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

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dorking

Dorking FC was a non league football club who represented the Surrey market town, which is located twenty one miles south of Central London. The club was formed in 1880, becoming the second oldest in the county. The club folded at the end of the 2016-17 season.


For many years Dorking played friendly matches and in local competition before entering the Surrey County Senior League as founder members in 1922. ‘The Chicks’ took their nickname from the towns cockerel emblem played its games at Pixham Lane, before moving to a new ground at Meadowbank in 1956.


Later that year Dorking moved to compete in to the Corinthian League, before progressing to the Athenian League in 1963. In 1974 the club merged with homeless neighbours Guildford City to form Guildford & Dorking United FC while remaining at Meadowbank.

The merger didn’t work, leading to the club folding mid season a couple of campaigns later. A new club Dorking Town were quickly formed to complete the fixtures before they dropped down to the Surrey Senior League for the 1977-78 season. By 1983 the club secured a place in the Isthmian League and reverted to its Dorking FC title.



In 1989 Dorking won the Isthmian League Division Two South championship, going on the following year to reach the final of the Surrey Senior Cup for the first time in 104 years, but they were defeated in the showpiece.

The 1992-93 season saw the good times continue at Meadowbank as The Chicks fought their way to an FA Cup First Round appearance. Peter Shilton’s Plymouth Argyle side left Surrey with a 3-2 victory. Dorking also won promotion to the Premier Division at the conclusion of the season.



However, the club then hit a downward spiral. Relegations in 1994, 1995 and 1997 saw the club back in Division Three, which was consequently, renamed Division Two upon reorganisation.  

In 2004 Dorking finished as runners up and won promotion, but went back down the following year. By 2006 the club went further down the pyramid to join the Combined Counties League. Things turned worse a couple of years later when they were relegated down to Division One of the competition.


The club regrouped and regained their Premier Division place at the first attempt. However, they found themselves at the lower grade once more in 2013 after finishing bottom of the table. 

Worse was to follow as Meadowbank was shut down by the local council due to health and safety concerns during the 2013-14 season, leaving the club to use several venues as ‘home’ grounds to enable The Chicks to complete the season.



At this point a new consortium of businessmen and local football people took over the reigns of the club and set it up as a Community Interest Company run on an entirely voluntary basis, ensuring that any profits would go back into ventures to benefit the community. This ensured free football and coaching for local juniors and the redevelopment of Meadowbank.

While work took place, Dorking agreed a groundshare to play at The New Defence, home of neighbours Horley Town for the 2014-15 season as the team reverted to their original colours of green and red stripes with former coaching staff re-joining while local businesses began sponsorship.



While the new stadium to replace Meadowbank was being constructed, the Dorking Football Development Alliance; formed in 2016 between Dorking FC and Dorking Wanderers FC, announced that Dorking FC were to fold.

It was decided that the town would be better served by just one non-league club representing them. While clubs were not merging; those at Dorking FC very much supported the decision and would back Wanderers.

Dorking FC folded after finishing the 2016-17 season in fifteenth position in Division One of the Combined Counties League.


My visits

Friday 3rd November 2006

With the day off work I decided to get into the mood for the following day when I was travelling north to watch Scarborough play at Droylsden by visiting some new venues.

Having missed my intended train from London Bridge I relaxed before catching the 10am service to Dorking. A ten minute brisk walk through the pretty town saw me at Meadowbank, where a club official was working on the ground.



It was an impressive venue, if showing signs of age. The entrance side had an old Main Stand with red tip up seats, with changing rooms one side and other facilities on the other. A small cover further up the touchline offered protection to standing spectators. The far end had a long low cover right along the goal line. The other end had a couple of steps in the open with grass beyond. The final side had another low cover in the centre, with the dug outs in front. Open standing was either side.

Rather than taking a train back towards the metropolis I found that a bus service ran from near to the railway station to drop me very close to Leatherhead FC; my next destination.
Meadowbank certainly had something about it, and I fully intended to return on a match day.

