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, September 7, 2015

Prescot Cables

Prescot Cables FC is a non-league football club from the town of Prescot on Merseyside in the north west of England. The club was formed in 1897 as Prescot FC joining the Lancashire Combination.

Within a year they departed that competition before becoming members of the Lancashire League for the 1901-02 season. During the 1927-28 season, now as Prescot Cables, they took over the place of Fleetwood in the Lancashire Combination, who resigned after playing 22 matches.

The addition of ‘Cables’ to the club name came from the largest local employer, British Insulated Cables, which was originally founded in 1890 as the British Insulated Wire Company, and later became part of BICC.

Cables finished as runners-up for three consecutive seasons from 1930–31 to 1932–33. In 1932 the clubs Valerie Park home hosted its record attendance of 8,122 in a game against Ashton National.

Cables were relegated to the Combination’s second tier in 1951, before returning as champions at the first attempt; going on to become league runners-up again in 1952-53. The fluctuating fortunes continued at Valerie Park with another relegation and instant promotion before Prescot finally became Lancashire Combination champions for the 1956-57 season, before finishing as runners-up in the following couple of campaigns.

Shortly after the club changed its name to Prescot Town. In 1966 they were relegated once again, but bounced back at the first attempt. The late 60’s saw clubs depart for the newly formed Northern Premier League. In 1975 Prescot departed for the Mid-Cheshire League.

Within a year the club became champions before moving to the Cheshire League as founder members of Division Two in 1978. In 1979-80 they lifted the Division Two crown; changing back to Prescot Cables at the same time.

In 1982-83 Cables became founder members of North West Counties League, winning promotion to Division One in 1986-87. In 1990 ‘Cables’ was dropped from the club title once again as they became the original name of Prescot. However, within five years Cables was re-added.

After becoming North West Counties League runners-up on goal difference in 2001-02, Cables were crowned as champions in 2002-03 and winning promotion to the Northern Premier League Division One North from where they went up to the Premier Division at the first attempt thanks to the restructuring of the non-league game.

After a fifth place finish in the top flight, Cables saw a change in organisation, with a new football committee formed from the Supporter's Club taking over the reins of the club. Andy Gray took over as manager following the resignation of Tommy Lawson.

Gray’s side finished in mid table for three consecutive seasons before they went down at the end of the 2008-09 campaign, with the manager departing for Burscough. Former boss Joe Gibiliru returned as team manager.

After the departure of Gibiliru in November 2010 Cables went through several managers in a short period, including Shaun Reid, before Neil Prince, who had earlier had a successful spell in charge of Bootle took over in the summer of 2014.

Prince departed as manager following three heavy defeats at the start of the 2015-16 season, with former club goalkeeper Andy Paxton taking over.

Prescot Cables FC will play in the Northern Premier League Division One North in the 2015-16 season.

My visit

Prescot Cables 1 Scarborough Athletic 1 (Saturday 5th September 2015) Northern Premier League Division One North (att: 270)

Long afternoon journeys sandwiched between night shifts are always a precarious adventure. Time is precious and you are reliant on not much going wrong. My trip to Merseyside had a few glitches!

To start off with yet another communications error at the fun factory saw me leaving thirty minutes late. I grabbed two and a half hours shut eye before I was up and heading to Euston for the train north.

Knowing I required some more sleep I chose what looked to be a quiet carriage when I got on board. Just as we were scheduled to leave, the car filled up. A couple and their toddler sat across the aisle from me. Two couples sat at the table a bit further down. My experience over the years has been pretty good in sussing out loud passengers.

The lady train manager came over the tannoy to announce that the driver hadn’t turned up for work and we were delayed. This was hilarious for those with time to waste, but very annoying in the extreme for those of us who hadn’t. After a twenty minute delay a replacement pilot had been found and we were on our way.

I must have been tired. I grabbed quite a lot of shut eye, despite my sub-conscious recounting the large jolly big mouthed woman at the table letting us all know about the their forthcoming weekend in Liverpool. The kid was also having a bout of screaming. To round off the picture, two loud youths got on directly behind me at Stafford. All were having a ball, and fair play to them. It’s just some of us like quiet journeys.

It’s fair to say that if I made daft journeys, then I should get no sympathy. However, this was different. It was a journey I couldn’t wait to make.

For the previous three years I’d restructured and run the administration of Joint Ownerships for Scarborough Athletic. I’d had a turbulent summer with the death of my Dad and the uncertainties of my job. It was time for some ‘me time’ and a rest. I was going to Prescot to hand over the stationary and paperwork.

