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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

FC Porto (Portugal)

Futebol Clube do Porto, or FC Porto as the club is more commonly known is a professional football club from the city of Porto that was formed on September 28th 1893 as Foot-Ball Club do Porto by António Nicolau de Almeida, a local port wine merchant and avid sportsman.

The club entered a period of inactivity around the turn of the twentieth century owing to a waning of interest by Almeida, until Porto were revived on August 2nd 1906 under José Monteiro da Costa; who like Almeida had fallen in love with the game while studying in England.

The club also began to promote other sports such as gymnastics, weightlifting, wrestling, athletics and swimming. The football club rented its first ground; Campo da Rainha and appointed their first coach; the Frenchman Adolphe Cassaigne.

In 1912 Porto worked with local club, Leixões to form the Associação de Futebol do Porto (Porto Football Association) with ‘Dragões’ lifting their first league title in 1913-14. The club would go on to win the regional championship six times in seven years.

By then Porto had moved to The Campo da Constituição, which was opened with a match against Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club in January 1913.

Porto also won the Taça José Monteiro da Costa, the Campeonato do Norte de Portugal outright with three victories. In 1921-22 the Campeonato de Portugal was created as clubs competed for the national title for the first time; with Porto being crowned champions over Sporting CP.

Porto would collect that particular title on another three occasions under coach József Szabó. The Primera Liga was formed in 1934-35 and would quickly become the major league competition in Portugal. By 1938-39 the competition was renamed as Primeira Divisão.

The Campeonato de Portugal would become the national cup competition; the Taça de Portugal. Porto soon established themselves as a leading national club with championships in 1934-35, 1938-39 and 1939-40 under the management of Szabó and then fellow Hungarian Mihály Siska.

In 1950 the club began work on their new Estádio do Futebol Clube do Porto, which became known as Estádio das Antas after the eastern neighbourhood in which it was located. The stadium was opened with a 8-2 defeat to bitter rivals SL Benfica.

After a sixteen year title drought Porto lifted the Primeira Divisão in 1955-56, going on to complete the double with a 2-0 victory over SCU Torreense at Estádio Nacional in the Taça de Portugal with Brazilian Dorival Yustrich in charge of the team.

The cup was regained in 1957-58 with a 1-0 win against SL Benfica under coach Otto Bumbel. Another Hungarian, Béla Guttmann had taken over as coach as a fifth league title arrived at the club in 1958-59.

The team being denied another double after SL Benfica exacted revenge in the final of the the Taça de Portugal. Porto would then enter a period without a trophy as the two major Lisbon clubs came to the fore.

The cub went through many coaches at an alarming rate. Eleven men from five different nations all failed to deliver a major trophy to Estádio das Antas until the Poruguese, José Maria Pedroto led Porto to a third Taça in 1967-68 with a 2-1 win against Vitória de Setúbal.

Elek Schwartz, Vieirinha and then Tommy Docherty had spells during the 1969-70 season as Porto finished in a record low ninth position in the Primeira Divisão. Ten more coaches would take charge between May 1971 and July 1976 before the appointment of José Maria Pedroto.

Tragedy hit Porto on December 16th 1973 as the twenty six year old club skipper, Pavão fell unconscious on the pitch during a game with Vitória de Setúbal before later dying in hospital. A month later the club completed the highly successful signing of Peruvian international Teófilo Cubillas.

Under Pedrota, Porto won the league title in 1977-78 and 1978-79 as well as the Taça de Portugal following a 1-0 victory against SC Braga at Estádio das Antas before losing the next season’s final against Sporting CP after a replay.

António Morais was in the position of head coach, as Porto lifted another Taça in 1983-84 as Rio Ave were defeated 4-1. The same season would also see the club reach their first European final.

Dinamo Zagreb, Rangers, Shakhtar Donetsk and Aberdeen were defeated as Porto reached the final of the European Cup Winners Cup; where they were defeated 2-1 by Juventus at St. Jakob Stadium in Basel with António Sousa netting the Dragões goal.

Former Portugal forward Artur Jorge took charge at Porto in July 1984 as the club entered its most successful period since their formation. The team went on to win the Primeira Divisão in 1984-85 with Fernando Gomes banging in the goals and again in 1985-86.

