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

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Whyteleafe



Whyteleafe FC are a non-league football club from the pretty large village of the same name in east Surrey, around eighteen miles south of central London.

The football club was founded in 1946 to offer recreation to the villagers after the ordeal of World War Two, replacing a former club; Whyteleafe Albion. The new club played in local league football before joining the Surrey Senior League in 1958 when they moved to their Church Road home ground.












The ground was former farmland, with the club utilising former buildings into changing rooms and a clubhouse.

‘The Leafe’ were crowned league champions in 1968-69 before moving to pastures new in 1975 in the shape of the London Spartan League. In 1981 the club switched to Athenian League football, before progressing to the Isthmian League three years later.













At the end of the 1988-89 campaign Whyteleafe were promoted to Division One as runners up under former Crystal Palace legend Steve Kember. The 1999-00 season saw The Leafe embark on a fine FA Cup run beating the likes of Croydon and Bognor Regis Town to reach the first round proper. Chester City were the visitors in a 0-0 draw in front of a gate of 2,164. Whyteleafe went down 3-1 in the replay at Deva Stadium.

The league was re-organised in 2003 so the club were placed in Division One South. At the end of 2011-12 season they were relegated to the Kent League after finishing bottom of the table. After a season of consolidation they ran away with the renamed Southern Counties East League title in 2013-14 to return to the Isthmian League with John Fowler in charge of team affairs.













In the summer of 2014 a new 3G pitch was installed on the main pitch and in the training court. The club continued to be a fulcrum to the greater community with venue hire and its football academy set up.

Whyteleafe FC will play in the Isthmian League Division One South in the 2014-15 season.


My visits

Thursday 22nd November 2007

With a day off work I went wandering into Kent, south London and Surrey. My previous ground had been Selhurst Park, where they’d kindly let me inside. I took the train down to Upper Warlingham and had lunch from the chip shop on a clear but cool day.


 










I walked round to the Church Road ground and took some photos, which in time have been lost. I did consider a further ride to find Chipstead FC but tiredness and the closing light meant it wasn’t to be.

Whyteleafe 2 Tooting & Mitcham United 0 (Saturday 27th December 2014) Isthmian League Division One South (Att: 301)







My spell on night shift continued at work so I wanted a relatively easy game to get to, and with the weather forecasts being a little worrying I decided upon the security of a game on an artificial surface.

The tubes were packed owing to the influx of lines being partly shut for engineering works, tourists, people travelling home from Christmas and local once in a blue moon deciding to take in London’s Christmas ‘experience’ along with all the family. It was hard work.

I was most delighted to get on a train at Victoria, but even that journey was marred by parents seemingly more interested in playing on their smart phones and neglecting their kids, leading to the kids getting bored and misbehaving, which in turn led to the lazy parents shouting at their offspring. What chance do the poor kids have? It was quite sad.












Whyteleafe South was the nearest station to the ground, but the walk was very uphill and without footpaths on country lanes. I got a surge on to try and walk off some of my festive excesses. Within five minutes I was paying my £8 admission along with a further £1.50 for a decent programme. I later found out that the turnstiles once stood at the old Victoria Ground in Stoke.

It was interesting to see that there seemed to be some kind of link up with the Brighton & Hove Albion Academy with Whyteleafe being very much in the territory of bitter enemies Crystal palace, as well as many former links through past managers with The Eagles.

The venue was more or less as I remembered; apart from of course the new 3G pitch. Down one side was sections of open terracing with a neat small seated stand on half way and a small cover for standing support further along. The Railway End had a low cover with flat standing. The far touchline had another small shelter. The main facilities were behind the Church Road End goal. The natural slope at that end had a stand built into it with raised seating and room to stand at the rear. Nearer the corner flag were the changing rooms, toilets and the burger bar.












A steward kindly pointed me towards the bar. It was outside over the car park! Popping back out was no problem and I was soon inside the warm and welcoming clubhouse. I was cheered by a choice of two real ales on offer at £3.50 a pint. I tried both the St Edmunds hoppy offering and the Rocking Rudolf from Hardys and Hansons. Both beers were under the expanding Greene King portfolio but were in good nick, even though the pleasant young staff were having a real struggle with the lighter offering.

Once back in the ground the queue for food was horrendous. Being extremely hungry with just a banana for breakfast I needed solids. The gateman let me out once more so I could get pie and chips from the now empty bar and take them back inside the ground.













There was plenty of good football on offer from the visitors, who were backed by their usual noisy following. One visitor used language that would have made Bernard Manning wince in offering feedback to the players and officials but as ever the vast majority were witty in their appraisals and songs. I enjoyed the “You thought you had scored, so did we, so did we” as a Whyteleafe effort went close.

Sadly for the Terrors fans, all their teams’ possession only created one clear cut chance which was blasted over and onto the stand roof by their cumbersome centre forward. Leafe played more on the counter and through this went ahead with a fine individual goal from veteran performer Roscoe D’Sane on twenty minutes.

At the interval I caught up with fellow Middlesex follower and Tooting fan Mark Turner in the packed bar while we tried to get warm. The temperatures were dropping all the time outside.



The second half followed the same pattern as the first period. Tooting had the vast majority of the play but were lacking a cutting edge. The home defence and midfield were excellent. They looked dangerous on occasions on the break as their choir like vocal support urged them on. They really did have a fine set of voices!

With a minute or so to go I decided it was time to go at the same time as some other fans as I really needed to catch the 5.57 train. Half way to Whyteleafe station I found the news on Twitter that Kurtis Pykes had added a second goal.





For those who have yet to go to a Whyteleafe home game; I recommend it highly. In my opinion it's just about the perfect Step three or four set up. There is plenty of cover and terracing and excellent views behind the goal at one end. The clubhouse was warm and friendly and had a choice of real ales. It was nice to see volunteers of all ages on duty. The only slight fault I could find was that they could perhaps have done with extra help at the tea bar and behind the bar with the large crowd, but show me a club who wouldn't want more help! As I know only too well; that’s easier said than done.

The tubes and crowds were murder once back in town. There was no way I could get downstairs at Victoria. Instead I took a bus to Green Park and then trains to Warren Street where I walked to Euston Square. On arrival at Baker Street trains were forced to terminate because of a signal failure. I was getting desperate for a much needed siesta before work. The crowds were increasing and getting angry, so I reverted to Plan B.












An empty train was about to travel to check if the tunnel was clear. I spoke to the driver and showed my pass. She invited me into the cab with the engineer and I got my first ever ride up front all the way to Wembley Park. As a train buff this rounded off a brilliant afternoon.


Working for TFL does have some huge bonuses, despite the unsociable hours!











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