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

London

September 2015

Friday, February 19, 2016

G.D. Estoril Praia (Portugal)


Grupo Desportivo Estoril Praia, more commonly known as Estoril is a professional football club from the Portuguese resort of Estoril, which is located just over nine miles west of the capital Lisbon. The football club was formed on the 17th May 1939.



The most prominent early founder was Fausto Cardoso de Figueiredo, the wealthy owner of the Lisbon-Cascais railway. The badge and club colours were adopted to represent the sun, sea and beaches which attracted visitors from across Europe.

Initially the club competed in the Campeonato de Lisboa, for clubs from Lisbon before winning promotion to the Segunda Divisão, which was won in the 1941-42 season. were also crowned as champions in 1944.

The team also reached the final of the Taça de Portugal (Portuguese Cup) in 1944, before going down 8-0 to SL Benfica at Campo das Salésias in Lisbon.



A year later Estoril reached the Primeira Liga for the first time, where they remained until the end of the 1952–53 season. The team remained there for the best part of a couple of decades. The experienced English boss Jimmy Hagan joined Estoril in 1973 following a spell at SL Benfica leading the Lisbon giants to three consecutive league titles and a Taça triumph.

Hagan took the side up and the club consolidated with mainly mid table finishes through to the 1980’s when they went back down. Towards the end of that decade the club employed former Estoril player Fernando Santos as head coach. Santos had retired from playing through injuries and at the age of thirty six he led the team to promotion back to the Primeira Liga in 1991.



Santos departed and the team were relegated in 1993-94 to the second tier Liga de Honra. Worse was to come in 1998-99 as the team went down to the Segunda Divisão, as the third tier was called at the time. 

By 2002-03 the team were in the third tier Segunda Divisão B, when they lifted the title under the management of Ulisses Morais. A second successive promotion came as Estoril went straight up from the Segunda Liga to the Primeira Liga as well as reaching the last eight of the Taça.



However, Estoril lasted just one season in the top flight before finding themselves back in Segunda Liga. Former Estoril right back Marco Silva would be the man to lead the club back to the Primeira Liga in 2011-12. It would mark the start of a golden couple of years at the Estádio António Coimbra da Mota.

A fifth place finish on their return would see Europa League football arrive at the club in the 2013-14 season. After progressing through a couple of qualifying rounds Estoril eventually went out after being paired with Sevilla, Slovan Liberec and SC Freiburg in Group H. 



This was backed up with a fourth place spot before Silva was tempted away by the overtures of Sporting CP. He was replaced by José Couceiro who led the side into the Europa League where they failed to progress out of a group which contained PSV, Panathinaikos and Dynamo Moscow.

Estoril ended the 2014-15 campaign in twelfth place in the top flight.

G.D. Estoril Praia will play in the Primeira Liga in the 2015-16 season.


My visit

Estoril Praia 2 CD Tondela 1 (Sunday 14th February 2016) Primeira Liga (att: 864)



It was day three of my trip to Lisbon and despite there at last being a break in the clouds, there was a very strong wind blowing and extremely heavy showers came and went. Despite being drenched on a couple of occasions I carried on and had an enjoyable morning visiting the homes of Atletico CP and OS Belenenses as well as the National Stadium.

The train took me from Cruz Quebrada to Estoril. The plan had been to stay on one stop further to the terminus at Cascais and walk back along the promenade, but the menacing clouds put pay to that. I had hoped to find a bar showing the Arsenal v Leicester City match, but that was now nearing its conclusion. 



Estoril was semi closed. It was obviously off season, but I had hoped to see a little bit more happening. The famous casino, which claimed to be the biggest in Europe, didn’t open until 4pm, so that was another option out of the equation.

Even though there was over two hours until kick off I hoped that I’d find something towards the stadium in the way of a bar. I continued up the hills towards Estádio António Coimbra da Mota but nothing really caught my attention. I was tempted to go into the laundrette to take off my sodden socks and trainers and put them in the spin drier. There had certainly been worse ideas.



As I got to the peak of the hill by the stadium another storm deposited its load. There was no cover so I protected myself against the club shop, which was empty of all stock. I saw the match security stewards further up taking protection up the road in a bus shelter.

The main entrance to the ground was shut, as was the ticket office. There was no sign of any clubhouse or supporters facilities. It even crossed my mind that the game may have been postponed. Surely I wasn’t going to have another shambles to add to the previous day in Mafra, which can be read here?



Walking to the far end I followed the stewards in so I could take some photos of the stadium, just in case the match was off. I had a look at the reserve pitch, which had a couple of rows of seats, an artificial pitch and a building at one end. This had a bar upstairs, but it was closed. A local fan arrived and was a bit surprised with this as he intended to go in for a drink. He advised me of a café over the road.

This was a big help. The café was nothing much, but it was extremely cheap. I had an expresso and a cream doughnut while I tried to warm up. After half an hour I went back to give the bar another go, but it was still shut. 



