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, October 3, 2015

Fordham Rams (USA)

Fordham Rams is the name of the varsity sports teams of Fordham University in New York. The University was established in 1841 as a private and independent concern affiliated to Roman Catholicism. As in 2015, Fordham enrolled 15,000 students across three campus across New York State; Rose Hill in the Bronx, Lincoln Center in Manhattan, and Westchester in West Harrison.

The Rams have men’s teams for baseball, American football, golf, squash and water polo. Women compete alone in softball, rowing and volleyball, whereas both sexes have teams in basketball, cross country, football, swimming and diving, tennis and track and field. All teams compete in the NCAA; the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the Division One Atlantic 10 Conference.

Amongst the famous alumni to have graced Fordham’s teams in sports are Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Frankie Frisch, Bill Chadwick who is in the Ice Hockey Hall of Fame and legendary American Football coach Vince Lombardi.

Non sporting greats to have studied at Fordham include Denzel Washington, Alan Alda and Lana Del Rey.

Fordham Rams Soccer will play in the NCAA Division 1 Atlantic 10 Conference in the 2015 season.

My visit

Fordham Rams 0 New Jersey Institute Technology Highlanders 0 (Saturday 26th September 2015) NCAA Division One (att: approx. 120)

It’s strange how plans can go astray leading to unexpected findings if you are prepared to communicate and be open minded and experimental.

I awoke in my room at the West Side YMCA by Columbus Circle in New York all ready to catch the Greyhound coach at 7am up to Boston to sightsee and then attend the MLS game between New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union.

Pre planning had included getting in touch with the Midnight Runners supporters group who had arranged me a ride to Roxborough with Revs fan Jim Encalada for the pre match tailgate party. I’d even written the foreword for my blog page.

It is fair to say that I was not exactly amused when I arrived at the Port Authority Bus Terminal to find disgruntled passengers who were scheduled on the 4.15 bus, only the driver hadn’t turned up. Add in those who were now gathering in hope of a seat on the 7am service and you get the picture. The latest rumour suggested that the first bus to depart would not be until at least 8am, not that there would be room for everyone.

I went upstairs to the hopelessly undermanned enquiry desk. Eventually it was agreed to pay me my return bus fare. I took a complaint form in the hope of retrieving the expenses for my match ticket up north as well as my trolley bus tour ticket.

I sat in Central Park trying to work out what entertainment I could take as my replacement. Facebook was my friend as I uploaded a video and request for friends near the web who may offer suggestions. I was annoyed as much as anything as I’d got out of bed at a silly hour and broken off a top night in Rudy’s to make sure I made my ride. There was no merit in moping. I went back to my room to catch up on some sleep.

Suggestions had come in all shapes and sizes during my snooze. Ice Hockey in Brooklyn, American Football in New Jersey and Baseball at Yankee Stadium. Some had just left pub details to watch the Premier League and Rugby World Cup.

However, the winning suggestion came from my cricket pal Chris Felton. He pointed me in the direction of Fordham Rams. His tip was the 3pm encounter at Jack Coffey Field between the Rams and Monmouth Hawks. After checking the Rams website I saw that this was the US style of football, but at 7pm the soccer teams were taking on NJIT. This was good!

The pubs showing the rugby between England and Wales wanted a $20 cover charge, so this was dismissed. Instead I enjoyed lunch and a fantastic look around the south end of Manhattan, taking in Battery Park, Bowling Green and the Financial District. The full time rugby score confirmed I’d made a good choice.

The MTA Metro-North train to Fordham left from Grand Central, so that killed another sightseeing must at the same time. What an amazing building the terminus turned out to be. Milan has an impressive station, but this was something else. After a bite to eat I found the correct track.

The journey took just over twenty minutes to the Bronx. Fordham station was in a state of flux. To get off we had to walk over temporary bridges to reach the far platform to make an exit.

East Fordham Road looked quite a hub of activity outside. The Bronx obviously had some very good areas. Within a few yards I came across an entrance to the campus. I told the guard that I was there for the soccer and he was most helpful offering directions.

Fordham University Rose Hill Campus was a stunning place. The grounds had plentiful greens and some magnificent architecture. Happy looking students were going about their business as I cut my way across the campus, taking a look at Murphy Field, the home of Fordham softball and then going past the historic Rose Hill Gymnasium.

The Rams website had appealed to ‘Fill the Jack’ for the football in the afternoon. The team had won 54-31 and pictures showed that supporters had responded to the call. It didn’t look like the soccer team garnered the same enthusiasm.

Jack Coffey Field had just one large open grandstand for 7,000 spectators. Metal benches flanked a section off maroon seating with a media centre at the top. The rest of the field was open, with a scoreboard behind the north goal with Houlihan Park baseball field joining on the far side.

Admission was free, as was a four page programme, which were both unexpected and happily received. None of the concession stands under the seating were open; nor was the souvenir hut.

The pitch which had earlier staged the ‘other’ football had pitch markings for both sports on the artificial Fieldturf surface. I found this a little confusing. I just hoped that the officials didn’t. It took me back to when American Football was at its most popular back in the early 90’s. I was playing ‘soccer’ on a field with duel markings to stage a later game for Scarborough Warlords when the referee incorrectly gave me offside when I set off clean on goal from my own half. He’d confused it with a ten yard marking.

The first thing that struck me was that the beautiful hot sunny day was now turning into a cold night. I was hopelessly underdressed in just my Scarborough away shirt and cargo pants, without the bottom half. I even had to take my Yorkshire cap off to add to the chill during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

The teams were introduced in true American style before kick off. Rams in all white with a maroon diagonal band started off well against the all red clad Highlanders who played in the Sun Belt Conference. The visitor’s junior keeper Marco Luna, flapped at an early effort which hit the crossbar. Doberman from Sergeant Bilko fame was my first thoughts. I was sure I was about to see goals.

Just like many of my bets back home, I was way off. Both sides played some fine fluent football without testing the goalkeepers often enough. It was a good standard of football. Rams had many continental recruits in their line up.

It is always very difficult to make comparisons to league’s in other countries. This was even harder owing to the age of the players. How would they do against grizzly old pros across Europe relying on their win bonus?

It appeared that a certain amount of rolling substitutions were permitted, which I’m definitely not against. It would certainly allow managers and coaches across the globe to keep their players interested and involved.

A fine acrobatic effort just failed to put the Rams ahead, as the crowd slowly grew. By this point I was suffering with the cold. How I wished that I’d taken some extra layers with me.

Just before the break, Rams Ghanian goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu pull off two good saves in quick succession from Victor Kausch to keep the scoreline blank at the interval.

At this point I decided enough was enough.

I headed back to Fordham station and caught the 8.06 train back towards town. Being the ingenious and inventive traveller I am, I saw that the train stopped at 125th Street. I also noted that several lines stopped there before proceeding to Columbus Circle, right by my hotel.

What I didn’t account for was that there were three 125th Street Stations. The one I required was at the other end of it. I got out in East Harlem. It was only a block’s walk to the subway station, but that Lou Reid, was a ‘Walk on the Wild Side’.

Relieved to be heading into town I eventually got out at 57th Street and walked along the south side of Central Park before having a warming a shower and change before heading down to Rudy’s for some much needed refreshments.

The following morning I caught up with the final score, which was still blank after overtime and read the website reports.

My visit to Fordham was certainly never planned, but I will not forget the day for a very long time!


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