFA Football World Cup (att: c130)
Night shifts were over, and it was time for football. There had been several options in the tournament, but I plumped for just the one match at Bromley in the quarter final stage. I headed to the game by tube and then fast train from Victoria.

The bus from Bromley South was slow going through temporary traffic lights but I eventually reached the ground a little early as kick off had been put back fifteen minutes to 6.15. Admission on the gate was £12 before settling with a Strongbow fruits for £4.


It was a bright, pleasant but blustery evening at Hayes Lane. A new artificial pitch had been laid since my previous visit, with segregation barriers also in place for National League football. The stand to the right of the seats was in the process of demolition for a new structure to go up.


The tournament had caught my attention and I hadn’t seen a bad word about it. Well, that was apart from the Ellan Vannin side who were representing the Isle of Man. They’d withdrawn from the placing play-offs after having an appeal against Barawa turned down.

Szekely Land represented the ethnic Hungarians situated in Transylvania in the east of Romania and had a loud if small support wearing national colours over on the far side by the two team benches.


Their team belted out a rousing chorus of their anthem, while the Armenian version was a strange tune with operatic singers that saw the team remain silent. The match was underway at a quick pace as I wandered to the far side for some sun.

Laszlo Hodgyai fired a fierce half volley wide for Szekely on five minutes before another effort from Lorand Fulop was saved from Armenian keeper Gevorg Kasparov. His side received a severe blow a few minutes later.


Arthur Gyorgyi found himself in on goal but was brought down by defender Raffi Kaya. The referee had no hesitation in issuing a straight red card to reduce Western Armenia to ten men. Despite being a man light, they still showed signs of promise despite the Szekely’s being on top.


Fulop was showing great skills and making runs to cause problems for the Armenians. The sending off certainly didn’t quell any feistiness as challenges went in thick and fast. There was an awful foul by a Szekely defender on Vicken Valenza Berberian down the touchline.

Both benches got involved in some argy bargy with an Armenian coach being sent to the stands. I was enjoying the action sat on the steps behind the goal by this point with some locals who were also enjoying the action.


Szekely continued to have the lions share of possession with Fulop being denied by the feet of Kasparov. The Armenians looked to be decent footballers but were missing a cutting edge up front; especially with one man light.


The scoring was opened just past the half hour mark when a ball was half cleared and lobbed back into the box to find Mitra Szilard who slotted home. The lead was nearly short lived as a long ball caused confusion in the Szekely defence as the impressive Vahagn Militosyan came close to capitalising.


His team mate Rafael Safaryan also came close with a header as the pace continued at breakneck speed. Another altercation including nearly all the players on the pitch took place just before the half time whistle, when I moved to take a position in the main stand seats.

The Armenians came out after their half time refreshments and looked the better side, while Szekely Land sat on their lead and looked to take the sting out of their opponents. Kasparov was excellent with his distribution and his forward players flicked on winning most balls.


The Hungarians began to look very dangerous on the counter as their opponents tired. The second goal eventually came with around thirty minutes remaining. Gyorgyi centred for Attila Csuros to score with a free header just after their skipper limped off.

The dismissed Armenian coach was going spare in front of me, but in truth his players really couldn’t do much more. They kept trying but were a spent force. Another member from the Armenian bench was shown to the stands for further protest.


Szekely broke once again as Laszlo Szocs found himself in acres of space before squaring unselfishly for Fulop to finish with aplomb to the incessant joy of their vocal supporters on the far side as their side went 3-0 ahead.

The Western Armenia continued gamely and came very close to a consolation as Safaryan saw a long range swerving shot spilled by Szekely custodian Gadna Nagy before he saved miraculously from substitute Jules Tepelian on the follow up.


Despite their fearless play, the Armenians were guilty of some poor tackles. Artur Yedigaryan hacked down an opponent with an awful challenge; yet he escaped without a card. It was unbelievable negligence from the ref.


Militosyan had a good effort but it wasn’t to be for his side. Szekely wrapped things up in the closing stages after a calamitous piece of defending. Safaryan passed the ball back past where Kasparov was stood. The ball hit the post for Bajko Barna to tap into an empty net.


Mitra Szilard missed a real sitter before full time to make it 5-0. I headed out just before full time to catch a bus back to Bromley South station. I’d really enjoyed the match and lamented that late shifts meant that it would be my last game of the tournament.


I was back at Victoria to take a tube to Euston for just gone 9pm for beers in the Doric Arch and Euston Tap before a night cap at JJ Moons in Kingsbury to round off a satisfying evening out.











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