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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Whitletts Victoria




Whitletts Victoria FC is a Junior (non-league) football club from the town of Ayr on Scotland’s west coast. The club, which was formed in 1944, originated from the Whitletts area of the town, which at the time was a separate mining village.



The club was given some land to build a home ground, which became Voluntary Park in recognition of those who built it. Vics became members of the Western League (South) for the start of the 1945/6 season.


Whitletts was soon joined to the rest of Ayr after the post war building project provided much needed new homes. Vics reached the semi-final of the Scottish Junior Cup in the 1955-56 season where they were defeated by eventual winners Petershill in front of over 20,000 spectators at Shawfield.



The 1957-58 campaign saw Whitletts lift the Western League (South) league title, before losing out for the overall Western League title when they lost out to Irvine Meadow. Despite these successes the club struggled to attract many supporters.


Committee man John Boyce battled against the odds to keep the club going with Voluntary Park often being the victim of vandalism. Vics withdrew from competitive football in 1972-73 but returned the following campaign.



Brothers Jackie and George Scarlett managed to secure the lease to play home games at Dam Park Stadium for a few season while fortunes improved on the pitch, with Vics being crowned champions of the Ayrshire Second Division Championship in 1979–80, 1981–82 and 1985–86.


Things failed to improve off the pitch in 1991 with the committee ready to let Vics fold, but manager Bobby Lawrie was determined to keep going. He continued with very little financial resources for the following decade before Richard Brookes came forward to assist financially with the team in the Ayrshire Second Division.



Scottish Junior football was re-organised just after the millennium. Whitletts defied the odds to win promotion to the West Superleague First Division in 2008-09. However, just a couple of years later the club faced another crisis.


Voluntary Park also staged greyhound racing under the name of Ayr Greyhound Stadium. In February 2011 it was closed down under health and safety grounds. Vics were offered a home back at Dam Park Stadium by the local council.



The club received help from Ayr United’s Honest Men Trust as Vics were converted into a club owned by the supporters paying an annual membership following a meeting at the Thistle Inn in July 2012. Unfortunately the change in ownership didn’t help on the pitch as Whitletts were relegated to the SJFA Ayrshire District League at the end of the 2012-13 season.


A third place finish in 2014-15, following by fourth places in 2015-16 and 2016-17 under manager Neil Duffy, the experienced former player at Dundee, Dundee United and Ayr United who joined the club in December 2015, offered hope for the future.



Whitletts Victoria FC will play in the SJFA Ayrshire District League in the 2017-18 season.



My visit


Saturday 24th December 2016


I found myself in Ayr on Christmas Eve in some pretty horrendous conditions before Ayr United’s home game against Dumbarton, which had a lunchtime kick off so I could still get back to London for beers that evening.



The winds were high with regular heavy showers thrown in for good measure. I sheltered and suffered a pretty ordinary pint of Hophead in the bar of the Ayrshire and Galloway Hotel before I headed off towards Dam Park Stadium to get some photos.


The waters of the River Ayr looked fierce as I crossed the bridge and headed towards the stadium past the Ayr Campus of the University of the West of Scotland. The rain battered down again so I sheltered against one of the buildings to try and let it blow over.



The main entrance to the arena was closed, but after  a walk I discovered that I could climb the bank from the riverside path and get an excellent view.


Dam Park Stadium was used mainly for athletics with a running track surrounding the football pitch. The far side had a neat raised covered seated stand with open terracing in front and all the way along the pitch. The rest of the ground was surrounded by landscaped shallow grass banking.



Once done I tried to fight the elements as I headed to Somerset Park to enjoy my main attraction of the day.






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