Estádio das Antas was extended as the cycling and athletic tracks were removed and the pitch lowered so an extra tier was created, which initially increased capacity to 95,000; which would later be reduced to 55,000 by the placing of individual seats.

The second league triumph set Porto on an historic European Cup run. Rabat Ajax, Vítkovice, Brøndby and Dynamo Kyiv were defeated to set up a final against FC Bayern München. Late goals from Rabah Madjer and Juary overturned a 1-0 deficit to lift the trophy.

Jorge was replaced by the Yugoslav Tomislav Ivić, who took Porto to the league and cup double in 1987-88; with victory in the Taça being achieved with a 1-0 win against Vitória de Guimarães. The team also won the Intercontinental Cup against Peñarol and the European Super Cup against Ajax.

Artur Jorge returned to the club as the team won the Primeira Divisão title in 1989-90 and the Taça in 1990-91 following a 3-1 extra time win against Beira-Mar before he was replaced in August 1991 by Carlos Alberto Silva who would lead the team to the league titles of 1991-92 and 1992-93.

Ivić returned for a short spell before Bobby Robson took over as head coach in January 1994. Porto progressed through the group stages of the UEFA Champions League before going out to FC Barcelona in the semi-final before the team lifted another Taça de Portugal victory; this time over Sporting CP.

Porto won their fourteenth Primeira Liga in 1994-95 to start a run of five consecutive finals as the club were also victorious in 1995-96 under Robson as Domingos Paciência finished as the league top scorer.

António Oliveira was head coach as Porto won the league in 1996-97 and 1997-98, with the side also winning their ninth Taça to complete the double in May 1998 with a 3-1 win against SC Braga.

Fernando Santos led Porto to the Primeira Liga title in 1998-99 as Mário Jardel continued to lead the league scoring charts before the team won the 1999-00 and 2000-01 Taça de Portugal with wins against Sporting CP and then Marítimo with goals from Pena and Dmitri Alenichev.

After a short spell from Octávio Machado, Porto appointed José Mourinho as head coach in January 2002 in what was an inspired choice. The new man led the team to the league title and another Taça against União de Leiria in 2002-03 as well as taking Porto to further European glory.

Porto won the UEFA Cup in the same season to complete the treble as they defeated Polonia Warsaw, Austria Wien, Lens, Denizlispor, Panathinaikos and SS Lazio to reach the final; where Celtic were defeated 3-2 after extra time at Estadio Olímpico de Sevilla as Derlei scored twice with Alenichev netting the other goal.

After Portugal had been awarded the 2004 European Championships, Porto decided to take the opportunity to build a brand new stadium. The new site was located a few hundreds of meters southeast of the Estádio das Antas.

After two years construction, Estádio do Dragão was opened with a 2-0 victory over FC Barcelona in front of 52,000 fans, in a game that also marked the professional debut of Lionel Messi.

Porto retained the Primeira Liga title in 2003-04 as Benni McCarthy topped the scoring charts while the ever reliable Vítor Baía keeping goal, Ricardo Carvalho marshalled the defence and Deco carved out numerous opportunities.

However, a greater glory came in the Champions League in the same season. Porto finished as runners-up to Real Madrid in the group stage before seeing off Manchester United, Olympique Lyonnais and Deportivo La Coruña to set up a final against AS Monaco.

The match was played at Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen and saw Mourinho’s side become champions of Europe for a second time with a 3-0 win with goals from Carlos Alberto, Alenichev and man of the match Deco.

Víctor Fernández took over from Mourinho, who departed for Chelsea after the final, and led the team to Intercontinental Cup for a second time after defeating Colombian side Once Caldas on penalties in Yokohama.

Dutchman Co Adriaanse was appointed as coach for the 2005-06 season tasked with rebuilding a team that had gradually broken up. New signings Lucho González and Lisandro López led the side to a twenty first Primeira Liga title.

Porto completed the double with a 1-0 win over Vitória de Setúbal in the final of the Taça de Portugal by courtesy of an Adriano goal. The remainder of the decade continued to bring further success to the club under Portuguese head coach Jesualdo Ferreira.

