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

Estádio Nacional (Lisbon)

The Estádio Nacional, which is also known as Estádio do Jamor or Estádio Honra, forms part of the Jamor Sports Complex in Oeiras, which is located in the western extremities of the Portuguese capital. Construction began in 1939, with its inauguration taking place on Portugal Day, 10th June 1944.

From 1945 Estádio Nacional became the most used stadium for the Portuguese national football team until the new stadiums were all upgraded for Euro 2004.

From 1946, with just a few exceptions, the stadium became the venue for the final of the Taça de Portugal (Portuguese Cup). It was designed by Francisco Caldeira Cabral, with the outstanding feature being a vacant east side of an otherwise continuous bowl.  

Estádio Nacional’s main claim to fame was when it staged the 1967 UEFA European Cup Final between Celtic and Internazionale. The Italians were the overwhelming favourites going into the game, but the Scots were roared on my a huge following and came back from a Sandro Mazzola opener to win the game with goals from Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers.

The kick off was at 5.30pm local time as the stadium didn’t have floodlights at the time. Celtic fans invaded the pitch at full time, meaning that skipper Billy McNeill couldn’t receive the trophy as intended on the pitch. He was ushered outside the stadium and taken to a podium half way up the west side where he was presented with the cup.

All of Celtic’s side were born within miles of Glasgow, but they became known as the Lisbon Lions, with a stand at Celtic Park later being named the Lisbon Lions Stand.

Floodlights were later added to the stadium, as it also became a concert venue. SL Benfica completed their fixtures at Jamor in the 2003-04 season while their new Estádio da Luz was being built.

Estádio Nacional was also chosen as a proposed venue for Portuguese rugby union club Lusitanos XV from 2014. However, the team ended up playing their matches in the Amlin Challenge Cup at Estádio Universitário de Lisboa.

My visit

Sunday 14th February 2016

Although my Sunday morning had gone well with visits to the excellent stadiums of Atletico CP and Belenenses, the weather was a real pain. As I alighted from the train at Cruz Quebrada from Belem yet another massive downpour landed on the station.

After sheltering on the opposite platform from the strong north wind and rain I wandered round the corner to the main road, from where the route up the hill to the stadium was well signposted. I had read that it would it be at least a twenty minute walk.

Avenida Pierre de Coubertin took me first to a large sports hall, with the Parque Urbano dp Jamor on the right. All the area was well landscaped with trees and greenery. Several joggers were using the complex with its mixtures of terrain and undulations.

Eventually the floodlights came into view and before I knew it I was at the open side of the stadium. I walked across the large square and got a look inside through the metal fences. Runners were using the track around the pitch, so I knew that there must have been some kind of access inside.

Just further along I followed a road to a small courtyard with several buildings. A security guard came out to see what I was doing. I managed to communicate as best as I could and he nodded and held his fingers up, which I took to mean that I had five minutes.

I entered at the bottom of the north east corner and went up the steps to the first concourse to gain a better view. The stadium was a continuous open tier of seating, save the vacant east side. The pitch in the middle of the running track was marked out for football and in pristine condition. The far side had a VIP section, with the podium where Billy McNeill lifted the European Cup easy to pick out.

It must have been some expedition back in 1967. After travelling by any possible means of transport to Lisbon, the Celtic fans will then have been left with the task of reaching this remote venue. Did they put special buses on or did they take the train and then have to trek up the hill? Just how did it work?

After savouring the feeling that I really was in a place of great football history, I went back to the office and said “obrigado” to the guard. I’d have loved to have engaged him in what I’d experienced and the history of the place, but he looked peaceful enough having to work on a Sunday lunchtime.

There was plenty more to see at Jamor. I cut down the steps with a golf course to the left and rugby pitches in front, with the main one having some old raised concrete terracing. The tennis centre was ahead but I cut along between a couple of hockey pitches and an athletic track and football pitch.

Yet another storm landed right on top. Those who’d parked up and were out for a stroll scattered. The girls awaiting the start of their hockey game were getting absolutely soaking. It was also very cold. Thank goodness it was at my back, but I could feel the rain drenching the back of my trousers. I was so relieved to make the café a hundred metres further up the patch.

How I longed for a large mug of tea, but hot drinks mainly came in the form of expressos in Portugal. That was better than nothing. At least I was under cover along with several others who waited for the downpour to subside.

Passing a mini golf and pleasant scenery in the park I wandered through and out of the bottom gate back to the station, where I looked back up the hill at the really pleasant complex. What a super facility it was for all members of the community.

The skies were ever threatening as I caught the train further west towards my afternoons entertainment by way of the Primeira Liga match between Estoril and Tondela.

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