As I was about to see if the ground was open I bumped into Aston Villa fan Darren, who had also been to Benfica on Friday night and was also a groundhopper. We sheltered against the wall of the bar as another downpour dropped its load.

It was nice to have a good chat with a fellow aficionado. He was also hoping for some form of clubhouse. After a while we walked round and bought our tickets. It was to cost €12 for a seat under the only cover. This seemed fair enough value.



We were made to wait by the gate with other early arrivals until the heavy handed stewards told us that we could go in. Before entry I was given as stern a frisk as I’d had for many seasons. It seemed completely over the top, especially after going to many games with pyrotechnics all over Europe where I received a cursory glance.

Although there was no enclosed facility in the stand, we could at least shelter in the corridor at the rear. Catering came by way of a bifana pork roll and a Sagres beer, which came to a very reasonable €5. A guy looking after the media gave me a free teamsheet, which was a nice touch.



Estádio António Coimbra da Mota was a nice modern all seated venue. The Main Stand was built into the side of a hill and had a cantilevered roof over most of it. The north end had an open single tier of seats. Opposite us was also open but not as big a seating deck. The final end was reserved for changing rooms and club facilities. It’s biggest fault was the lack of protection in inclement weather.

Although we were allocated specific seats, we went in with the vocal fans who stood up. We opted to use them as a wind break and actually got a decent view and it wasn’t as windy. This was just as well as I was beginning to feel a severe cold coming on.



Estoril began the game in mid table, with the visitors bottom of the pile. Tondela came from just south of Porto, and despite their lowly status, a dozen or so fans decided to make the journey south. It did seem a bit of a waste of time opening an entire section for them.

It was never going to be easy to produce scintillating football in such conditions, but the lack of common sense of the players had us shaking our heads as they played the ball in the air to allow the wind to take hold. Estoril failed to take advantage and hardly had a shot with the huge gusts at their backs. 



My mate was also struggling with the cold as well as being shell shocked with Villa’s 6-0 capitulation at home to Liverpool. As the home side continued to work out how to press Eñaut Zubikarai into action in the Tondela net, referee Jorge Ferreira surprised the crowd by awarding the away team a penalty.

No one was quite sure what it was for, but as the game continued, the ref had a fine game, so I’ve no reason to doubt his decision. Brazilian Nathan Junior stepped up and fired his shot straight up the middle past Estoril’s Polish custodian Pawel Kieszek.



Tall home forward Frédéric Mendy was lumbering about like a pauper’s Emile Heskey. He was not convincing at all, yet it weould be the Frenchman who levelled things up. Amazingly a Tondela defender fired at his home goal from twelve yards when attempting a clearance which forced Zubikarai into a superb save. However, the ball fell to Mendy a couple of yards out. He couldn’t fail to score.

The rest of the half went past very quickly, which isn’t normally the case when you’re suffering in poor conditions. Apart from a free kick which was wastefully lofted over the Tondela bar, Estoril hardly had an attempt on goal. We both felt that they may pay for that in the second half.



After the restart we were all urged to sit by the cheerleader at the front. This led to a choreographed movement as everyone shook the shoulders of the person in front. It was all in good spirit, and I have to say that I found the home fans a good bunch. They sang constantly, with some of the seniors helping out by harmonising.

On the hour mark Estoril took the lead, but once again it took a huge helping hand from the kind visitors. A low cross was diverted into his own net by Steven Thicot, even though the home players celebrated and congratulated each other as though it had been a cunning plan worked on at training.



Despite the conditions, it was quite an enjoyable game. Tondela had a couple of shots that missed the corner of the net by a whisker. Once again the half seemed to fly by. It’s amazing what good company can do. 

I also got into conversation with an ex pat Estoril fan who had a house in the resort and visited when he could. He relayed the story of the Europa League season as well as telling us that the club were helping the loyal fans who had booked flights for an away game in Madeira, only for TV to change the date of the game. He also told me of the story of the leader of the fans travelling to their Europa League tie in Moscow with three others by car!



He also told us how the stadium was taken over by away fans whenever Benfica, Porto or Sporting were in town, and how the slight misconception of how the Portuguese love their football. It was more a case of the big three getting big crowds with the rest all scrambling for fans.

At full time we walked down the hill with the wind at our backs, which was a welcome bonus. We had to wait on the station for twelve minutes before our return train. There were several other fans with Estoril scarves as well as a group of Germans. Some had been to the game.

The warm train was really welcome. It took around forty minutes back to Cais do Sodre. I said my goodbye to Darren who’d been a good companion as we compared stories of our travels both home and away. It was great to hear that he sponsored a game of Wick Academy in the Scottish Highland League once a season.



I considered my options. I did need to get warm. I headed into the centre to Baixa Chiado where I grabbed some food and considered buying some new socks and trainers. After weighing up the pros and cons I headed back to my apartment in Alfama and spent my time drying out my shoes and socks over the gas rings. It wasn’t ideal but it saved me lots of money!

I’m sure an early season game in Estoril would be much more comfortable, but I had a visit I wouldn’t forget for quite some time, especially while fighting the flu symptoms back home!








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