Hopping Around The World

Welcome to volume one 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 loves 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 dad, Bob Bernard and my late dearly loved 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.

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.

To see volume two of HAOTW, please go to: www.worldgroundhoptwo.blogspot.com

Rob Bernard
London 2011

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bedworth United

Bedworth United FC is a non league football club from the former coal mining town of the same name in Warwickshire, located around five miles north of Coventry. The club was originally formed as Bedworth Town FC in 1895.

The club played in local competition before disbanding five years later. A second incarnation came in 1905 and lasted until the 1920’s, before another new club came along to replace it in 1925 playing in the Coventry & North Warwickshire League until 1940. The fourth Bedworth Town came following the War in 1947 as the joined the Birmingham Combination.

In their second and third seasons ‘The Greenbacks’ were crowned as league champions before progressing to the Birmingham & District League for the 1954-55 season. The league changed its name to West Midlands (Regional) League in 1962-63 before the club disbanded, leading to the formation of Bedworth United in 1968.

In 1972-73 United joined the Southern League, becoming members of Division One North. In 1979-80 the league was re-organised with Southern and Midland Divisions replacing the Premier Division. The Greenbacks were placed in the Midland section.

By 1982-83 the league reinstated the Premier Division, with Bedworth being placed in it. In 1989 the club suffered relegation back down to the Midland Division. In 1999-00 this was renamed the Western Division, before returning to its former name in 2006-07. United were placed in the newly named Division One Central for the 2010-11 campaign.

Under the managership of Steve Farmer the club won its first ever promotion in 2011-12 via the play offs with a 3-1 win over Beaconsfield SYCOB in the final to reach the Southern League Premier Division. However, relegation followed after just one season as Farmer departed soon after.

The club was transferred to Division One South of the Northern Premier League following their demotion, which led to a quick turnaround of managers. Ady Fuller took charge of the team in May 2013, but after a very poor start in their new environs he was replaced by former Bolton Wanderers, Exeter City and Brighton & Hove Albion star Stuart Storer in December 2013.

Bedworth United will play in the Northern Premier League Division One South in the 2013-14 season.

My visit

Bedworth United 0 Scarborough Athletic 3 (Saturday 22nd March 2014) Northern Premier League Division One South (att: 183)

My chance to visit Bedworth came because the fixture earlier in the season had been postponed because of the wet weather. The new date fell when I was on night shift and just one day before I departed on my annual cricketing jaunt to Chiang Mai.

Travel from London cost me just £14 return and meant I didn’t have to leave until 12.46. After changing in Nuneaton I’d arrived in Bedworth and walked the five minutes to the ground by 2.30. Admission was £8, with the programme another couple of quid.

Entry from the town end next to the Miners Welfare Park gave a fine view of The Oval from up a slope. It was a fine and tidy venue. On the far side there was a raised seated stand across the half way line, with tall trees enclosing that side. The near touchline had a cover in front of the clubhouse, with sponsors and directors facilities on its roof. The rest of the ground was open with a mixture of grass and hard standing. The near end had banking, while the far end doubled up as a car park, as did part of the clubhouse side.

The clubhouse was excellent. The Guinness was good; the room warm and not too big, with live sports on the TVs. Live feed of the Cardiff City v Liverpool game was being shown at the same time as our live match.

The downpour that greeted my arrival had given way to bright sunshine at kick off. Boro fielded two new signings; forward Grant Ryan and wide man Jordan Thewlis, which was definitely needed to freshen things up. Thewlis had a good header saved in the first minute before Ryan marked his debut with a fine finish on three minutes to put the Seadogs one nil up.

The visitors cheered on by around fifty travelling fans continued to create havoc for Bedworth with fast incisive football. Gary Bradshaw made it 2-0 as he swept home a fine cross from man of the match Jimmy Beadle.

Referee Alan Sarginson was becoming unpopular with the home fans with some of his decisions, which as often happened led to paranoia and widespread over the top moaning. The more the fans moaned, the less he gave their side. The Greenbacks had a decent spell up to the break without really threatening.

