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

Thursday, February 25, 2016

CF Benfica (Portugal)

Clube Futebol Benfica is a sports club from the northern suburb of Benfica  in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, who are more commonly known as Futebol Benfica or Fófó. The origins of the club dates back to 1895 when Grupo Foot-ball Benfica were formed, but the club was reformed to its current model on the 23rd March 1933.

The club has departments for hockey, roller hockey, figure skating, camping, walking, acrobatic gymnastics, cycling, rugby, tennis, handball, karate, tai chi and yoga amongst other activities, but they are best known for the high level ladies football team as well the men’s side who are concentrated on below.

CFB moved into Estádio Francisco Lázaro on formation. It was named in tribute to the Portuguese Olympic marathon runner Francisco Lázaro who died during the race at the 1912 Stockholm games.

The football team competed in the regional Associação de Futebol de Lisboa for most of their history. The second division was won in 1977-78 following by the lifting of the first division in 1987-88 to progress to the Divisão de Honra.

In 1990-91 the side had moved up to the national fourth tier Terceira Divisão, but went back down a year later. However, promotion was secured once again in 1994-94 as the Lisbon Honra title was collected.

Futebol Benfica enjoyed eight seasons in the fourth tier playing in Série E and F, before being relegated in 2002-03. After two seasons in Distrital Divisão Honra, Fófó regained their national status for just one season before returning to regional football.

Another promotion was achieved in 2007-08, but once again the team’s spell in the higher grade lasted just one season. It would be another two seasons of regional football before CFB would play in the fourth tier once again.

On this occasion the run continued as the club found themselves winning Série E and being promoted to the third tier of national football to play in Segunda Divisão. In 2013–14 the same league became known as Campeonato Nacional de Seniores, with CFB finishing in the relegation group of Serie G after the regular season.

The team ended bottom of the pile after the relegation rounds and were consequently relegated back to the Distritais.

CF Benfica will play in the Divisão de Honra da A.F. Lisboa in the 2015-16 season.

My visit

Saturday 13th February 2016

My first morning of a long weekend in Lisbon was going well. I had already visited Casa Pia AC and had seen an old venue of character before jumping back on the number 711 bus. The weather was gloomy, but my enthusiasm was high as I felt like I was in the heart of the city.

My plan had been to visit the home of CD Estrela and then return to CF Benfica before heading to Sporting CP for their stadium tour at 11.30. However, as I looked out from the bus window I saw a raised cover and floodlights. It was only when we turned into R Oliverio Silva that we went past the entrance that it registered where we were.

As I’d noticed that the gates to the ground were open, I jumped off the bus at the next stop and went back past local street traders peddling their wares such as socks and washing products. I passed an indoor and street market on the way to the entrance. This was proper Lisbon, and walking distance from Estádio da Luz where I’d seen the match the evening before at the home of CF Benfica’s more illustrious but totally unconnected neighbours.

The ramp up to the entrance took me to the forecourt with small sided artificial surfaced pitches built into the hill with Parque Silva Porto beyond. I continued past the club restaurant and offices into the excellent Estádio Francisco Lázaro.

This venue really did impress me. It would have been a ground towards the higher end of non-league football back in the UK. Youngsters were taking part in a match on a small sided marked out artificial pitch, with parents watching from the side.

The road end was flat open standing. The far side had a few rows of seating with parts under a low roof. The entrance side had raised club buildings and then a lovely raised covered seated stand straddling the half way line. Further up were the changing rooms built into the hill with open whitewashed terracing continuing around the corner and behind the far goal.

It really was tempting to try and find out the fixtures over the weekend to return to watch a game and enjoy the facilities as well as going local around the markets. However, I had plans in place, so I stuck by them. I headed off getting slightly lost before getting back on track towards CD Estrela.


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