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

Cray Wanderers

Cray Wanderers are one of the oldest football clubs in the world, with the club claiming that they are the second oldest after Sheffield FC although there are also claims that Hallam FC hold that distinction with both clubs being formed in 1860. The club are currently based in Bromley in south east Greater London, but they are originally from the Kent villages of St Mary Cray and St Paul's Cray.

Oxford Road - a former home of Wanderers
picture uploaded from the internet

'The Wands' were formed by workers building the railway between London and Kent, going to join the Kent League in 1894. Cray were crowned champions in 1901-13 as they operated as a full time professional concern and acting as a feeder club to Woolwich Arsenal. Games were played at Fordcroft on Star Lane.

Sadly Wanderers lost their home ground in 1937 after spells in the London and Kent Leagues as it was purchased to become a cemetery, meaning that the club had to drop down to amateur league football while sharing various grounds. They rejoined the London League in 1951 and three years later Cray found a new home ground at Grassmeade.

The next twenty years would see Wanderers compete in many different leagues. They won the London League in 1956–57 and 1957–58 before moving to the Aetolian League. After that Cray competed in the Great London, Metropolitan and Metropolitan-London Leagues before joing the London Spartan League in 1975, two years after moving to a new home at Oxford Road.

In 1976-77 Cray were champions of the London Spartan League, before joining the Kent League the season after. The Wands won the championship in 1980-81. A new club chairman Gary Hillman arrived during the 1994-95 season with ambition for the club. He initiated a move to share with Bromley FC at Hayes Lane in 1998 as Oxford Road did not have floodlights, before the team added more titles in 2002-03 and 2003-04, with the final win ending in promotion to the Isthmian League.

After missing out in the play offs the previous season, Wanderers did go up by that route at the end of the 2008-09 season with a victory over Metropolitan Police in the final. 2010 saw the club mark its 150th anniversary with a three team tournament with Sheffield and Hallam. Meanwhile the team continued to consolidate in the Isthmian Premier Division under loyal boss Ian Jenkins who joined the club in the 1993 before his managerial appointment in 1999.

Chairman Hillman worked hard on a plan for Wanderers to build a brand new stadium to include leisure facilities and housing on a green field site at Sandy Lane nearer to their spiritual home.

To see the plans, go to: http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/9409903.Cray_Wanderers_unveil_new_plans_for_stadium_in_Sandy_Lane/

Fans of all clubs were encouraged to add their support for the scheme, with Hillman also lobbying politicians such as Boris Johnson. The plans went before Bromley council in 2012 and were unanimously rejected to strike a crushing blow to the club, whose lease with Bromley was due to run out in 2014.

To see the clubs response and plans to fight the decision, go to:

Cray Wanderers FC will compete in the Isthmian League Premier Division in the 2013-14 season.

My visit

Cray Wanderers 2 Tooting & Mitcham United 3 (Friday 27th August 2010) Isthmian League Premier Division (att: 254)

Sometimes on my groundhopping adventures over the years, things don't turn out as I had originally planned, and this trip was a classic case in point. I was to meet my pal Paul Foster on the tube to hand over some tickets for the England match the following week on my way to Colchester United v Carlisle United and a new tick on my way to hopefully visiting all League clubs. By the time we reached Baker Street my plans had changed.

Paul was heading to Bromley to support Tooting. Through Mark Turner, a mutual pal from cricket, he had started going to a few Terrors games. He was due to meet Mark at the Sports Bar at Victoria station. The lure of company and a few beers drew me in hook line and sinker. We watched Stuart Broad give the Pakistan bowling attack a good hiding a couple of days before the famous match fixing scandal broke, before catching the train down to Bromley South.

We met with some other lads heading to the game over the road from the station in the Richmal Crompton Wetherspoon pub, where my mood was enhanced even greater as the fine TEA from the Hogsback Brewery was available. The walk to the ground wasn't a problem! On arrival we went into the fine sports bar near to the turnstiles as we checked the TV for latest updates and met with some other away fans.

To see a description of the Hayes Lane ground, please visit the Bromley page at: http://worldgroundhoptwo.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Bromley

I'd heard about various characters who supported Tooting and I wasn't disappointed. They really made some noise and got behind their side. They were rewarded after a cagey opening when Rob Haworth headed home seven minutes before the interval. I was having a fine evening and spent plenty of time in the company of Gary, a Charlton fan who'd been dragged along by a pal as we discussed the places we'd visited and the game in general.

Wands drew level five minutes after the break when Steve Lozano got down the flank and dragged the ball back for on loan striker Lewis Perkins to sweep home towards goal only for it to be stopped on the line by the hand of Tooting defender Hasim Dean. Laurent Hamici smashed home a penalty with referee Colin Lymer surprisingly failing to issue a card of any colour to the offender as he deemed him to have accidentally fallen on the ball.

The Terrors fans kept the faith with their heroes as young keeper Jamie Butler made some good stops. This led to Tooting regaining the lead against the run of play as a James Nicholls bullet header flew into the Cray net from a Karl Beckford corner. The game was a cracker for the neutral and it got even better when Wands drew level once more. Butler undid his previous good work when dropping a Danny Phillips cross, which Adam Cottrell stabbed home.

Tooting weren't finished and they grabbed the winner with just six minutes left on the clock as Dean whipped in a cross for substitute Barry Stevens to head home. All three Terrors goals had come from headers, something that Cray boss Jenkins was quick to point out in post match interviews.

We caught a busy bus over the road from the ground back to the station. We'd just missed a train, so Paul and I adjourned to a bar to finish off the evening before returning to the city.

I hadn't expected to be at a Cray Wanderers home game when I left the flat, but I was so glad I ended up doing so!

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