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 their maintenance.

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 fortunate 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 heightens 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 try today. They'll be delighted 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. Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby as he grows into a young man!

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


November 2018

Saturday, October 3, 2015

New York City (USA)

New York City FC is a professional football club in the USA who were formed on the 21st May 2013. Major League Soccer (MLS) was expanding its league for the 2015 season and required two extra clubs, but the idea of a second New York MLS club back in 2010.

Initially the league opened up talks with Fred Wilpon, the owner of New York Mets baseball club and with owners of the reformed New York Cosmos football club. Wilpon finances were hit in the Madoff investment scandal, while Cosmos joined the second tier North American Soccer League in 2013.

MLS commissioner Dan Garber had previously hinted about an existing European club owning an MLS franchise. FC Barcelona were briefly interested in taking the franchise for a Miami based team, but the bid fell through.

In August 2002, Barca’s vice president of the time, Ferran Soriano became the new CEO of Manchester City. Garber got back in contact regarding a New York franchise. Rumours amassed that the new club had been registered before an announcement was made that City would become the twentieth MLS franchise under the ownership of City Football Group and Yankee Global Enterprises; the owners of New York Yankees baseball club.

The plans for a new stadium in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park had to be abandoned after protests from the nearby Mets and because it would be on current parkland. Instead plans were announced to build a stadium in the Bronx close to Yankee Stadium by 2018. In the meantime the club would play home games at Yankee Stadium.

Former Manchester City and US international player Claudio Reyna was made director of football operations in charge of recruiting the coaching staff and players for City’s inaugural 2015 season.

Reyna appointed former Real Salt Lake boss Jason Kreis as head coach in 2014 to allow him time to travel to the UK to acclimatise himself with the workings of owners Manchester City.

Manchester City bought Melbourne Heart in 2014, the Australian A League club and changed their name to Melbourne City. New York named Spanish superstar David Villa as their first of three designated signings. He was immediately loaned out to the Melbourne club.

In July 2014, Frank Lampard’s signature was captured after his contract ran out at Chelsea. In a controversial move Manchester City took the England international on loan for the English 2014-15 season, meaning a late arrival to the 2015 MLS campaign.

In July 2015 the Italian midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo was signed. The clubs first ever regulated match came against Scottish side St Mirren with Villa scoring the clubs first ever goal.

Large crowds flocked to Yankee Stadium but the team went eleven games without victory after a promising start. New York Cosmos defeated City on penalties in the US Open Cup.

New York City FC will play in the MLS Eastern Conference in the 2015 season.

My visit

New York Yankees 6 Chicago White Sox 1 (Sunday 27th September 2015) MLB American League (att: 38,690)

While visiting New York, it would have seemed silly as a huge sport fan not to take in some action at Yankee Stadium. As New York City didn’t have a home fixture during my time in the city, it was left to my first ever baseball game to get my fix.

My trip was going brilliantly. Even the cock up with Greyhound buses that meant the abandonment of my day visit to Boston on the Saturday was more than made up for with sightseeing and the match at Fordham Rams.

My Sunday morning was spent getting in some invaluable exercise as well as sightseeing as I hired a bicycle and went round 11km of Central Park in just over an hour. I felt really good after a shower and change as I jumped on board the B subway train to Yankee Stadium/161 Street.

Advice from friends had warned me of the expensive concessions inside the stadium. I’d already been bit in that department at the Red Bull Arena a couple of nights earlier. I found a deli where I purchased a bacon cheeseburger, kettle chips and water for far less than one beer inside.

I had taken time to have a brief look at Heritage Field, which is where the original Yankee Stadium had stood until 2010. Dubbed ‘The House that Ruth Built’, it now had a few baseball diamonds for community use. Several bars were over the road under the railway bridge, with many souvenir stands. I purchased a Yankees sun hat, joking that the NY stood for North Yorkshire.

My ticket was for the fourth tier of the stadium, but entrance was permitted through all gates, which led to a huge concourse at the rear of the first tier. I couldn’t gain access but The Great Hall provided patrons with executive facilities behind the home plate area. The seating tiers were continuous up the sides, curving slightly beyond the foul poles. The open bleachers area is separated by a huge scoreboard, with a smaller one either side. Memorial Park stands underneath, where great Yankee players are honoured with the practise bull park areas at either side. It reminded me a lot of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Eventually I found my seat. I had to break half way round for the Star Spangled Banner. I couldn’t have entered at a further gate from where I need to be. I was certainly ready for my lunch when I got settled. It was a bit disappointing to see such a meagre attendance. There is no way that the official figure was accurate. The stadium has a capacity of 49,642. You can judge from my photos for yourself.

The faint line markings of the City football pitch were still visible from my view. I would have been sat right above the north goal. Capacity for City games was set at 33,444 for the regular 2015 season. It would have been interesting to see how it worked out.

My friends were correct about the concessions. It was $11 for a pint of beer, and some of the food was top dollar prices too. I had made a wise move. The silly thing was if the beer was cheaper I’d have indulged; a point I made in an email when Yankees asked for my feedback.

The game itself turned out to be one sided, not that I was bothered. I loved the game. I’d got a basic grasp of it, while fully appreciating it must have had many nuances that weren’t immediately obvious. It was a continuous gripe of mine; sports fans who slate other sports without trying to give them a fair chance. Baseball was so similar to T20 cricket in my book. My biggest fear was that I’d get totally hooked and get involved with the many statistics just like my first love.

Like every sport I’ve ever experienced, it was soon aware that baseball was far better off seen live from the stands. You simply get to see everything. Not just what the TV director wants you to see.

It was rookie pitcher Luis Severino who set of the win for the twenty seven time world champions, who still required a couple more victories to seal a wild card place in the end of season play-offs. Severino fired six scoreless innings as the Chicago batters struggled.

The Yankees went 1-0 up in the first and the score remained the same half way through the sixth. The lead was extended to 3-0 as Dustin Ackley hit a solo home run and Scott Heathcott ran in from third base.

Severino was rested with Justin Wilson taking his place on the mound. Avisail Garcia got the White Sox back into the game with a home run, but Yankees did not take lone to reassert their authority.

Jacoby Ellsbury fired a run scoring-single and two runs in the eighth on a Greg Bird run-scoring and a Heathcott sacrifice fly. The crowd even got a brief appearance from fan favourite Alex Rodriguez as he batted for Bird in the seventh. 

Traditional songs were played between innings to keep everyone involved and entertained. YMCA saw the crowd and the groundsmen dancing along. God Bless America came following the introduction of a World War Two veteran. If only we saluted heroes and showed a bit of patriotism in the UK! The staple anthem of Take Me Out to the Ballpark saw fans swaying arm in arm. It was all top stuff. I was sold.

Frank Sinatra’s New York New York boomed out as Yankees sealed the win, not needing to bat in the 9th inning. I had loved every minute of it and decided that Yankees were the team for me.

I took my time getting out and then looking at the tributes to the legendary Yogi Beara who had passed away a few days earlier and the information board detailing Babe Ruth’s impact on the club. It was a pretty special history all right.

Despite the warning of the prices and a bit corny, I headed for Stan’s Bar to try one or three local beers as the quality music blasted out. It really did feel like I was in New York. I found a cheap chicken shop, which was better value and quality than anything in London just around the corner before taking a train home for a siesta to recharge for a few drinks in town on my last night.

To see my clips from Yankee Stadium, click on the link below:


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