The chips and curry sauce after the break were top class for £1.90 as Boro kicked into the wind. United played far too many long balls, which Jason White in the Boro net gathered up. Play was scrappy with the ref blowing his whistle and brandishing yellow cards far too often, but it must be said that the home players were giving him every opportunity to take names.

Eventually centre back Marlon Walters was shown a second yellow card for persistent offending. Skipper Chris Tullin took real umbrage and was very fortunate not to follow his mate for petulance. Some of his team mates tried to calm him down. The home bench didn’t set the best example.

Scarborough’s forwards were being caught offside far too often as Bedworth’s rearguard played a high line with Mark Allbrighton having a fine game. However Boro’s players remained professional and kept possession to take the sting out of any threat, while keeping cool under occasional provocation.

Five minutes from time Chad Degville-Cross was sent off for his second yellow card, leaving the home side with nine men. Beadle broke and laid a chance on a plate for Thewlis, who somehow missed from close range. Beadle then had a shot of his own hit the side netting before he set up Thewlis once again. This time the former Brigg Town man made no mistake.

 Mr Sarginson got some real abuse for his troubles at full time shortly after. Boro had definitely got the rub of the green decision wise and he was maybe a bit card happy, but the home side were their own worst enemies.

After catching the full time scores back in the bar amongst the amiable locals, I headed to the station for the 5.22 service to Coventry.

On the first leg of the journey I felt so humble after a real reality check. I sat with a Scarborough fan called Ian who I’d met at games in the past as he always travels by train. The bloke never stops smiling each time I’ve come across him. Communication is done by lip reading, nodding, signs & careful listening.

What made the bloke so amazing is he that he follows Scarborough from Oxenholme in the Lake District, which is the other side of the country. He gets to all the games he can manage.
It certainly put big club TV moaners and Scarborough locals who couldn't be bothered to turn out apart from the glory games into perspective.

The service from Coventry stopped at Watford Junction, where I alighted and saved myself a bit of time getting back to Kingsbury for a kip before night shift. It had been a decent day out.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Chasetown FC are a non league football club from the Chasetown area in the town of Burntwood in South Staffordshire, approximately fifteen miles north west of Wolverhampton. The club were formed in 1954, originally as Chase Terrace Old Scholars Youth Club.

Within a year ‘The Scholars’ had joined the Lichfield & District League. By 1961-62 the club had moved up to the Staffordshire County League, where they remained for a decade. In 1972 they changed their title to Chasetown FC and joined the West Midlands (Regional) League.

Placed in Division One, Chasetown had a fine record with four runners up positions before securing the title in 1977-78. However, promotion was denied as the club played at a ground lacking facilities; Burntwood Recreation Centre. This was resolved in 1983 when the club moved to The Scholars Ground on Church Lane as Premier Division football was secured.

The League Cup and regional trophies were won as Chasetown became founder members of the Midland Football Alliance for the 1994-95 campaign. After several seasons without making an impact Charlie Blackmore took over as manager and began to oversee some marvellous times at the club.

In 2004-05 Chasetown ended as league runners up before landing the title in 2005-06, but it was through their FA Cup exploits that the club came to attention of football fans nationwide. Victories over Causeway United, Gedling Town, Belper Town, Cogenhoe United and Blyth Spartans saw The Scholars reach round one of the FA Cup. The club hosted Oldham Athletic on live TV, taking the League cup to a replay that was lost at Boundary Park.

The league success led to promotion to the Southern League Division One Midlands. Following a season of consolidation Chasetown were at it again in the Cup. Wins against Oadby Town, Rocester, Cambridge City, Rainworth Miners Welfare and Nuneaton Town saw the team reach Round One. Team Bath were dispatched before Port Vale were seen off at Church Street after a 1-1 draw at Vale Park. In the third round Cardiff City and the live Sky TV cameras came to town. City won the game 3-1, while a bond of long lasting friendship was built between the clubs. The Scholars also made the end of season play offs.

