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

Monday, February 10, 2014

Helmond Sport (Holland)

Helmond Sport is a professional football club from the textile city of Helmond in the south east of Holland, located a few miles from Eindhoven. The club were formed on July 27th 1967 to take on the professional license on from SC Helmondia '55, who were bankrupt, and reverted to amateur status.

Sport’s first season was celebrated with promotion to the Eerste Divisie as a goal from Arie Meeuwsen proved decisive in the decider against Vlaardingen. Helmond remained at that level until 1982 when they won a place in the top flight Eredivisie following a draw against FC Den Bosch.

The clubs spell lasted two seasons before they were relegated, but the disappointment was tempered somewhat in 1985 as they reached the KNVB Cup Final but went down to the only goal of the game, in the last minute against FC Utrecht at Galgenwaard.

The team under Louis Coolen reached the end of season play offs in 1998-99 but failed to win promotion. In 2002-03 Jan van Dijk’s side played fine attacking football and finished in third place, to once more reach the play offs. However, it was PEC Zwolle who proved too strong and went up.

It was a similar story in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 campaigns for the club as the team went down first 2-1 to Sparta Rotterdam in the play off decider and then lost out to FC Volendam at the same stage the season after. The former Dutch international Gerald Venenberg arrived at Stadion De Braak to try and clinch the elusive Eredivisie position.

Unfortunately it was not to be, and following a disappointing season Vanenberg was replaced by another former international; Jan Poortvliet in the summer of 2007. Other coaches came and went before Sport once again lost to Sparta in the play off decider in 2009-10.

Helmond Sport continued to press for promotion with play off defeats to BV Veendam in 2010-11 and VVV-Venlo in 2011-12 thwarting the clubs dreams. Once more they fell short in 2012-13, again to Sparta Rotterdam under head coach Eric Meijers.
Helmond Sport will play in the Eerste Divisie in the 2013-14 season.

My visit

Tuesday 21st January 2014

My Dutch long weekend adventure was drawing to a close, but I wanted to cram in a visit to a last few clubs before my afternoon flight from Eindhoven airport. Research had shown me that Helmond was not too far away and just over ten minutes on the train.

It’s strange how Google Maps can create an image in the mind of how a town may look, yet it be very wide of the mark. This was definitely the case in Helmond. My laptop had shown me avenues with canals side by side, and an oasis of green around the stadium. In fairness the weather was dull and cold, almost making everything look as though it had been painted in black and white, but it was definitely what I had in mind.

The walk to the large sports complex took far longer than I thought it would from the railway station, which was in mid redevelopment, along a dual carriageway and then up a wide road separating dull low cost housing.

I must confess to not getting inside Stadion De Braak, but I was just a wire fence away. I got lots of excellent views of the players training on the artificial surface. It was an ideal venue for a club of Helmond’s stature. It had three raised seated stands, two facing each other across the pitch, with another behind the far goal. The final end had a wall topped by high fencing and advertising boards.

It was also nice to come across the home of SC Helmondia, just across the car park from the main stadium entrance; especially as that club formed such a vital part of Sport’s history. It was certainly a venue that I’d consider revisiting to watch a match.

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