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


September 2015

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Stocksbridge Park Steels

Stocksbridge Park Steels FC is a non-league football club formed in 1986; following a merger between Stocksbridge Works and Oxley Park, who hail from the small town of Stocksbridge; which is located just north of Sheffield in South Yorkshire.

Stocksbridge Works FC first competed in the Division Two of the Yorkshire League in 1949-50, going on to lift the divisional title and win promotion to Division One in their second season. It was the start of a decade of dominance for the club.

Stocksbridge were crowned as Yorkshire League champions in 1951-52, before going on to win the league in 1954-55, 1955-56,1956-57 and 1957-58 to complete a four in a row triumph. A runners-up slot came in 1960-61 before further titles were collected in 1961-62 and 1962-63.

The seven times champions were surprisingly relegated the following season, before regaining their top flight status in 1964-65 as they won Division Two. The ups and downs continued as the team were relegated in 1965-66, promoted in 1966-67 and demoted again in 1967-68.

A new Division Three was added to the Yorkshire League in 1970, with Works being relegated into it. In 1970-71 the team won the Division Three title, but were relegated back to that status in 1972-73. Promotion came with another title win in 1974-75, but the stay in Division Two lasted just one season.

A further promotion was secured in 1978-79, but once again the clubs stay in Division Two lasted just twelve months. Stocksbridge Works became founder members of the Northern Counties East League in 1982-83, from where they were placed in Division One Central for the 1984-85 campaign.

When the league was re-organised they were given a position in Division Three for the 1985-86 season, where they competed before merging with Oxley Park a few months later.

The NCEL merged their Divisions Two and One into one league for the 1991-92 season, with Stocksbridge Park Steels becoming Division One champions and moving up to the Premier Division under manager Mick Horne. The 1993-94 season saw the club crowned as league champions.

A runners-up spot followed in 1995-96, which was enough to secure a move to Division One of the Northern Premier League. The club settled into their new surroundings at their Bracken Moor home. Towards the end of the 2000-01 campaign Horne resigned after eleven years at the helm to be replaced by Wayne Biggins.

Biggins departed in November 2003 to be replaced by Peter Rinkcavage, who oversaw some stability on the pitch before taking Steels to the play-offs in 2005-06. Kendal Town ended any dreams of promotion with a win on penalties.

Gary Marrow had taken charge of the side including Jamie Vardy; which was placed in Division One South as the side lost to Sheffield in the play-offs of 2007-08. However, it was to be second time lucky as Carlton Town and then Belper Town were defeated in the play-offs at the end of the 2008-09 season to win promotion to the Premier Division.

Simon Collins arrived as the new team manager during the 2009-10 campaign, but his spell lasted just six months. Steve Stutt had a short spell in charge before former boss Marrow returned to the club.

Chris Willcock and then Darren Schofield would also have terms at the helm at Bracken Moor before the team was relegated in 2013-14 after a second from bottom finish. Steels managed to stave off relegation in Division One South under the management of Chris Hilton.

A sixth place followed in 2015-16 before Stocksbridge finished in the play-off places in 2016-17 where they lost out to Spalding United in the semi-finals.

Stocksbridge Park Steels FC will play in the Northern Premier League Division One South in the 2017-18 season.

My visit

Stocksbridge Park Steels 0 Scarborough 0 (Saturday 15th January 2000) FA Trophy Round Three (att: )

Boro were in their first season back as a non-league club following thirteen years in the League; and as such were quite a big fish at the time. They’d got a bye to the second round, where they despatched Ilkeston Town away from home. Steels were a couple of divisions lower in the pecking order.

My pal Steve Walker was keen to make the journey from his Oxford home, so I took the train from St Pancras to meet him. The plan was to stay overnight in the city. We had a pint on arrival and decided to take a taxi to Stocksbridge.

Not for the last time a poor driver would be the loser taking the pair of us to a game. Steve had negotiated a fare before we jumped in. Our cabbie obviously forgot to put the fact that Sheffield Wednesday were also at home into the equation.

The journey was painfully slow until we got past Hillsborough. I seem to remember we came to a compromise and left on good terms, just as our old pals rocked up in their mini-bus. If I remember correctly admission was just £5.

Our hosts were brilliant all day. Many other clubs would have been tempted to cash in on a large travelling support, but not Stocksbridge. Programmes, refreshments and beer prices were great value for money. Indeed, many Seadogs didn’t even bother leaving the bar.

Bracken Moor was a tidy and unique venue, built into a hill. The Main Stand was a distinctive seated structure with grass banking and hard standing at the front. Opposite was a fence separating the pitch from the cricket ground and wicket.

The clubhouse and turnstiles were built in the top corner, with the bar and patio outside offering a great view. The far end had a concrete path and a bank behind, while the near end had a reasonable sized cover for standing spectators.

Karl tests out the food as Butch watches on

 Again, I rely upon my memory as I write this report in 2017, but Boro dominated huge swathes of play without really looking like scoring. There was no real panic as everyone assumed that it would only be a matter of time before they broke the deadlock.

The same pattern continued in the second half, only Steels realised that they had a chance of creating an upset. The travelling support were getting upset at their sides performance, with manager Colin Addison taking some of the flak. Stocksbridge fully deserved their draw.

I recall appealing to the Boro directors to let any visiting fans in at cut price for the replay, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears. I thought it was the east that they deserved. We said goodbye to our pals who headed home while we walked down the hill.

We found a pub that is still remembered many years later. We ended up on lager as they had run out of bitter, cider and Guinness. It really was a glum place and surely a matter of time before it would shut down for good?

After a couple of pints we caught the bus to Sheffield Interchange, where we were still stuck with the conundrum of where to stay? Steve negotiated at the nearby Travelodge, where I predictably lost the toss and would spend the night on the floor.

We headed out up the hill into the city and had beers in the vibrant student area around West Street before grabbing food. It was a long and interesting day, Boro went on to win the replay 5-0 and bagged an away tie at Burnham; which would lead to further shenanigans!

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