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

Tadcaster Albion

Tadcaster Albion AFC is a non-league football club that was formed in 1892 as John Smith’s FC in the North Yorkshire brewery town of Tadcaster, which is located between Leeds and York.

The earliest records are of the team playing at the cricket ground on Station Road and competing in the York League in the second tier Division One. The league title was secured in 1909-10 before the name was changed to Tadcaster Albion as they won the league in 1923-24.

The club was back under the brewing John Smith’s name soon afterwards, winning another in 1932-33. Another associated club playing as Tadcaster Albion appeared on the scene as both teams shared a ground at The Ings.

Both sides merged and kept the Tadcaster Albion title, while adopting the nickname of ‘The Brewers’ while competing in the York Football League. Albion were crowned champions in 1947-48 and finished as runners-up in 1953-54 before moving along the river to The Parks in 1960.

Tad became members of the Third Division of the Yorkshire League for the 1973-74 season, going on to win promotion from Division Two in their second season. A further elevation came in 1976-77 as the side went up to Division One on goal difference.

The following season saw Albion go all the way to the fifth round of the FA Vase; where they were knocked out 2-1 at home to fellow Yorkshire League side Frecheville Community. However, the club suffered successive relegations in 1978-79 and 1979-80.

Tadcaster became founder members of the Northern Counties East League for the 1982-83 season; remaining in Division One of the competition for the following sixteen seasons before winning the league title in 2009-10 and gaining promotion to the Premier Division under manager Paul Marshall.

Albion finished in fourth place in their debut season and after a couple of top end finishes, they ended in third place in 2013-14. The 2014-15 season saw another third place achieved as well as a fantastic FA Vase campaign.

Winsford Town, Morpeth Town, St Helens Town, Brocton and AFC Mansfield were all dispatched which set up a semi-final tie against Highworth Town. The side from Wiltshire went through on aggregate but the second leg was marred by a melee.

Marshall departed at the end of the season to be replaced by Billy Miller as new owners i2i; a coaching and football agent company, invested heavily in the club; as well as changing the ground name to the i2i Stadium.

Miller led the team to the NCEL Premier Division title in 2015-16 as further investments were made to the ground and playing squad ahead of Northern Premier League football, as former Premier League star Jono Greening signed for the club.

Miller was replaced by Michael Morton and Simon Collins; who had been managing the under 21 team after Albion finished their first ever season at step four level in nineteenth position.

Tadcaster Albion AFC will play in the Northern Premier League Division One North in the 2017-18 season.

My visits

Tadcaster Albion v Scarborough Athletic - Match Postponed (Saturday 8th December 2007)

I must have had a fleeting glimpse of Tadcaster’s Ings Lane ground on hundreds of occasions as we passed on the A64 on the by-pass around the town. It’s just I’d never any real cause to head there for a game, despite my groundhopping tendencies.

However, once the old Scarborough FC went bust in the summer of 2007, both Athletic and Albion found themselves in the same league. It was on a visit back home to visit my parents for the weekend that the fixtures fell right to allow me to head to a match.

I’d been extremely close to fulfilling the 'North Yorkshire Derby' in the first season Boro and Tad were due to face each other. I’d travelled up with Dave Cammish and met Fred Firman and several other Seadogs in driving rain in Tadcaster.

The game hadn’t been called off, despite the River Aire nearly coming over the top of the road bridge. It fell to the landlord of the Coach and Horses to break the news of the postponement. He was the first to know as he was making the after match sandwiches!

A long and elongated pub crawl around the town ensued, which included the worst game of killer pool imaginable before the bus back was fired at by an air pistol. A curry followed in York before Dave and I nearly missed the train home!

Tadcaster Albion 0 Scarborough Athletic 4 (Saturday 24th January 2009) Northern Counties East League Division One (att: 340)

On the second occasion heading to Ings Lane for a match, Karl picked me and Barry Rewcroft up for the ride through. The weather wasn’t the best, but the game was definitely on. As ever, a good turn out of Seadogs had also made the journey along the A64.

We got there early enough to have a couple of pints in the clubhouse before the teams came out. A rumour was doing the rounds that Tadcaster were fielding an outside layer in goal because of a late injury. I tried to get the info passed on.

Ings Lane was a tidy enough little venue, with a overhand from the clubhouse offering a bit of cover to fans wanting to stand down the side. There was a small semi temporary seated stand at the town end, with the rest of the ground made up of hard and grass flat open standing.

I never did find out if it was Taddy’s usual keeper but Boro raced to a 3-0 lead by the interval as Ryan Blott had bagged a brace with a Danny Gray goal coming in between. I remember there being a rather hostile exchange by the tunnel as the team came off at half time.

Tad battled well in the second half, but the game was gone by then. Boro played in complete control in what would be a title winning season as opposing defences struggled to cope with the incessant fire power. Gray wrapped up the victory in the final minute.

If I remember correctly, we got back, had food and then went out to enjoy the pubs of Falsgrave!

Tadcaster Albion 2 Scarborough Athletic 3 (Tuesday 29th March 2011) Northern Counties East League Premier Division (att: 233)

My days off work fell for me to attend this midweek game, which I think was re-arranged because of the flooding earlier in the season. I took the Megabus to Leeds and then a service bus to Tadcaster in good time for a few pints in the main street.

Boro were in a bit of a strange position. They weren.t doing terribly, but they weren’t performing as well as many fans expected either. Manager Paul Olsson hadn’t done himself too many favours when he told a fans forum that he struggled to attract players to the club.

It looked as though the manager would be given until the end of the season before any changes were made. I spent some time in the company of Chairman Dave Holland and told him that Mitch Cook would be my choice as the next manager. He seemed happy to let things go for a while longer.

Boro went ahead through centre back Chris Jenkinson on thirty six minutes before future Scarborough player Carl Stewart levelled things up ten minutes after the break. Tadcaster went 2-1 ahead through Danny Pitts seven minutes later.

While Boro’s side drew criticism from quite a few fans, they always gave their best. The tactics were probably not always right and the players often lacked self belief, but they tried. This match was a perfect case in point.

Billy Law equalised on sixty four minutes, as the team played some nice stuff. Perhaps it was because the pressure of a title challenge had subsided or that there was not the same volume of visiting fans as usual, which allowed them to relax?

Whatever it was, the team played well and got a deserved winner when Ryan Blott converted a penalty with twenty minutes remaining, to the customary moans of the home fans. At full time Col Whelan gave me a ride back to my Dad’s.

The following morning, we were somewhat shocked when it was revealed that Olsson had been relieved of his duties after the game. A few days later Rudy Funk was installed as the new Boro manager.

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