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

Friday, March 22, 2013


Bromley FC are 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.

Bromley FC will play in the Conference South in the 2013-14 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 at: http://worldgroundhoptwo.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Cray%20Wanderers

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!

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