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 9, 2013

Heanor Town

Heanor Town FC are a non league football club from Heanor in Derbyshire, a town which once thrived on the coal mining and textile industries. The club were formed following a meeting at the Ray Arms Hotel in 1883, although teams using the same name or 'Heanor' were said to have played from 1878.

'The Lions' joined the Derbyshire League from The Town Ground, which was shared with Heanor Cricket Club, and within ten years they had moved to the Midland League. Around this period the club played in the first round of the FA Cup on four occasions, going out 4-1 away to Aston Villa, 1-0 at Nottingham Forest as well as losing home ties to Bury and then Southampton St Mary's.

Heanor went on to compete in many different leagues'; Derbyshire League, Mid-Derbyshire League, the Midland League on four separate occasions, Central Combination, Central Alliance, Notts Alliance, West Midlands Regional and the Northern Counties East League.

While members of the Central Alliance in 1958, Carlisle United attracted a record crowd of 6,511 to The Town Ground in the FA Cup First Round. Five years later Town played in front of a gate of 5,799 away to Bradford Park Avenue at the same stage. In 1966 The Lions finished as runners up in the Midland League and were offered a place as founder members of the Northern Premier League. However, the club committee declined the position because of the costs involved.

Town reached the fourth round of the FA Vase in both 1989 and 1990 before going on to be crowned Central Midlands League champions in 1994-95 and 1996-97. In 2008 Heanor moved to the newly formed East Midlands Counties League, with Joint Managers Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood coming in a year later to try and move the club forward. The league title was secured in the 2011-12 season to gain Heanor Town their first ever promotion, as they moved to the Northern Counties East League.

Heanor Town FC will play in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division in the 2013-14 season.

My visit

Heanor Town 0 Scarborough Athletic 3 (Saturday 2nd March 2013) NCEL Premier Division (att: 270)

It was a standing joke amongst my mates that I was never at work, and I had to see their point when I turned up in Scarborough once again on a weeks leave I didn't know I had until a few days before. I took it on the chins and got on with organising my plans, which meant travelling from Manchester to the east coast instead of London for work on the Thursday. A train was booked south after Boro's attractive looking game at Heanor to take me back down south.

The Saturday of the game was a stunning early spring day, with nice temperatures and the sun blazing as I caught the train to York to meet up with my travelling colleagues Nick Finch and Stuart Fairbridge. Nick did a fine job getting us to our destination just before 2pm and found a parking spot just behind the ground, which was just a hundred yards or so away from the main town square.

Admission was just £5 and the decent programme a further quid. There was something really nice about the place on first impressions. The welcome was warm and as we walked towards the clubhouse down the slope we saw the Heanor Chairman with ours as well as Boro boss Rudy Funk and a couple of loyal fans. All were smiling and in good form.

The clubhouse was a nice enough place and the locals friendly as they seemed amazed at the size of our away following as a couple of old boys reminisced with me about holidays by the seaside. At about five to three we moved outside as the players were coming out. It gave a good chance to survey the scene.

One side of the pitch was railed off where it shared with the cricket ground. Beyond there was a smart pavilion and scoreboard as well as the clubhouse. The pitch sloped towards that side and the far goal. The near end with Godfrey Street behind it had a cover with some bucket seats and room to stand behind. The changing rooms stood next to it. A similar cover with a few steps of terracing and dug outs in front ran along the side, with more open shallow terracing at either side and a school behind. The far end consisted of a little open hard standing with grass behind. It really was a nice venue, which looked a picture.

The side terrace certainly enhanced the atmosphere, with both sets of fans really getting behind their sides, but without a hint of menace. Boro kicked down the slope in the first half and generally had the better of play. The Lions had a couple of shots from distance that Arran Reid stopped comfortably enough. The Boro rearguard were having a good day, while at the other end half chances came and went.

After the interval the ball held up more for the visitors and they were given the breakthrough when young keeper Oliver Pannell, on youth experience from Lincoln City, collided with centre back Daniel Fields as they tried to contain a through ball with Ryan Blott menacing. The ball ran loose with Blott rolling it into an empty net despite appeals from the home side. The young referee Akil Howson gave the correct decision as he did all day. He really was having a great game.

Pannell made a brilliant save to keep out a Louis Horne header before a superb run along the byline from Peter Davidson set up James Bennett to rifle in number two. Heanor were being restricted to long shots and a sporadic half chance at the other end. The final goal came ten minutes from time when a corner found its way to Matty Plummer who bundled the ball home.

The game petered out after that but at full time fans of both sides gave their heroes a terrific ovation after what had been a really good tough game of football. It was good to see the referee also get loud plaudits. Manager Funk looked a delighted man as he brought up the rear with forward Blott.

Nick kindly dropped me off at Inn the Middle, a fine hostelry serving some lovely local ale, so I could savour a couple of pints before walking down the hill to Langley Mill station. Twenty minutes later I was in Nottingham and ready for food as the catering facilities at the ground had been too busy all afternoon. A fine pie, sausage and chips supper was taken onto my train back to St Pancras. I awoke near my destination a very full and content man.

If every NCEL day out was like that, I would have been able to contemplate another season in that division. Heanor Town fans and officials were a credit to their club, who in turn were a really welcome addition to the league.

1 comment:

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