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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cray Valley Paper Mills


Cray Valley Paper Mills FC is non-league football which was formed in 1919 for the workers of the paper mills in and around Crayford in Kent. The club initially became members of Division Two of the Sidcup & District League upon formation.

Promotion to Division One of that league was achieved in their debut season. A few years later ‘The Millers’ joined the Kent County Amateur League; going on to lift the Division Three West title in 1936-37.



Cray Valley moved to become members of the South London Alliance from the 1954-55 season. The team were crowned as Division One champions in 1979-80 before lifting the Premier Division title in 1981-82.

The club had played up until that point at the Paper Mills Sports Ground in St Paul’s Cray. However, when the mill shut in 1981, the club were forced to use several different grounds.



Despite a subsequent demotion, Paper Mills won Division One once again in 1983-84 and finished runners-up of the Premier Division in 1988-89. In 1991 the club progressed to the Spartan League.

When the Spartan League merged with the South Midlands league in 1997, Cray Valley were placed in Division One South. The Millers finished runners-up in the inaugural season, but decided to leave the competition and join the London Intermediate League.



Valley made another switch for the 2001-12 season as they were placed in Division One West of the Kent County League. The divisional title was won in 2002-03 as the club were promoted to the Premier Division.

A third place finish in 2010-11 saw Paper Mills promoted to the Kent League. The Millers moved into The Badgers Sports Ground in Eltham, while the league was renamed the Southern Counties East League from the 2013-14 season with PM being led by manager Steve Chapman.



Greenwich Borough FC signed a thirty year lease to share Badgers from the 2016-17 season, as numerous ground improvements were carried out at the venue.

When an additional division was added in the summer of 2016, Cray Valley became members of the Premier Division under new manager James Collins, who led the team to a fourth place finish in 2016-17; the clubs highest ever league finish.



The season also ended in further glory, as Cray Valley PM became the lowest ever ranked side to lift the London Senior Cup, when they defeated Metropolitan Police 2-1 at Champion Hill, Dulwich.

Cray Valley Paper Mills FC will play in the Southern Counties East League Premier Division in the 2017-18 season.


My visits

Greenwich Borough 3 Corinthian Casuals 4 (Tuesday 25th April 2017) Isthmian League Division One South Play-Off Semi-Final (att: 427)

Click here to read about my first visit Badgers for an exciting play-off semi-final.


Cray Valley Paper Mills 3 Dulwich Hamlet 2 (Thursday 20th July 2017) Pre Season Friendly (att: c60)



It was a pleasant but blustery evening as I set out after a brief siesta to take the edge off an interesting early shift at work. The tube to London Bridge was followed by a train down to Lee, from where I walked to the Badgers Sports Club.

I paid my £5 admission in advance to ensure I got a team sheet, which came with another page of club information before heading to the bar. My 300cl bottle of Magners was extravagantly priced, so I savoured every drop at a very steady pace before entering the ground.



The ground had been added to over the summer in the shape of a rather ugly scaffold cover behind the near goal. The pitch was very grassy and had signs of being well watered. This was a vast improvement to the surface of a couple of months previously.

The Greenwich Borough squad were been put through their paces on the practise pitch next door as the teams came out rather haphazardly and in a way to remember the good old days before the current PC formality.



Kick off was slightly delayed as hoses had to be pushed back from the far touchline before the game got off to a pacy and even start. There was plenty of nice touches and clever passing. This was promising to see as Hamlet’s line up was very much second string.

The experience Dulwich forward Gavin Tomlin opened the scoring when put through and slotting the ball through the legs of the advancing keeper on ten minutes. The visitors centre back Harly Wise controlled the back four, with the leggy Mohammed Mohammed playing well in midfield.



Paper Mills had a couple of decent half chances. Both Aaron Rhule and Zenze gayle caused problems with their pace from out wide, but centre forward Scott Reilly was a little short on his finishing skills.

During the half while sitting in the stand I overheard a couple of blokes chatting. One had been to the opening of Scarborough’s ground the previous Saturday and not been totally impressed. I know I should have kept out of the way, but he was talking cobblers.



It turned out he was a Charlton Athletic fan who also visits Pickering and supports the Pikes. It’s amazing how local gossip about incorrect players wages went the full length of the country. He also had difficulty in grasping the difference between in house catering to 100 and 1,000 fans.

At least his mate cleared up that it wasn’t the old Eltham Town ground where we were watching, so I hadn’t played there in the past. That particular venue was on Green Lane a good half mile away.



Grabbing a up of tea for a quid at the break, I too up a position in the small covered terrace for the second period. A few substitutions had been made during the break, and the changes soon benefitted the home side.

Soon after the restart Gayle cut inside and fired past Hamlet keeper Ferdinand De Sena. The custodian had flapped at several crosses previously, and I would guess that he would have been upset that the shot got past him.



Valley’s central defender Joe Matthews came close with a header as De Sena once again misjudged a cross. The temperature was dropping by the minute as an almighty scramble in the Hamlet area somehow kept the ball out.

However, there was nothing anyone could do about a twenty five yard rocket from full back Danny Smith, which flew into the top corner of the net to put the home side ahead. The home skipper Russell Bedford was having a fine game in midfield as his side took control.



Several more changes were made from both benches as players picked up invaluable match time. Kicking up the slope was helping Cray Valley as they continued to heap on the pressure.

They made it 3-1 with around twenty minutes remaining as Gayle fired in a low cross, which was met on the half volley by Jordan Sandiford who fired home. Then after a little lull Hamlet began to fight back.

In their first attack in some time a Hamlet replacement was brought down in the box. Referee Alex Stacchini had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Caio Guimares made no mistake as he fired into the bottom corner.



Dulwich continued to have plenty of possession and were starting to put the Millers defence under a bit of pressure. However, with just a few minutes remaining I decided to bit the bullet and head off as I had an early start the next day.

The 321 to New Cross Gate, Overground to Canada Water and then Jubilee line got me back to Kingsbury in just over an hour. I’d thoroughly enjoyed my evening out; despite being preached to about my own club!







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