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

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Eastbourne Borough

Eastbourne Borough FC is a non-league football club from the south coast town of the same name who were found as Langney FC in 1964, after the district in which the club played. Langey joined the Eastbourne & District Football League, where they were given a place in Division Two.

In the summer of 1968 the club changed their title to Langney Sports FC as they continued to play on local recreation grounds before moving to Princes Park; which was located next door to Eastbourne United’s Oval home.

In 1973-74 Langney won promotion to the local Premier Division before advancing once more in 1983 as the club was elected as a founding member of Division Three of the Sussex County League.

At the same time Sports moved from Princes Park to a new home ground on Priory Lane; right in the heart of the Langney community. In 1986-87 the club won the Division Three title along with two cup competitions. A second successive promotion was achieved the following campaign from Division Two.

Pete Cherry who had managed the club all the way through from local football departed to be replaced by Steve Richardson and then Garry Wilson in 1999 as the club continued to finish in the top four of Division One of the Sussex County League.

Sports lifted the league title in 1999-00 and were promoted to the Southern League Eastern Division, where the club consolidated its position. On the 26th May 2001 the club changed their name to Eastbourne Borough FC.

Borough finished as runners-up in the Eastern Division of 2002-03, winning promotion to the Premier Division. During the period, Sports lifted the Sussex Senior Cup and were beaten finalists on one occasion.

An eleventh place finish in 2003-04 was enough to clinch Borough a place in the newly formed Conference South for the following season as non-league football was re-organised during the summer of 2004.

The clubs debut season at the new level also ended in drama. After a fifth place finish, Borough defeated Thurrock and Cambridge City in the play-offs to face Altrincham for a place in non-league’s top flight. The team went down 2-1 in the final at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium.

The 2005-06 campaign saw the club reach Round One of the FA Cup for the first time. A draw against League Two Oxford United at Priory Lane was achieved before Borough went down in a replay at the Kassam Stadium.

The league season ended with a mid table berth, while a seventeenth place ending in 2006-07 also saw Round One Cup action. This time Borough went out to Weymouth. The same stage was reached once more the following season ending with a loss to Barrow after a replay.

However, Borough finished runners-up of Conference South in 2007-08 and were promoted to the Conference following victories in the play-offs over Braintree Town and then Hampton and Richmond Borough at Stevenage.

All the time the facilities at Priory Lane were being upgraded to match the clubs status. Their inaugural season saw the team finish in mid table as a part time club up against many full time outfits.

A victory on the final day of the 2009-10 season, by courtesy of a late penalty against Oxford United saved the side from relegation. Borough’s third season in the Conference; 2010-11, ended in relegation back to Conference South.

However, some solace came as the club competed in the first ever game at Brighton & Hove Albion’s new Amex Stadium; going down 2-0 to an Albion side in the final of the Sussex Senior Cup.

In January 2012 the club dispensed with Garry Wilson; their manager of thirteen years. The former Southampton midfielder Tommy Widdrington came in as his replacement as the season ended with Borough in twelfth position.

Widdrington rebuilt the squad as the club introduced an academy and Chairman of forty years; Len Smith, stood down. Mid table finishes continued although a third Sussex Senior Cup was added to the clubs list of honours.

In the summer of 2016 the pitch at Priory Lane was changed to an artificial FieldTurf surface to allow for more club and community use. Widdrington departed in April 2017 to take up a post at Coventry City, with Bognor Regis Town boss Jamie Howell arriving to take up the helm at Borough.

Eastbourne Borough will play in the National League South in the 2017-18 season.

My visits

Tuesday 12th December 2007

With a day off from work I decided to head down to the south coast on a cool but sunny day to adventure some new places and visit some non-league football clubs. I certainly got plenty of exercise!

After stopping off at Lewes, Eastbourne was my second town on the list. A look at Eastbourne Town’s Saffrons ground was followed by a walk along the prom to Eastbourne United Association’s Oval. By then I needed a bit of a rest so I let a bus take the strain.

Unable to find a nearby stop I headed to the Tesco Express and then took the service which dropped me off at Shelley Avenue, close to the ground. The Priory Lane Stadium was locked up, but I still got a decent look through some gaps in fences.

It was apparent that Borough had built the ground gradually and had a fine non-league football ground offering plenty of cover for spectators. There was also a training pitch on the approach to the entrances.

