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, September 6, 2017

Hayes & Yeading United

Hayes & Yeading United FC is a non-league football club which was formed by the merger of Hayes FC and Yeading FC on May 18th 2007. The relevant histories of both clubs can be read about here and here.

The club played matches at Church Road in Hayes and took up a place in Conference South in 2007-08; which is the level that both clubs were playing before the merger. A mid table finish was backed up with a place in the play-offs in 2008-09.

Eastleigh were defeated in the semi-finals before Hayes and Yeading defeated Hampton & Richmond Borough 3-2 in the final thanks to a brace of goals from Steven Gregory and one from Scott Fitzgerald under manager Garry Haylock.

The team finished comfortably in the Conference National league in 2009-10 before turning full time professional the following season. The team reached the first round of the FA Cup before bowing out 2-1 to Wycombe Wanderers at Church Road in front of a crowd of 1,426.

On April 19th 2011 the club played their last ever game at Church Road as a new stand was built at Yeading’s old Warren home for the club to relocate. The team once again finished clear of any relegation worries.

Haylock was replaced as manager by Nas Bashir in May 2011 as the club began a groundshare at Woking’s Kingfield. The move out of the area affected crowds with the team being relegated at the completion of the 2011-12 campaign.

In February 2013 Basir left the club by mutual consent with the clubs Director of Football, Tony O’Driscoll taking over as the new team manager before Tristan Lewis and Delroy Preddie took over for the final six games of the season.

Former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland defender Phil Babb  was appointed as the new manager in May 2013, while the clubs period in exile continued, as questions were asked about the money from the sale of Church Road.

United finished in the relegation places in 2013-14, but were reprieved following Hereford United’s expulsion from the Conference Premier. The 2014-15 campaign once again saw the team narrowly avoid the drop, as the team played their home games at the York Road home of Maidenhead United.

The building work at Beaconsfield Road had ground to a halt for some time owing to a lack of finance, before it resumed during the 2015-16 campaign while matches continued to be staged as tenants in Maidenhead.

Hayes & Yeading were relegated to the Southern League at the end of the 2015-16 season under Gary Haylock who had been reappointed as manager. Former Oxford United coach Mickey Lewis took over team affairs in the summer of 2016.

Good news came as the SkyEx Community Stadium; as the new ground was named in a sponsorship deal, was ready to stage first team football. However, the joy was short lived as Hillingdon Council revoked the safety license after a couple of home matches.

Lewis stepped down to youth team manager in October 2016; with the duo of Paul Hughes and Ritchie Hanlon being appointed a few days later. The pair had taken Kings Langley to the Southern League Premier Division for the first time at the end of the previous season.

The club decamped to play home games at Holloway Park Beaconsfield, Horton Road Uxbridge and the Silver Jubilee Park home ground of Edgware Town and Hendon. The team struggled on the pitch and were relegated at the end of the 2016-17 campaign to the second tier of the Southern League.

Following further building works the club were awarded their license to return to the SkyEx Community Stadium in August 2017.

Hayes & Yeading United FC will play in the Southern League Division One East in the 2017-18 season.

My visit

Hayes & Yeading United U18’s 5 Hendon U18’s 1 (Wednesday 30th August 2017) Isthmian Youth League West (att: 36)

The rain had fallen all day on my day off from work, thus scuppering my plans to head to The Oval for the third day of the Surrey v Middlesex County Championship game. There was no way I was going to stay in all night as well.

I’d considered a couple of matches in the Essex Senior League, until I decided to check out the Bostik League website; as the Isthmian League had been renamed to take over from Ryman as league title sponsors.

The fixture at the SkyEx Community Stadium stood out, as I hadn’t been to the ground, the game was against my adopted London non-league club and I’d get back to my local in Kingsbury in time for a few pints before closing time.

The weather was trying to clear up as I took the 183 bus to Harrow before changing to the 140. The heavy rush hour traffic slowed down the journey before I alighted at The Grapes, grabbed a McDonalds meal for tea and walked the fifteen minutes or so down Beaconsfield Road to the ground.

The light industrial estate surrounding the stadium seemed active; with a film company and a Polish food factory stood opposite an Indian school where the old Hayes End FC were once located. Indeed, the film crews occupied much of the parking around the stadium.