After three seasons as members of the Southern League, Chasetown were transferred across to the Northern Premier League Division One south for the 2009-10 campaign. In the first season in their new surroundings, promotion was won via the play offs following a final win against Glapwell.

After two seasons Chasetown were relegated in 2012. In the 2012-13 season the final of the play offs was once more reached. This time they lost out in a 2-1 defeat to Stamford.

Chasetown FC will play in the Northern Premier League Division One South in the 2013-14 season.

My visit

Chasetown 4 Scarborough Athletic 0 (Saturday 15th March 2014) Northern Premier League Division One South (att: 210)

Rather than heading straight to Scarborough after finishing work for my monthly long weekend break, I remained in London and decided to head to the match, before continuing north afterwards. I was to meet my old pal Guy Watson who was travelling down from Leeds, while Karl Theobald was going to Molineux for the Wolves v Shrewsbury Town game. He was to give us a ride back.

It was a lovely day as I got on the train to Birmingham New Street from Euston. On arrival I decided it was easier to catch a connection to Lichfield, rather than my original choice of Walsall. From there the number 60 bus dropped me outside The Junction pub, where Guy was already at the bar.

We had hoped of seeing some of the Hull City v Manchester City game on TV, but the pub was showing the climax to rugby’s Six Nations, as England ran amok in Rome. The beer in the pub was OK, but the decor was dated. After a pint we tried The Uxbridge over the road. The choice of ales was good, which would come in handy later in the day.

We walked down Church Street and paid £8 admission along with an extra couple of quid for a decent enough programme. The vibrant clubhouse was busy with nice people and friendly staff. The Supporters Club had their own stall selling souvenirs and draw tickets. I contributed, while they kindly stored my bag away.

Fred Firman was down for the game with his wife Helen, along with Trevor Bull who we stood with. The catering point was a mobile caravan, whose food was nice enough but some of the prices a bit steep. While I got stuck into my hot dog I surveyed the scene of The Scholars Ground.

The entrance side had a low seated stand which also contained the changing rooms, offices and changing rooms at the rear. A couple of steps of open terracing stood at either side. The end to the right had a semi permanent seated stand next to a quaint shed, which was the press box. Open flat standing with some impressive flags on the back wall took up the rest of the end. The far side had two wide steps of open terracing with the bug outs in front, while the final end was flat open standing with a small new covered terracing in the centre. The ground had plenty of scope for further development.

There was a minutes silence before kick off for loyal Scholars fan and Supporters Club founder member Mary Goddard. The PA fan mentioned how apt she was remembered at the game as she was born in Scarborough.

Chasetown started the game on top, but Boro gradually got to grips and looked at ease before the home side went ahead in strange circumstances. Seadogs full back Steve Ridley inexplicably headed a cross into the top corner of his own net. Around the same time Pete Davidson was helped from the pitch with a suspected broken collar bone.

Davidson’s replacement Jimmy Beadle added some much needed oomph as Boro had a good spell of play. Chris Bolder saw a shot come back off the base of the post as an equaliser looked like it was on its way. A clearance knocked my pint over to cheers from my unsympathetic mates.

We retired to the bar at the break still hopeful that our team may get something from the second half. We took up our place on the covered terrace but before long Andy Milne was left floundering for pace and made an awful challenge on the raiding wide man Jazz Luckie and quiet rightly being sent off for a second yellow card. I enjoyed a tray of chips to cheer myself up from the caterer who said he’d then sold out of all stock for the first time in three years!

For a while Boro played some nice stuff and showed signs of promise without really testing the home keeper Ryan Price. Sadly Bolder got a bad injury, which was rumored to be a broken foot, just to add to the team’s woes.

It got worse when the ref gave a penalty to Chasetown after Steve Ridley was outpaced. He brought down Ramone Stephens to receive a second yellow card, leaving Boro with nine men. Laughably some of the away section turned their anger on the official. Simon Brown smashed home the spot kick to make it 2-0.

