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, January 28, 2014

WHC Wezep (Holland)





Wezep Hattemerbroek Combination, or WHC Wezep as they are most commonly known are an amateur football club from  from Wezep – Hattemerbroek in the Gelderland region of central Netherlands who were formed on the 1st October 1930, originally as Hattemerbroek Football Association (HVV).


 








HVV were soon successful, going on to be crowned champions of the North Central Football Association in 1938 and 1939. Unfortunately World War Two intervened, but when peace was restored a new club HVV Wezeper Boys took over the reigns. However the KNVB, the Dutch FA, refused to recognise the new set up and enforced them to merge with another local club; HVV Brandsma. From there WHC was born.


Placed in the fourth class of Dutch football, WHC reached the final of the competition in 1949, where they were defeated 2-1 by Amsterdam AMVJ. Undaunted WHC regrouped and won the championship the following season by beating Nunspeet in 't Harde in front of 5,000 fans at the final.









The 1960’s brought the glory days to Sportpark Muldersingel as five championships were won. An amazing crowd of 11,500 witnessed the completion of the blue and white’s seventh title in 1968 for the final against local rivals Go Ahead Kampen Zwolle. In 1970 another league title was chalked up on the clubs honours board.

The following season saw WHC win the Saturday Amateur Cup following a victory over Black White '28. Throughout the 70’s WHC played in the top tier of the amateur game, but the club narrowly avoided relegation in 1980 following a 5-0 win over SDCP, with 5,000 fans attending the clash in Nunspeet.











However, 1982 saw WHC relegated for the first time. Six years later victory over FC Meppel in the final of the Tweede Klasse saw WHC propelled back to the first Eerste Klasse. After another scrape with relegation, WHC went down once more in 1996, but they returned at the first attempt.

The turn of the millennium saw the club consolidate and then end with three third place finishes in the league. Following restructuring of the leagues in 2010/11 WHC failed to gain a place to the Topklasse.


 








Probably WHC’s greatest claim to fame came when they were drawn against Ajax in the KNVB Cup. The match on the 23rd December 2009 was moved to the IJsseldelta Stadion home of neighbours PEC Zwolle and ended in a 14-1 win for the vistors in front of a sell out 10,500 crowd.

To see the action from the game, go to:













WHC Wezep will play in Zaterdag Hoofdklasse C (Saturday second division C) in the 2013-14 season.


My visit

WHC Wezep 1 AZSV 0 (Saturday 18th January 2014) Zaterdag Hoofdklasse C (att: 300)



When I planned my long weekend around The Netherlands, one of the attraction was that the main Eredivisie games kicked off on the Saturday evening, offering me scope to delve into the non league amateur game for the first time. As my match of choice at night was PEC Zwolle against Vitesse and to meet up with my old pal Guy Watson, who was going to FC Utrecht v Feyenoord the following day, I wanted a nearby game. The excellent Soccerway website (http://uk.soccerway.com/) was to prove to be my friend once again.



After some trekking around Enschede and Hengelo, the train took me to Zwolle at lunchtime. A strategic error on my part led me to book the excellent but remote Mercure Hotel on the outskirts of the town. A decided to splash out on a taxi from the station, but the rapid rate of the metre was putting me off further extravagance.











Freshened up after a shower I planned to jump on the no.100 bus at the Oranje Nassaulaan stop. However, this required using the cycle paths going under the motorway and dual carriageway. I got lost and had to revert to the map app on my phone. Thankfully I’d taken up the offer from 3 phones of an unlimited twenty four hours internet pass for a fiver. I was soon on track but time was pressing on. I was never going to make the stop, so instead I had to jog and then run further down the route to Katerveerdijk.

I beat the bus by a minute. The locals saw a very out of breath and perspiring visitor jump onboard! Around ten minutes later I was jumping off at Willem de Zwijgerkazerne. From there it was a couple of minutes walk down Hoeloosweg to the entrance of Sportpark Muldersingel. I was encouraged that there were others doing the same.











I immediately got the vibes that WHC were a thriving club. At least two other games had finished on adjoining pitches and the women’s team were warming up before their match on the secondary pitch behind the goal of the main arena. I followed the crowds and found a temporary club shop. I was delighted to see that there was a match programme. I’m not sure how much I paid for it, as I let the friendly lady take some change from my hand, but she gave me four strips of raffle tickets as well.

Admission cost me $7. I was given a ticket at the booth that was then torn in half by the inspector a yard away! The entrance was in the corner of the ground just past what looked like a decent clubhouse. Once inside I liked what I saw. De Muldersingel was a typical non league venue.














By the entrance there was a food stall. Both ends had a little flat hard standing. The far side had seven steps of open terracing. The near side had similar open terracing but a raised roofed seated stand across the half way line to accommodate 500 fans. There was a basic scoreboard in the far corner, but the feature that impressed me were the raised double level of advertising boards above the open ends and terracing giving the ground a real enclosed feel and the impression that local businesses really supported their club.

I took up a position on the far terrace once I’d taken my photos to take in the action. Both sides went into the game in the bottom three in the league table, so I was expecting a tight clash. I wasn’t to be let down.











The visitors from Aalten began brightly without creating any real opportunities. The home centre back Tanju Sahin seemed to enjoy the theatrical side of the game. I quickly got the impression that he wasn’t quite as good as he thought he was. The match had moments of close skill and passing, but also plenty of long balls for good measure. WHC grew into the encounter and went ahead on twenty eight minutes when Bunyamin Özkök latched on to a pass inside the area to go round the visiting custodian Ruud Kempers and slot home from a tight angle.

Just like at being back at a game at home the away keeper took some stick from a group of home youths. Kempers looked quite young himself with a head of flaming red hair. I’m not sure what was repeatedly shouted at him each time he cleared the ball, but I don’t suppose it too complimentary. Soon after the goal, the WHC centre forward Ibrahim Tuncer, who was built like a young Peter Crouch missed a sitter and put the ball onto the women’s pitch over the fence.











Leading up to half time I saw fans leaving the terrace and coming back from the food bars eating something out of paper. This had to be investigated! It turned out to be a lightly battered fish that was then sprinkled with paprika pepper. It cost $2.20 and I have to say it was very good as far as football food goes.

As the half time whistle went it was time to wash my snack down with a beer. Bottles of Amstel were an extremely reasonable £1.75 a go. The TV’s were showing the teletext pages from the other games around the country, including the amateurs.


 








I decided to take up a seat in the stand for the second half, finding the day so much more relaxing after finding out that the Scarborough game at Bedworth had been postponed. Tuncer continued to have a nightmare up front before he was mercifully replaced, while Sahin looked to be the star while making his fair share of errors.

The action had reduced after the break, and turned into a battle of attrition. AZSV pushed forward trying to pierce the home defence, but they were holding firm and looking more likely to double their advantage. Özkök came close to claiming a brace with a decent chance. As the game entered its closing stages I stood by the exit as Tjeerd Korf and then Rossi Dati both missed guilt edged chances to seal the game.











I fully expected them to let it slip in the last minute. Judging from the reaction of their fans, I wasn't in a minority. However, they hung on to claim three vital points. I thought it only right to have another bottle while waiting for my bus. The bar was packed with happy fans who then turned their attention to the TVs showing the Holland v New Zealand hockey match.

My timing was perfect, having only to wait a minute or two for the bus to arrive and take me to Zwolle station and to meet up with Guy for the evening’s entertainment.







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