The league title was secured in 2006-07, 2007,08 and 2008-09, with the third of the triumphs coinciding with another double as the Taça was won with a 1-0 victory over Paços de Ferreira with a goal from top scorer López.

The trophy was retained the following May as Chaves were defeated 2-1 with goals from Fredy Guarín and new hero from River Plate; the Colombian Radamel Falcao. Even better was to come for the Estádio do Dragão faithful in the 2010-11 campaign.

Under André Villas-Boas, Porto were crowned as league champions as well as lifting the cup for a third consecutive season with a 6-2 hammering of Vitória de Guimarães. Ace goalscorer James Rodríguez netted a hat trick with Silvestre Varela, Rolando and Hulk also on target.

In the UEFA Europa League victories over KRC Genk, a group win ahead of Beşiktaş and then further successes against Sevilla, CSKA Moscow, Spartak Moscow and Villareal saw Porto progress to the final.

In the showpiece, Porto defeated near neighbours SC Braga 1-0 at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium with a goal from Falcao. Villas-Boas departed for Chelsea with his assistant Vítor Pereira taking over the reigns. The new man made it twenty seven Primeira Liga titles with successes in 2011-12 and 2012-13 as Jackson Martinez took over the role as leading striker.

Pereira departed in June 2013 to be replaced by Paulo Fonseca and then the Spaniard Julen Lopetegui. Arch rivals SL Benfica’s successes in lifting the Primeira Liga put pressure on Porto despite the goals of Martinez, who employed José Peseiro as coach from January 2016.

The appointment didn’t pay off, with Nuno Espírito Santo coming in and leading Porto to a runners-up berth in 2016-17. The club replaced Santo with former Porto and Portugal winger, Sérgio Conceição, in June 2017.

FC Porto will play in Primeira Liga in the 2017-18 season.

My visit

FC Porto 5 AS Monaco FC 2 (Wednesday 6th December 2017) UEFA Champions League Group G (att: 42,509)

I’d been designated a weeks annual leave from work, so my plans for a trip somewhere a little warmer were put in place several months in advance. Cheap flights were obtained with Easy Jet with the following night’s Europa League game in Guimarães making it a perfect outing.

Tom Stockman, the hard working manager of the Silver Jubilee Park home of Hendon and Edgware Town had hinted that he fancied an overseas trip. His colleague Rob Morris and I got together and arranged a little surprise for our mate.

We met early at Wembley Central on a cold morning. England had blown their slim chance in the Ashes Second Test and I was short on sleep after my trip down from York the previous evening had been blighted with delays.

Our flight was on time and we had a fine few hours exploring the wonderful city of Porto in sunny weather and temperatures in the teens. It really was a fine place with many hills and interesting buildings along with a fantastic quayside to the Douro River.

We decamped to our excellent accommodation; Porto D’ Ēpoca II, for a siesta before awaking thirsty, hungry and ready to take in the full experience of Estádio do Dragão. The Metro from 24 de Agosto took us to the designated stadium station in just a few minutes.

We walked around outside the north end of the impressive arena and up the slope by Almeda Shopping Mall, where souvenir and food and drink stalls were setting up. Drinks were €1.50 for Super Bock or Sagres. We enjoyed a few halves before heading over the road.

I’d bought our tickets online for €20 each. The ladies in charge of the accommodation printed them out for me and offered some valuable advice for Porto; while Tom picked up a leaflet that would be extremely useful post match.

We got through a security and then ticket check and climbed to the upper tier. The stadium confusingly had different numbers to each entrance to the corresponding block of seats. We thought we’d struck lucky with half way line seats until the locals put us right. Not that we could complain with our excellent view.

Estádio do Dragão really was an excellent stadium, with once continuous lower tier. The sides had upper tiers shaped like the stands at Huddersfield. The roof was a continuous bowl with gaps open behind both goals to allow light and wind to assist the pitch’s growth.

Tom’s Brazilian Portuguese continued to be a major help as he spotted that the beer inside the stadium was alcohol free. We went for the meal combo of bafana in a roll (marinated meat) and fries with a coffee or coke. The meat was a far better quality than that I’d tried at Benfica.

