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, August 9, 2014

Cradley Town

Cradley Town FC is a non league football club based in the small town of Cradley (pronounced Craidley) in the Black Country, around ten miles west of Birmingham. The club was formed in 1970 as Albion Haden United as a result of a merger between Albion Rovers and Haden Rangers.

In 1971 the club became members of the Midland Combination Division Two, going on to lift the title in their second season. In 1975 ‘The Hammers’ or ‘The Lukes’ changed their title to Cradley Town.

After finishing Division Two runners up in 1975-76 and 1977-78 Town were promoted to Division One. In 1983 the club switched to the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division, but were relegated to Division one at the end of the debut season. In 1991 they regained their top division status.

The 1998-99 campaign saw Cradley finish as league runners up leading to promotion to the Midland Alliance, where they remained until 2010. The Lukes found the competition tough before finally returning to the West Midlands (Regional) League.

Several managers tried their hand in the hot seat upon their return to the league. In 2014 returning local boy and prolific Football League scorer Duane Darby returned to take over from Nigel Birch.

Cradley Town FC will play in the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division in the 2014-15 season.

My visit

Monday 4th August 2014

It was a delightful summer’s evening and I was calling at my final venue before heading to the Pre Season Friendly between Halesowen Town and Hednesford Town. I’d had a great day calling in at Aston Villa, Walsall, Stourbridge and Lye Town as well as enjoying a few real ales along the way.

I alighted from the no.9 bus, pleased at the use I’d got from my £6.20 one day travelcard. It looked quite a walk on the map App on my Iphone to The Beeches and I was beginning to ache. Self stubbornness decreed that I went on.

Not for the first time I was caught out by the lack of contours on a map. I looked in the vague direction I was heading and saw an enormous hill. Surely the ground wasn’t up there? Tan House Hill stood between me and my destination. My lungs were certainly clear at the top! I dropped half way down the other side along Beeches View Avenue when I spotted the entrance up a lane.

I couldn’t believe it. The gates were locked! I wasn’t going to give up that easily. A public footpath ran round the side of the ground so I went to adventure. There was a large gap in the wire netting forming the perimeter. I don’t normally like intruding, but it was my only option as I clambered over the terrain and under the wire.

Inside I found an interesting little ground. There didn’t seem to be any spectator access down that side of the pitch, and only dug outs and a rail fence. I wandered to the far end goal where a decent sized cover had tip up seats. The other touchline was built into the slope, with the primary school behind, and had a small seated stand down at the far side. The end behind the far goal contained all the clubs facilities as well as an area of covered standing.

I wandered back along the same pathway and past the gates to the grounds entrance. A dog was barking. Apologies to anyone reading this from the club reading this; I was not looking to cause any disturbance or damage. I just wanted to have a look and take some photos.

I walked back along Abbey Road towards the main Stourbridge Road to catch the no.9 to the match. Even though I could see the floodlights of The Grove in the distance, it was just too far to walk.

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