I’d seen both teams warming up on the 3G pitch at the back and saw a sign to inform junior teams that they were playing on the smaller pitch. Surely the game was going to be played in the main arena? I was happy to have the news confirmed as I paid my £4 admission.

The match had been advertised as a 7.30pm kick off on Twitter, yet I was the only person inside the stadium ten minutes before that designated time. I used up the time doing a lap and taking photos.

The Main Stand was a tremendous structure. Many of the seats at each end had been cordoned off. Several years of inaction meant that they were dirty from natural weather and pigeons. The rest of the ground was flat hard standing with room for small structures going forward.

It became obvious that the pitch had been moved several yards south since my visit to watch Yeading FC in action, as the old cover behind the goal was now outside the ground in a dilapidated state surrounded by cars.

The venue showed sure signs that there was still plenty of work that could be carried out to make it a really top class facility. Much of the infrastructure in the stand was incomplete. The huge room at the back with windows overlooking the pitch was an empty shell.

The young gent who had taken my money sought me out to give me a free teamsheet; which was a nice touch as other spectators began to arrive. It appeared that Hayes & Yeading’s youth set up was linked to Pro Football Academies judging by some of the leisurewear on show.

The playing surface was very large and in perfect condition. Before the teams appeared some wild bird sounds were played over the tannoy; presumably in an attempt to scare off the pigeons? If it was, then it had very little effect.

It was nice to see the club give the team and match full respect by reading the teams out over the PA as well as substitutions and goal scorers throughout the evening. The choice of music was also eclectic and very good; at least to my ears.

Just before kick off five or six Dads of the Hendon players came and sat close to me. I immediately offered sympathy to the coaches. I’ve never heard such tripe being shouted as they offered to their offspring.

They were very enthusiastic but unable to grasp that some players are better than others and that the coaches set the team up in a certain way which didn’t include getting stuck in and chase the ball everywhere it went. It was embarrassing.

The Hendon team weren’t bad and matched their hosts in the early exchanges, but United’s lads just had that bit extra; whether it was natural talent, having being together as a team for longer or being physically stronger. That’s how football works.

Harvey Killeen came close with an effort from twenty five yards before United took the lead on sixteen minutes when a long ball was cushioned down by Mustafa Ahmadi for Haaris Hussain to fire home.

Hendon came close to equalising three minutes later when George Raptis aimed in a cross, which Kaci Henry shot against the post. The ball rebounded to Dons skipper Malachy McGovern who fired over the bar.

United’s Ahmadi let loose with a fierce drive from distance which Hendon custodian Daniel Purdue tipped over via the crossbar to make a brilliant save. McGovern had another effort at the other end which was blocked by Hayes keeper Alex Ravenhill.

Efforts were exchanged at either end as the first half came to a close in an absorbing contest that I had watched from the open standing on the far side. At half time I bought a coffee for £1 from the office at the back of the stand. It really was beginning to get chilly.

Riccardo Alexander-Greenaway missed a guilt edged chance for Hendon at the start of the second period before United substitute, Josh Blaize, made a run up the wing to centre to Jay O’Connell who made it 2-0.

Montell Asare-Bediako hit the outside of the post for the visitors on sixty four minutes, while team mate Will Murphy was putting in an impressive shift. However, it would be the home side who added a further goal with fourteen minutes remaining as Purdue’s goal kick was volleyed back up the middle to find O’Connell who made no mistake.

Seconds later the score became 4-0 as Blaize was sent through. His effort was blocked by Purdue, but Killeen was on hand to score from the rebound. It was at this point that I called it a night as I headed off for the bus.

I missed Hayes & Yeading going 5-0 up as O’Connell completed his hat trick before the Dons grabbed a late consolation goal through Raptis.

I decided to take a different route to the bus but cutting between the five a side complex and the Minet Country Park which took me under the A312 duel carriageway and down some residential streets to Coldharbour Lane.

The 140 bus arrived almost immediately and I was back at Kingsbury for just gone 10.30pm to be met by Steve Barnes. It had been a decent night out at a club I was delighted to see eventually back in their home ground.

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