Inevitably enough I’d missed my connection at Lime Street. The station was teeming with police. I was told that there were political rallies taking place outside. The bald headed middle aged men sort of gave a clue. Either that or I’d inadvertently stumbled against the second Gay Pride in six days. 

As it turned out I arrived in Prescot thirty minutes later than planned. I headed into town past some new neat housing and a huge retail park where industry once thrived. The small town centre seemed very pleasant on a late summers day. Within fifteen minutes Boro director Steve Smith was waiting outside the gates to relieve me of my luggage with a really nice and appreciated thank you and welcome.

The nice welcome from Boro chairman Dave Holland was also really good. I had respect and sympathy for Dave and the rest of the board. They did a bloody good job under lots of criticism, but they’d kept the club alive and well despite playing out of town for eight years. They deserved so much more.

As soon as I entered Valerie Park, I was in a decent mood. The ground was a cracker. The outstanding feature was the magnificent main stand with a big steep seating deck above a few steps of terracing. The cover and terracing at the entrance end was also first class. The other two sides had just a bit of hard standing, backed by grass banking. It took me back to my formative years as a Boro away fan.

The welcome from the home club officials was also first class under the stand in a bar that many Football League clubs would kill for. To add to the ambience they had two hand pulled ales. The light one I tried was absolutely spot on. It was nice to catch up with so many old friends and faces, but somehow it didn’t seem the same. I’d have moved heaven and earth to text Dad with updates.

I watched the game get underway from the brilliant view in the seats. Within three minutes Boro were ahead when Ryan Qualter headed home a corner at the back post. Prescot hadn’t yet won a point in the league but had installed a new manager which brought about a much improved performance in the FA Cup the week before. A local told me that all their players were amateurs. Boro on the other hand had won their previous four league games without conceding a goal and were definitely semi-professional.

I texted the score and suggested it looked like a big win was on the cards. It could well have been the case, but after a very good opening the Seadog players seemed to suffer from complacency and not getting the basics right.

The forwards failed to bend or time their runs and were caught offside at will. The midfielders didn’t use the full width of the pitch, or when Dominic Rowe did, he failed to get past his man. Instead he cut inside to allow the hard working Cables players to get back behind the ball. On too many occasions the back four launched aimless balls in the air towards the front two, who were becoming more frustrated by the minute.

Cables were getting into the game and began to pose a few problems. As their confidence grew they produced some decent football. After a couple of scares Rob Doran headed home powerfully seven minutes before the break. The goal was fully deserved.

The start of the second period followed suit. Boro, in their red and white hoops emulated the similarly clad Wigan Warriors Rugby League Club in their aggression and physique in some cases. I had been critical that the side was a little lightweight the season before, but this new approach was a little too reliant on brute force rather than football for my liking.

Frustration was coming from the bench, fans and players; who were not helping their cause by moaning at the referee who naturally enough ignored or even gave fifty fifty decisions against Boro. The locals loved it and weren’t short with humorous baiting.

The introduction of Alex Metcalfe and Alex Peterson brightened things a bit, but Cables were still very dangerous on the break. Peter Davidson was doing his best to show class and beat the home players on the deck. If only more had tried similarly?

Gary Bradshaw had reasonable claims of a penalty when he and a defender came together when clean through. I’ve seen them given, but the ref waived away the appeals. Perhaps the previous whining had swayed him?

In the last few minutes Cables looked more likely to get the winner. A couple of breaks caused problems. One was averted through a combination of stand in goalkeeper Rob Zand and star defender and skipper Nathan Peat. A corner in the last minute of stoppage time was scrambled away from the line.

A draw was the correct result, even if the game was poor. The pitch looked like it could do with a good cut, and this didn’t help with flowing football, but credit to Cables. They wanted it.

On my way back to the station I got a take away at McDonalds while listening to the cricket ODI between England and Australia, just as the Ben Stokes obstructing the field incident was played out. I nearly dropped my food. This was beyond the pail for me as someone who tries to endorse the spirit of the game. I was really angry, as were the excellent TMS radio team.

After a wait for connections at Wigan North West I was delighted to get on the train and find that after a nearby stop at Warrington, it was full steam ahead to Euston. The carriage was devoid of noise and passengers. I fell asleep at Crewe and awoke at Wembley. That was a good journey!

It was certainly better than the football, the sportsmanship of the Australian cricket team and the incompetence of the umpires!

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