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

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Dorking Wanderers

Dorking Wanderers FC is a non-league football club from the Surrey market town of Dorking; located around twenty miles south of London. Wanderers were formed in 1999 by founder members Marc White, Peter Buckland, Mark Lewington, Ian Davidson, Lee Spickett and Penny Gregg.

The club initially competed in the Crawley and District Football League, playing at Big Field Brockham. After just one season Wanderers moved to the West Sussex League; winning Division Four at the first attempt in 2000-01.

The Division Three title was secured in 2001-02; before a third place Division Two spot in 2002-03 was enough to secure promotion to the Premier Division.

Dorking Wanderers won West Sussex League's Premier Division in 2006-07 to gain promotion to Division Three of the Sussex County League, as the club moved to the Westhumble Playing Fields on London Road; before lifting the divisional title in 2010-11 to gain promotion to Division Two.

A third place finish at the first time of asking was enough to see the club elevated to Division One in 2011-12; but only after a successful appeal as the FA initially denied Wanderers promotion owing to ground grading issues.

This was an interesting time for senior football in the town of Dorking, as historical Dorking FC, who had been formed in 1880, had hit difficult times in Division One of the Combined Counties League with gates plummeting at an increasingly dilapidated Meadowbank.

Dorking FC were forced out of Meadowbank; to share with Horley Town in the summer of 2014, owing to health and safety issues at the ground.

The completion of the 2014-15 season saw Wanderers win promotion to Division One South of the Isthmian League after finishing as runners-up in Division One of the Sussex County League.

The meteoric rise at Wanderers continued under manager and chairman Marc White in the 2015-16 campaign, as the side reached the play-offs in the league; where they were defeated 2-1 by Faversham Town.

In March 2016 the Dorking Football Development Alliance was formed between Wanders and Dorking FC with an aim of both clubs benefitting from the move to the redeveloped Meadowbank when complete. Dorking FC moved into Wibbundune for the 2016-17 season.

Dorking FC announced that they would be disbanding at the end of the 2016-17 campaign to allow Wanderers to become the senior club in town and to give them the best chance of bringing a higher standard of football to Dorking.

To read the full story of Dorking FC and see photos of the old Meadowbank; please click here

Wanderers reached the Isthmian League Division One play-offs in 2016-17; defeating Hastings United on penalties and then Corinthian Casuals; again on spot kicks to secure a place in the Premier Division.

Meanwhile, the development of Meadowbank continued, with delays. It was announced that the Surrey FA would also be based at the new complex.

Dorking Wanderers FC will play in the Isthmian League Premier Division in the 2017-18 season.

My visits


Friday 30th December 2017

My good pal Steve Walker needed some provisions delivering out to Bangkok after the package had initially been returned. His mate, colleague and my mutual friend Mark Dunmall was over from Bangkok in his home town of Dorking.

As I was on nights, I took the opportunity to have a ride into deepest Surrey and to also grab a look and see how the redevelopment of Meadowbank was going on? I went there first while there was still some light.

It was certainly very much a work in progress, but at least it was ongoing; something the football supporting public of the town deserved. I had my doubts as to whether it would be ready for the commencement of the 2017-18 season.

It was good to see Mark; albeit briefly. I also got chance to have a brief look at the attractive little town centre, and promise myself an early arrival to try out some promising looking pubs before attending a match.

Little did I know at the time, but when I would get round to seeing a game at the revamped Meadowbank, Dorking FC would be no more and it would have to be for a Dorking Wanderers match. At least the situation appeared to be amicable.


Dorking Wanderers 0 Hendon 0 (Tuesday 19th December 2017) Isthmian League Premier Division (att: 184)

Our little gaggle of Hendon fans had a tremendous afternoon and post match celebration following the Greens FA Trophy victory against Bath City the previous Saturday. It was decided we should head to Dorking to cheer on the boys a few days later.

The line up was always going to be a bit of a guess, so it was good to turn up at Wetherspoons in Victoria station to find four pals in attendance. Neil, Dean, Steve Speller and Keith were all in good spirits.

The beer choice was a help as the chat was about the Trophy draw away to Sutton and should we have an extra beer and catch a later train. The beer was flowing as we watched our original choice; the 18.02 depart. while also chatting to a Chipstead fan who was on his way to watch his side at Enfield Town.

It was therefore a bit of a blow when we headed downstairs to find that our 18.20 service was delayed by fifteen minutes. This would mean we’d be cutting it fine for kick off at the other end.

However, some stations were missed out on route because of the delay and we arrived at Box Hill and Westhumble just before 19.30. Our fare was a bargain £6 return thanks to the discount from my Network railcard.

We certainly appeared to be in a pretty part of the world. Even in darkness, the way down to London Road was very nice, if a little precarious to negotiate at times. Even the main road was in semi-darkness. It was good to see the floodlights across the field.

