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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Newtongrange Star

Newtongrange Star FC is a junior/non-league football club from the former mining village of Newtongrange in Midlothian; located around ten miles south east of Edinburgh. The football club in ‘Nitten’, as the town is called by the locals, was formed in 1890.

After the town’s senior club, Newtongrange Athletic, folded in 1896, Star eventually managed to be registered as a Junior club in 1890. Junior indicates non-league status in Scotland, rather than meaning age.

Nitten were crowned as champions of the Midlothian Junior League winner in1905–06, 1906–07 and 1907–08. They added further titles after World War I in 1919-20 and 1920-21 before the club progressed to the Edinburgh & District League.

Star continued to lift titles as they crowned as league champions in 1921–22, 1922–23, 1923–24 and 1924–25 before the club moved into their Victoria Park home. Two more league titles followed in 1925–26 and 1926–27 before Newtongrange enjoyed their greatest season.

In the 1929-30 campaign Star won both the Edinburgh & District League and the Scottish Junior Cup as they defeated Hall Russell 3-0. The club were league champions once again in 1933-34 before the club disbanded in 1934 before resuming in August 1936.

William Bauld and Fred Glidden were the teams leading lights before Star embarked on a very successful 1950’s as the club won the Edinburgh & District League in 1950–51, 1951–52, 1954–55 and 1958–59, as well as continuing to add several cup competitions to the honours board with Dave Mackay, Charlie Elms and Robbie Kinghorn the stand out players.

Junior football was in decline in the early 1960’s. The team lifted two trophies at the end of the 1961-62 season to convince the committee to carry on with the club. Star reached a second Junior Cup final in 1971, before being defeated 2-1 by Cambuslang Rangers.

The team was relegated in the 1973-74 season but still lifted the National Dryborough Cup by defeating Petershill in the final, as the committee continued to run the club in difficult times following the decline of the mining industry.

In the 1980’s Nitten played in the East Region League. Laurie Dunn took over as manager and did a fine job reinvigorating interest in the club before John Buckley took over. The 1990-91 season saw the club celebrated their centenary by lifting the East Region League championship.

The team also reached the final of the 1991 Scottish Junior Cup where they lost to Auchinleck Talbot at Brockville Park in Falkirk. Star retained the league title in 1991-92 as players Gordon Fraser, John Coughlin and Paul Ramsay were all capped for the Scottish Junior side.

The side went on to finish as league runners-up in two successive seasons before the club left their Victoria Park home in 1994 to move to New Victoria Park, which was built on the site of Redwood Bing.

Ronnie Tolmie and then Willie Garner took over as manager as Star lifted the East of Scotland Cup for the eleventh time in 1996-97. Following a couple of league re-organisations Star found themselves playing in the third tier in East of Scotland Junior Football.

Nitten finished as runners-up in the SJFA East Region Premier League in 2008-09 to be promoted to the Superleague as Graeme Armstrong put together a team with a mixture of youth and experience.

Armstrong departed as the skills of Damien Gielty flourished on the pitch. Alan Miller arrived as the new manager as the team were relegated, but he restructured the squad and took Star to the Premier League title in 2012-13 to secure Superleague football at New Victoria Park.

Paul Tansey and Sean Jamieson became the latest Star players to receive Junior caps. In May 2016 manager Miller was replaced by Stevie McLeish. His side finished third from bottom of the table in the 2016-17 season, going on to be relegated after defeat on aggregate to Forfar West End in the qualification play-off.

However, the club were reprieved, keeping their Superleague status after Kelty Hearts transferred from Junior football to join the Senior set up.

Newtongrange Star FC will play in the SJFA East Region Superleague in the 2017-18 season.

My visit

Tranent Juniors 1 Broxburn Athletic 0 (Wednesday 7th June 2017) Fife & Lothian Cup Final (att: 1,050)

My night shifts were over and I was keen to snatch another game before the end of the season. I knew from experience of scanning the excellent Non-League Matters Forum that Scottish Junior football continued into June.

It had been a very mild winter north of the border, so there wasn’t the backlog as on other occasions, but Andy (Prorege) from the forum alerted me of possibilities after I had messaged him; once again, proving the value of social media.

With flights booked in advance I headed to Stansted for the 12.30 flight to Edinburgh before taking the bus into the city, having a brief wander before checking in to the Student Destiny Murano Campus just off Leith Road where I had a brief siesta.

While there was an option of a semi-final at Musselburgh, it was the game at Newtongrange that grabbed my attention. The Borders Railway service dropped my off around 6.20pm. My only slight regret was that I was too late to have a look at the National Mining Museum.

Nitten had obvious signs of being a former mining town, with its many streets of old employee houses on rows of terraced streets. I wandered down Main Street, past the leisure centre and into the excellent Dean Tavern.

The pub is run by the Gothenburg method that limits the amount of spirits sold and uses profits to go back into the local community. The bright roomy building had lots of memorabilia to commemorate the town’s mining heritage. I had a pint of keg Belhaven before the short walk to the ground.

A coach load of Broxburn fans had just dropped off at the bottom of the sloping windy road up to the entrance. The clubhouse was absolutely packed so I gave it a miss and went to join the queues waiting to get inside New Victoria Park.

Admission was £7, with an eight page programme costing an extra quid. As I was hungry, I was delighted to be served a scotch pie, a steak pie and a can of Irn Bru for just £3.80. Those were prices I yearned for at bigger venues.

New Victoria Park was a cracking venue, with its decent sized covered terrace with a row of seats on one side. The entrance end had toilets, changing rooms, offices and the refreshments with flat concrete standing. The rest of the ground had grass banking, with fans allowed to stand on them.

Kick off was put back by fifteen minutes to allow the larger than expected crowd to pack in, meaning a 7.30pm start. I took up a position at the bac of the terrace with a decent view. There was a minutes silence before we got under way for a Tranent club stalwart who’d passed away the previous weekend.

This was only my second Junior game, and I’d forgotten just how frenetic they tend to be. It was end to end from the start although neither side got away anything too menacing on goal. The game needed someone to put their foot on the ball and slow things down.

The referee Peter Stuart did his best to make sure that nothing got out of hand in the showpiece; often frustrating players of both sides when he was a little eager with his whistle rather than allowing advantage.

The Broxburn defenders looked pretty good to me, with the keeper being far taller than the Tranent stopper. I could see that leading to an interesting scenario if the game went to penalties after ninety minutes.

Broxburn played in the division above Tranent and their class showed on occasions, while the mean in maroon were a little busier. At the interval I had a bit of a stretch. It was noticeable that the tuck shop was down to pop, crisps and sweets.

A similar pattern ensued after the break, with chances at a premium. Tranent came close with a far post header. It seemed that most of the section under the roof were favouring that side from east of the capital.

Just as the game looked certain to go to a penalty shoot out, Kenny Fisher received the ball, cut inside and then unleashed a low curling shot into the far corner of the net to set off absolute bedlam among the Tranent fans a minute from the end of normal time.

The devastated Broxburn players tried to pick themselves up for the couple of minutes of stoppage time, but it was too late. The crowd went barmy once again as the final whistle blew. Many ran onto the pitch, including many of the clubs colts players.

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