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 23, 2015

Havant & Waterlooville

Havant & Waterlooville is a non league football club based in the Hampshire town of Havant near to England’s south coast. The club were formed following a merger of Havant Town and Waterlooville in 1998.

Waterlooville FC had been formed in 1908 playing at Jubilee Park on Alston Road in the town. After playing local league football, the club progressed to the Hampshire League in 1953. In 1968 they reached the first round of the FA Cup before bowing out to Kettering Town.

‘The Ville’ progressed to the Southern League by 1971, reaching the Premier Division at the first time of asking. However, their spell there lasted just one season. A record home gate of 4,500 flocked to Jubilee Park for a first round FA Cup tie against Wycombe Wanderers in 1976. Another appearance under manager John Milkins came in 1983. This time Northampton Town ended the run after a replay.

A couple further promotions and relegations came about before spending the last four seasons in Division One South before the merger with their neighbours. New housing on Coronation Road replaced Jubilee Park.

Havant Town had originally been formed as Havant FC playing in local football before a merger of their own with FA Sunday Cup winners Leigh Park in 1958 to become Havant & Leigh Park FC.

In 1970 the club became members of the Hampshire League. Three promotions saw them in Division One within seven years. The club played at their basic Front Lawn home before purchasing West Leigh Park in 1980, before moving in two years later as Havant Town.

In 1986 Town became founder members of the Wessex League, going on to win the title in 1990-91. This led to promotion to the Southern League Division One South. They remained there until 1998 when merging with Waterlooville.

Former Crystal palace and Portsmouth defender Billy Gilbert was named as manager of the newly formed club who remained at West Leigh Park. The team won promotion to the Premier Division at the first attempt.

Mick Jennings and Liam Daish became joint managers in April 2000 taking The Hawks to the first round stage of the FA Cup on a couple of occasions before going out to Southport and then Dagenham & Redbridge. Havant also reached the semi final of the FA Trophy in 2003 before Tamworth ended their dreams.

Following re-organisation of non league football, Havant & Waterlooville were placed in Conference South for the 2004-05 campaign.

After a period of struggle in the league, Jennings and Daish were replaced by Ian Baird. The 2006-07 saw the team reach the play offs, but Braintree Town were victorious in the semi final. Another FA Cup first round appearance came with a ‘home’ game against Millwall, which was switched to Fratton Park.

Baird departed in October 2007 with Shaun Gale taking over. He soon made his mark with a magnificent FA Cup run which saw The Hawks put out Bognor Regis Town, Fleet Town, Leighton Town, York City and then Notts County to set up a third round clash with League One side Swansea City.

A 4-2 victory in the replay set up a round four visit to Anfield to face Liverpool. Remarkably Havant led twice before eventually going down 5-2.

Gale was sacked in April 2012 following poor results. A stoppage time goal in the final match of the season ensure the Hawks survived in Conference South. Former player Stuart Ritchie was brought in as the new manager in may 2012, but he lasted just a few months before being replaced by former Portsmouth hero Lee Bradbury.

Bradbury’s side finished just one place outside the play off positions at the culmination of the 2013-14 season.

Havant & Waterlooville Fc will play in the Conference South in the 2014-15 season.

My visits

Wednesday 5th March 2008

With a day off work I had purchased an all day ticket on Southern Railways to get out and about taking some photos of football grounds.

It was a lovely day weather wise and I’d just taken the long walk to the old Church Road home of Chichester City. The walk on arrival in Havant was not as close as I had hoped!

Thankfully West Leigh Park was open. Unfortunately, I have since lost the pictures along with hundreds of others owing to a serious PC issue. What I can remember was a fine venue with a raised stand and plenty of terracing and cover.

Fortunately I managed to catch a bus back to the station before heading to my next point of call; Fratton Park.

Havant & Waterlooville 1 Maidenhead United 1 (Saturday 21st February 2015) Conference South (att: 766)

It was my turn for Saturday night shift but I figured the cheap £10 return rail fare booked well in advance and timings would mean it easy enough for my sleeps. I presume the service was trouble free as I dozed for much of the journey from Victoria before arriving in Havant around 2.20.

I decided to walk to Westleigh Park. It was a bright but cool day as I marched the mile or so. If there is such a post of Head of Tourism in the town, I reckoned on them having a tough gig, as it certainly wasn’t much to look at. I was concerned I was headed in the right direction or the game had been postponed as I saw no other fans until a hundred yards from the ground.

All was busy around the car park and outside The Westleigh pub next to the entrance as I paid my £12 admission along with £2 for a pocket sized programme. Once inside I was as impressed as when I took my photos on my previous visit.

Both ends had covered terraces. The Main Stand was up the near touchline with more covered terracing next to it. The far side, which was open when I last called had a roof over it, but the lack of steps meant a poorish view; especially in the areas near to the dugouts. Opposite corners had catering units, with a club shop and a stall just serving hot and cold drinks in the other two. The covering produced decent acoustics on the occasions the home fans got behind their side.

The pitch however, was a different story. It sloped down to the car park end and large areas were missing grass and had been patched up as best as the groundsman could. He was on his roller before kick off and at half time. It didn’t help the game in its fluidity or skill levels. It continues to astonish me when some fans shout out against 3G pitches. Surely they are better for the game and the clubs who install them?

Havant were more physical than their Berkshire visitors and relied more on getting the ball forward quickly. Maidenhead had more subtlety in their play. It made for an intriguing contest.

I was amused while queueing for my excellent feed of cheeseburger with chips and curry sauce when a couple of wags in the line decided to mock the visitors Dave Tarpey taking a corner on his lack of height. They let him know how embarrassing it must have been to be smaller than the corner flag pole. They roared with laughter when he scuffed his kick. Five minutes later Tarpey finished smartly at the near post to give his side the lead. He seemed to enjoy it!

The Hawks saw two players go off injured before the break to restrict their attacking options before the break as the game followed the same pattern. Kicking up the slope in the second period seemed to suit them as balls were sent wide for winger Ben Swallow to deliver.

Eventually Havant equalised when a teasing Swallow cross was headed home by Daniel Blanchett on the hour. The home side continued to press, but they were occasionally exposed on the counter attack. Several fouls were leading to the home fans frustration as United’s rearguard continued to put their bodies on the line.

The Magpies should really of sealed all three points when another fine break set up Tarpey, but he was denied by a brilliant close range stop by Havant keeper and captain; Ryan Young.

Maidenhead had to play the last ten minutes with ten men after full back Leon Soloman was deservedly sent off for a reckless challenge to collect a second yellow. His keeper Ashley Timms was to be the hero in stoppage time with a wonder save from a clever near post flick.

The full time score was about right. I caught the 31 bus back to the town centre before taking the 5.30 back to Victoria in good sleepy mood.

It had been a decent afternoon out and a good new tick aided by Scarborough Athletic's win at Clitheroe.

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