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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thamesmead Town



Thamesmead Town FC are a football club from the London district of the same name that is located around nine miles to the east of the city centre on the south bank of the River Thames. The new town was developed from the late 1960's, with the football club being formed in 1969 as Thamesmead FC.

The club was originally set out for local youngsters playing on a Sunday, merging with Southlake FC in 1973. In 1979 the club moved to playing Saturday football, playing on the park pitches at Crossways. A tear later Thamesmead joined the lower reaches of the London Spartan League as they played home games at the Meridian Sports Ground in Charlton.




In 1985 the club changed its name to Thamesmead Town as they moved to a new home at Bayliss Avenue, and a couple of seasons later they gained senior status and were admitted to the Premier Division of the London Spartan League. In 1991 'The Mead' joined the Kent League where they became one of the better teams in the competition.

In 2002-03 Thamesmead finished as runners up to Cray Wanderers, but they were not to be denied in the 2007-08 season as they were crowned champions and promoted to the Isthmian League as extensive work was carried out at Bayliss Avenue in readiness for the higher level of football.













In May 2009 a huge development began at Bayliss Avenue with the aid of local funding to build a new Main Stand and sporting and club facilities including a separate 3G pitch for community use. Unfortunately the scheme hit many snags along the way, with the stand likely to be use for the beginning of the 2013-14 season.

The stand would be definitely required, as Town reached the Isthmian League Premier Division following a victory in the Play Off Final over Maldon & Tiptree.

Thamesmead Town FC will play in the Isthmian League Premier Division in the 2013-14 season.














My visits

Wednesday 4th October 2006

With me having a day off work I decided it would be a good day to venture to south east London and north Kent to visit some new venues. After alighting at North Greenwich station I took the 472 bus past The Valley and into the new town of Thamesmead. The bus dropped me at Lister Walk and a couple of minutes later I'd walked up Bayliss Avenue to the grounds entrance.













Once past the clubhouse behind one goal I went through the gates. A club official was working away and we had a brief chat. The venue was pretty basic at the time with a small Main Stand down the left hand side with a practice pitch behind. Traffic on the raised A2016 Eastern Way roared past behind the far open goal. The railed fence separated the pitch from spectators and the flat hard and grass standing provided for them.













I said my goodbyes and took another bus past Abbey Wood station, past the retail complex where Erith & Belvedere once played and to the home of Erith Town.

Thamesmead Town 2 Charlton Athletic 3 after extra time (Tuesday 23rd April 2013) Kent Senior Cup Semi Final (att: 212)




After completing my set of night shifts I woke up on a lovely day and enjoyed a lovely lunch with my old friend Ross Sullivan. After a walk in the sun through Regents Park we went our separate ways as I checked out any last minute changes to the midweek fixtures at home. I had fancied getting to a game at Thamesmead all season, but I was waiting for the completion of the new stand before I did.




A quick reply to my Tweet that morning had confirmed that fans would be allowed to sit in the new facility, so that looked the game for me. I left home at just gone 5pm to take the tube to North Greenwich. I wasn't sure whether it was the hot weather, but there was a strange clientele on board the train. All was revealed when I alighted as the O2 Arena was staging WWE. I always thought it took a strange breed to pay to watch that rubbish.

The crowd around the bus stop was huge, and a sign told awaiting passengers that there were serious delays on the route owing to road works. Even so, I did not expect to wait twenty minutes for the next bus to arrive when they were scheduled to run every five minutes. I managed to force my way on board and got a seat upstairs for what turned out to be an epic journey.













The heat didn't help conditions, and nor did the exasperated phone calls from those sat around me in various languages I didn't understand. We went along at snails pace and even slower on approaching Woolwich. The trek through the town centre was agonisingly slow. From dreaming of a couple of pints before kick off, I was now resigned to missing the start.

Many emergency vehicles were in the vicinity with their sirens blaring. We eventually met the main road once more and inched along towards Plumstead. Eventually we picked up speed and entered the sprawling area that is Thamesmead. I got out at Lister Walk during the half time interval tired, hot and thirsty. The journey had taken just short of two hours.