Porto went into the repeat of the 2004 Champions League Final needing a win to secure their passage to the next round; or hope that RB Leipzig achieved a worse result against group leaders Beşiktaş.

The stadium was by no means full, but the crowd in attendance would create a fantastic atmosphere throughout. The visitors from the south of France were cheered on by a couple of hundred fans opposite us.

We’d actually bumped into the Monaco side earlier in the day, when we got off the Metro from the airport to try and have a look inside the Estádio do Bessa home of Boavista. ‘Les Monégasques’ were staying at the nearby Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa and came out of the hotel as we walked by.

Porto began the match the more positive even though both sides displayed undoubted quality. They went ahead on nine minutes when Vincent Aboubakar latched onto a Yacine Brahimi pass following a half clearance to slot home.

The man on the PA boomed out the name of the scorer many times as the crowd joined in. A sweeping move just past the half hour mark saw Danilo Pereira set up Aboubakar for his second goal, while Leipzig went behind in Germany; much to the joy of the vocal home fans.

Seven minutes before the break both sides were down to ten men. Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson decided to show straight red cards to the home side’s Felipe and Monaco’s Rachid Ghezzal for violent conduct after a disagreement led to a series of mass pushing and shoving.

It looked all up for the visitors on the stroke of the half time whistle. A beautifully weighted dinked pass from Aboubakar sent in Brahimi past the threadbare French defence to slot past visiting keeper Diego Benaglio.

The wide concourses in the stadium were pretty basic, but there was a TV showing all the other Champions League goals at the break. The temperature was down to 6’, so it was nice to go inside for a few minutes rest bite.

The half time team talk from Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim seemed to inspire his team after the break. They looked a lot more determined; although that could have been down to Porto sitting on a comfortable lead?

Soualiho Meité was trying to pull the strings for Monaco in midfield and looked a fine player. Both Tom and I agreed that a goal to reduce the arrears could make things interesting. Adama Diakhaby, Meité and Rony Lopes all had efforts on goal.

It took a fine bit of defending by Terence Kongolo to deny Moussa Marega and keep thje score at 3-0 before the visiting side were given a lifeline on the hour mark. Referee Eriksson decided that Iván Marcano handled the ball with Kamil Glik converting the spot kick.

Meité went very close to further narrowing the arrears before Alex Telles scored with a wonderful low left footed shot from the outside of the area to make it 4-1. Shortly afterwards Monaco brought on former Porto players João Moutinho and Radamel Falcao who both received impressive ovations.

Both sides continued to play attacking football, which made it a very decent viewing spectacle. Falcao reduced the arrears once more with a fine header from a Keita Baldé cross. Porto fans applauded the goal, with Falcao responding in kind.

The scoreboard showed that Leipzig were losing 2-1. All the home fans were in party mood, assisted when Ricardo Pereira crossed for Tiquinho Soares to score with a good header from the centre of the box to make it 5-2 with just a couple of minutes remaining.

We scarpered well into stoppage time to head back round to the Estadio do Dragao station. We nearly got on the wrong train, but Tom quickly got us back on track as we headed into the city. The organisation was first class.

We looked to see if there was any bars between 24 de Agosto and Rua da Alegria; the main shopping street. The streets were lit up with pretty Christmas lights, but little else. Fortunately we had a good stand by.

Tom had picked up a leaflet for Letraria Craft Beer Garden when I was getting the tickets printed. We were turned away at 4.30pm as they didn’t open until 5; but we now had a couple of hours to adventure. The service proved to be first class.

The beers were probably too strong in a lot of cases; I started on a beer with junipers at 8.5%, but we were sipping rather than quaffing and the glasses were smaller. The gent behind the counter gave us a big bowl of peanuts and several free samples.

It was a bit of a worry getting up to go to the downstairs loos, but it certainly warmed me through. It was top quality stuff and turned out to be decent value when we settled up at the end. The drinking was perfectly accompanied by some fine old rock music.

It had been a fabulous day in a great city. The football had more than matched it!

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