Once I’d taken my snaps I embarked on a longer than expected walk, along Priory Road, which turned into a B road as I headed into the country; eventually reaching the pretty village of Pevensey over a mile away to catch a train further down the coast at Pevensey & Westham station.

Eastbourne Borough 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 2 (Monday 24th July 2017) Pre Season Friendly (att: 319)

While the match at Priory Lane had been pencilled in for a couple of weeks, I’d made the most of my day off work and visited the grounds of Seaford Town, Newhaven, Peacehaven & Telscombe, Bexhill United and Eastbourne United Association as well as walking many miles.

With a bit of down time before the match I sought out two pubs on Seaside. The Arlington Arms was very much a locals pub with a decent pint of Harvey’s Bitter. The juke box wasn’t too inspiring and rather loud, so I decided to give the Alexandra Arms over the road a go.

I’d made an error. The pint of Tribute was satisfactory, but a gaggle of local lads had obviously downed tools very early and were louder than the music over the road. I wasn’t too upset when it was time for the bus to the match.

The Loop service dropped me at the Shelley Walk stop, just a couple of minutes from the ground. I poked my head in the clubhouse, but decided to go straight into the ground. Admission was £8, a programme £1 with teamsheets being issued free.

It was time for food. Only one of the three hatches were open for the night. I purchased a cheeseburger with onions, chips and a team for £6.30. It wasn’t bad fare and filled me for the price. The staff had been most pleasant. I headed to the Main Stand to enjoy it.

Priory Lane wasn’t quite as vast as I’d thought from my previous visit, but it was still a very decent venue for a club of Borough’s size. I noted the inscription ‘Langney Sports’ was still on the wall backing the open section of terrace.

The Main Stand was all seated. Surprisingly it didn’t have a wall next to the pitch. Fans simply walked along next to the artificial surface to find their aisle. The covered terracing snaked right round two and a bit sides.

The players’ facilities and club shop were behind a covered terracing at the entrance end. Borough had cleverly built and extra storey which double up as corporate boxes looking out over the pitch.

Before kick off the man on the PA read out the sides; quite frustratingly in the case of the visitors who had decided to take to the pitch wearing squad numbers and confusing everyone. The announcer did his best, but I felt his pain.

Eastbourne started the game far the better. Bulky centre forward Nat Pinney was leading the side well and had an early effort disallowed when turning in the effort of skipper Sergio Torres.

New Borough boss Jamie Howell had his side playing some lovely football on the deck and using the full width of the pitch as players interchanged positions to become involved. Torres was pulling the strings, while Will Hendon and Gavin McCallum were excellent down the right.

Both McCallum and Torres brought decent stops out of Daggers keeper Mark Cousins. A wonderful close passing movement nearly put through Jamie Taylor as the home side continued to impress.

Seven minutes before the break Borough got the breakthrough that their play merited as Yemi Odubade saw his shot parried, but his sheer determination saw him eventually bundle the ball home despite protests from the Dagenham defenders.

At the interval I wandered around to watch the second period from near the gate as I had decisions to make regarding my departure. The temperature was dropping so I indulged in a warming Bovril.

The second half was a different story. Borough still had their spells in possession and a couple of efforts on goal but Dagenham looked a far better outfit. Manager John Still’s team talk was working as his side began take command from the back.

I had my own decision to make with just over ten minutes remaining. My train back to London was at 10.16. I could hang around until full time and then walk fifteen minutes to connect with a bus back to town or leave and get on one outside the gates.

A Dagenham midfielder had a long shot of the half volley cannon back off the home crossbar, but my decision was made. It’d been a long day so I walked to the stop despite the game being in the balance. Twitter would have to do for the final part of the game.

Sure enough the Daggers equalised through full back Sam Ling with nine minutes remaining. In the closing stages Ling’s throw down the line found Mason Bloomfield, who crossed for Michael Cheek to score the winner.

To add to my frustration, all this took place while waiting for the late running bus. At least I could watch the highlights later via the Daggers Twitter feed, and I was going to make the train.

The Loop service took a very elongated route back to the terminus. At one point I thought we were heading away from the station. It was somewhat of a relief when I got on board the empty train directly back to Victoria. I slept very well after a great day which had included me walking eleven miles.

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