The gates to the ground were open. No-one was taking cash or selling programmes so I went to the clubhouse and treated myself to a pint of Amstell and a free match poster and team sheet before grabbing a left over programme from the previous Saturday's game against Grays from the turnstile block and going inside.














Bayliss Avenue had certainly changed since my previous visit. The impressive new stand stood unoccupied across the pitch, with the whole side fenced off and out of bounds to spectators. A small seated stand was behind the near goal, with a narrow roofed standing area occupying the far end. The final side was a narrow strip of flat hard standing, which was packed with supporters.

The Addicks had taken a large travelling support to cheer on their development squad, many of whom had played for the under 18's the previous day against Millwall. I was told that the score was 0-0, but it had been a good first half in which Town had missed a penalty.

As ever I had a walk around the pitch to get some photos. Up at the far end it looked like Athletic had been denied a penalty with referee Ian Fissenden giving a free kick on the edge of the box. This was not to the liking of Charlton coach, the ex Scarborough, Southend and Yeovil midfielder Nathan Jones who whined on to the linesman about the decision. The official correctly told him to shut up after Jones swore at him.













However, and this what I hate about modern football, the referee and linesmen gave the visitors a penalty for a nothing incident soon after. The excellent Joe Pigott slotted the spot kick home. England under 19 striker Ade Azeez looked dangerous before Jordan Cousins went on a fine run and squared to Harry Gerard who made it 2-0. Charlton looked in complete control and it was only the heroics of Rob Budd who was virtually playing on one leg because of injury in the Thamesmead net, that kept the score down to two.

Towards the closing stages I walked down towards the gate. I was in my Scarborough Athletic polo shirt which grabbed the attention of a Charlton fan. Gary went to all the juniors home games as well as most first team home and away matches. His daughter lived in York so he was also a Pickering Town supporter. He was with Keith, another loyal Addick.

I enjoyed the company of my two new pals as we discussed all manner of the game. They told me that the reason I was late was because a lorry had overturned at Plumstead and two home players had missed the game because of it. They also said that Charlton's appointment of Paul Hart as the Head of Youth at The Valley would prove to be a superb signing. I mentioned the antics of Nathan Jones. They were not surprised or impressed.













They had heard that the stand had opened against Grays on the Saturday a little in advance of the certificate, so it had to remain closed for the evenings fixture. It looked fine to us, but our ridiculous health and safety laws had looked to have struck again.

Suddenly from nowhere Town got a new lease of life. Tyrus Gordon-Young got down the line and crossed in for centre forward Stuart Zanone who volleyed home with aplomb. Cheered on by the locals, Thamesmead poured forward sensing an equaliser. It came when the referee gave a harsh handball decision against Olly Muldoon. Just how keeper Dillon Phillips stayed on the pitch for his complaints was a mystery until I was informed that it was strongly rumoured that for Athletic to play in the competition they insisted that none of their players could be shown a card. Chris Edwards sent the custodian the wrong way to send the game to extra time.













Fissenden did show a yellow card to a visiting player for continual dissent as Thamesmead's Edwards superb long range free kick hit the foot of the post and bounced out to safety. The woodwork came to Charlton's aid as a header rebounded to safety. Remarkably this sparked Athletic into life.

Pigott superbly controlled a through ball and smashed it home past Budd to spark remarkable celebrations. It was great to see a county cup being taken so seriously. However, I didn't approve of Jones' passion and it came as no shock when the linesman finally took enough from him. Referee Fissenden went across and sent Jones off. He had to go behind the goal to watch the final few minutes.



More celebrations followed the full time whistle from the joyous Addicks fans who were in good form anyway after hearing of Millwall's home defeat to Blackburn. It had been a remarkable game of football and Thamesmead deserved massive credit for their part in it. To be fair so did the kids of Charlton who must have been exhausted at the end.

I'm glad my stubbornness had won the day and I hadn't bailed out in Woolwich when so many pubs looked welcoming with the TVs showing the Champions League semi final. Gary kindly gave me a ride to Abbey Wood station so I could have an easy journey home. I was back indoors at around 11.30 and ready for a good sleep!










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