The lane up to the Westhumble Sports Ground was also uneven and dark. It really did look a pleasant location; even without the views of Box Hill in the distance. Admission was £10 at the neat hut, with a very professionally produced programme costing a further couple of quid.

Wanderers had made the very best of an admittedly basic venue. There was no spectator access down one side, where just a fence and the benches separated the pitch from a second one behind.

The near end goal had hard and grass flat standing, a small modern covered metal terrace and the wooden changing room huts. Meshed fencing protected the players from spectators to the pitch. The far end goal had a strip of open flat grass and hard standing.

The main spectator facilities stood down the Railway Side, with the same open standing arrangements and then three covered structures, offering standing and seats, along with the refreshment hut and clubhouse.

Wanderers had certainly used timber as the main source of the ground. All fencing and many of the buildings were made of wood. I would imagine a local DIY superstore would have done very well out of the venue!

Hunger had kicked in, so I went for a cheeseburger for £4.20; which was OK, along with a cup of tea for £1. Steve selected a hot dog later in the game and said it was pretty good. Cans of beers were available for £3.

Hendon, playing in all navy blue, took the lead early in the game when the prolific Niko Muir slotted home a fine pass from Zak Joseph past Slovakian keeper Slavomir Huk who had rushed to the edge of his box.

It was good to see and have a quick chat with former Hendon legend Kevin Maclaren who was at the game supporting his old club and brother, Casey; who was captaining the team. He was as amiable and gentle as ever, despite having a rather different demeanour on the pitch.

Joseph was to be the provider once again on ten minutes as Hendon were running their hosts ragged. His cross was volleyed home at the back post by Michael Corcoran. A big away win looked a distinct possibility. Muir spurned an opportunity to make it 3-0 shortly after.

The Wanderers players and management were not slow in complaining to the referee about anything and everything. They looked to put pressure on the officials at every opportunity and became tiresome very quickly.

We’d been told that referee, Mr S Williams, was been assessed by an official in the crowd. Nothing created a more panicky performance from an official than been watched, in my experience over the years. And so it was to be once again.

I got chatting to a couple of friendly locals under the cover, who told me that the former fans of Dorking FC had been made most welcome and that Meadowbank was progressing and scheduled to be open with the local derby with Leatherhead a couple of months later.

A direct merger was decided against, as it was believed that a merged club would take on the league status of the lower of the ranked clubs. That would have meant that Wanderers achievements and remarkable rise would have gone to waste.

I also read later in the informative programme, that Westhumble would be downgraded once Meadowbank opened and return to being a sports ground with just minimal structures; as agreed with local residents when the club had to upgrade to meet FA stipulations.

Meanwhile, Hendon were still going great guns out on a firm pitch with a wet and slippery surface; which wasn’t the easiest at times to play on. Half chances were still being created; while the defence was doing a fine job in restricting the occasional Dorking attack.

Muir was once again set free. He went round Huk, but found himself at a narrow angle. He tried to lay the ball square, but the danger was snuffled out.

Substitutions to both starting eleven’s were made throughout the game. The same pattern to the match continued after the interval. Hendon were pretty much in control. The referee continued to frustrate. He’d handed out an early needless yellow card and made a rod for his own back.

Muir and Joseph continued to cause trouble for the Wanderers defenders; while Huk didn’t fill me with lots of confidence behind them. The home teams number four; David Ray, was having a particularly awkward evening.

Referee Williams upset the visiting team with half an hour to go. Dorking’s James McShane made a poor challenge when attack, which upset the Hendon players. Harley Wise was particularly upset. There was a brief melee, from which the official decided he should be given a straight red card.

It said something about the professionalism of Hendon’s performance that there was no notable difference to possession or the pattern of the game when they were a player short. Chances were still being created.

The quality attacking finally took its toll on the overworked Dorking defenders. Joseph made his way to the byline from the right wing. His fierce low cross was diverted into his own net by substitute Isaac Philpott.

Muir missed another guilt edged chance when put through. He was one on one with the keeper but put his shot wide of the far post. Joseph’s lob landed on the top of the net as the game came to a conclusion.

The three elder chaps in our party had missed the final chance. The game had kicked off late and the ref added five minutes injury time in the first half. It meant that we may struggle for the 22.02 train.

As it transpired, the service was five minutes late arriving. We were glad to get on board a quiet and warm train as we finished off the last of the Glenfiddich whisky from my hip flask; which had helped keep out the cold throughout the night.

We arrived back at Victoria just before 23.00 with many Arsenal fans waiting to board their trains south of the river after their League Cup tie with West Ham. I know who had the better evening, judging from the texts from my Hammers supporting friends.

Steve and I were back at Kingsbury before 23.45. I left my pal to head off for last orders, while I needed some shut eye before a 5.30 alarm call for work. It had been another top night supporting our local club.

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