At Horley Town FC

Dorking 4 Epsom Athletic 5 (Friday 1st August 2014) Combined Counties League Division One (att: 150)



Studying the Non League Paper for future possible fixtures, I was delighted to see that the opening Combined Counties fixture of the season had been arranged for Yorkshire Day. After completing some very handy overtime at work on my usual day off, I enjoyed a fine tea and a beer at baker Street and a cat nap in the sun of Grosvenor Square before catching the train south to Redhill.



The no.100 bus dropped me outside The New Defence within twenty minutes, where I paid my £6 admission which included an A4 sized free glossy programme. It was a very warm and humid evening, following the fashion of the previous few months. To cool down I sampled a pint of Fosters for £3 in the upstairs bar, where patrons were watching the Commonwealth Games.



The ground hadn’t changed since my previous visit, which can be viewed here, and I decided to have a walk to the far side. The match got off to a very lively start with Athletic wasting two glorious chances before The Chicks went ahead. 

Richard Wetton had a good shot saved, but for some reason Epsom ‘keeper Dominic MacKenzie failed to pounce on the ball, allowing Glen Wright to finish. Within eight minutes Epsom were level as Robbie Burns was left unmarked to chest down a clever pass and finish neatly.


MacKenzie pulled off two amazing stops, while the profligate defending continued on twenty nine minutes as Epsom striker Wayne Cathcart bulleted home a header unmarked at the near post from a corner. I joked with a couple of visiting fans and a member of the Dorking coaching staff that the game could easily end 5-5 at the rate it was going.

Before the interval the scores were level as MacKenzie clumsily brought down a forward to concede a penalty which Kieren Lunn calmly put away. I caught my breath with half of cider in the relative cool of the clubhouse during the break.


The action quickly cranked up again upon the restart. Within three minutes Cathcart restored Epsom’s lead with an identical goal to his opener, much to the annoyance of custodian Hodel Murphy.

MacKenzie in the opposing net suffered a real goalkeeping nightmare a minute or so later. He came out to collect full back Zach Powell’s seventy yard free kick, only to let the ball bounce over him and trickle into the empty net. I was sat down by then and shared in the loud laughter with all around.


The hilarity increased. It appeared Murphy felt sorry for his fellow goalkeeper as he completely misjudged a long cross from the impressive Taylor Mollatt to allow Burns to tap into the unguarded goal. Athletic made it 5-3 when Cathcart completed his hat trick from the penalty spot.

Dorking were not finished as they found a second wind following a couple of substitutions. Lunn scored his second of the game to make it 4-5 as his weak shot beat the slow diving Mackenzie. The Chicks continued to pour forward and had one goal disallowed by the excellent referee Stefan Malczewski, as well as hitting the post.


Epsom held on for a victory in a game that had been a credit to the competition and non league football in general.

At full time I walked around a mile instead of waiting for the bus before catching it back to Redhill station. A train arrived soon after allowing me to get back and toast the day with a couple of pints before closing time back in Kingsbury.

Friday 30th December 2017


My good pal Steve Walker needed some provisions delivering out to Bangkok after the package had initially been returned. His mate, colleague and my mutual friend Mark Dunmall was over from Bangkok in his home town of Dorking.


As I was on nights, I took the opportunity to have a ride into deepest Surrey and to also grab a look and see how the redevelopment of Meadowbank was going on? I went there first while there was still some light.


It was certainly very much a work in progress, but at least it was ongoing; something the football supporting public of the town deserved. I had my doubts as to whether it would be ready for the commencement of the 2017-18 season.


It was good to see Mark; albeit briefly. I also got chance to have a brief look at the attractive little town centre, and promise myself an early arrival to try out some promising looking pubs before attending a match.


Little did I know at the time, but when I would get round to seeing a game at the revamped Meadowbank, Dorking FC would be no more and it would have to be for a Dorking Wanderers match. At least the situation appeared to be amicable.












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