Boro continued to try and play without any danger, while the home sides pace and physical presence was too much for the visitors time and time again. For some reason Matty Plummer held down Jermaine Johnson in the penalty area as a cross came in. Once more the referee correctly pointed to the spot, with Brown needing no second invitation as he made it 3-0.

Most rational Seadog fans were of the same opinion. Our team had been outthought, outfought and outpaced. We made our way around to the exit so I could collect my bag as a comedy fourth goal went in. A low corner was left by both Liam Sheppard on the near post and Jason White in goal. The ball went straight in from Lee Butler’s kick.

Just to put the icing on top of the cake Ryan Williams put in a poor challenge on Scholars sub Jono Gould. Gould unwisely retaliated and was shown a red card as the referee blew the final whistle. Williams was lucky to escape scot free.

The locals had been good all day and this continued back in The Uxbridge. Guy and I got talking to a Scholars convert who used to go everywhere with Aston Villa and England. We reminisced about the game we once loved at the top level as well as the music of the day before being joined by a father and son who’d been to Walsall Wood’s game.

Poor Karl had been stuck in traffic leaving Molineux. We had time for three pints before we said out goodbyes and jumped in. It was nice to see my old workmate Tim Mason had been to the Wolves with Karl. Sadly their game also disappointed as it ended 0-0.

Once back in Scarborough we had a few drinks on vibrant Falsgrave before my Dad collected us in the taxi. It had been a long but enjoyable day, ruined only by the performance of our respective teams. How many times have we said that!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fire United Christian

Fire United Christian FC is a non league football club based in London who represent the Yehoshua Ministries Ltd, a Brazilian church/cult based in the UK. The club were formed in 2012 to enter the Middlesex County League.

The leader of the church is the FA qualified Apostle Gustavo Ferreira who became the team coach, with home games being played at the Westway Sports Centre close to Latimer Road tube station. Rumours circulated that the club were looking to move to Crystal Palace Stadium for the 2014-15 campaign.

Most of the team played full time for the club, with several previously appearing at a high level of Brazilian football.

Fire United Christian FC will play in the Middlesex County League Division One East & Central in the 2013-14 season.

My visit

Fire United Christian 2 Pearscroft United 0 (Saturday 8th March 2014) Middlesex League Division One Central & East (att: 35)

My early shift at work was proving to be a pain in my quest to visit a new club. I didn’t finish until 2.30 pm but the glorious early spring weather had me yearning for some fresh air and live football action.

Help was at hand through the ever reliable suggestions on the Non League Matters forum (http://nonleaguematters.co.uk/forum/gforum.cgi?). I had remembered reading about fellow groundhoppers visiting FUC with decent reviews. Kick off was listed as 3.30pm on the league website, but 3pm on the FUC site. I emailed them early in the morning and had a reply within an hour that they were aiming for 3.15. The speedy service was the clincher for me.

To add to the intrigue, two games were to take place. The double header would consist of two games, each consisting of thirty minutes each way. This was the ingenious solution to solving the fixture backlog caused through the extremely wet weather.

I headed down to Latimer Road station and then the couple of hundred yards walk to the Westway Sports Centre. A match was already going on with the visiting Pearscroft players waiting in the small neat stand and the Brazilians outside the cage. Apostle Gustavo Ferreira the boss of FUC obviously spotted a stranger and came across to shake my hand and then give me a programme.

Eventually the ref, Mr Matthews, crow barred the earlier game off the pitch so we were ready for the first of two games, forming a double header to try and catch up with the fixture backlog.

The raised two row stand offered a decent view of the 3G pitch, which wasn't the longest and was extremely narrow. High caged fences surrounded the arena, with a car park under the pitch a la Monaco! The ref seemed fine with occasional spectators dotted around the ground against but inside the fencing. Both clubs had to provide a linesman. Before kick off I became the temporary club photographer to take a snap of the whole FUC gang. I was glad to see it's made the club website on the match report page that same evening!

The match was frenetic and action packed. The narrowness of the pitch meant little room for players in a fast paced encounter. Pearcroft had a manager of gargantuan size, and at times I thought he was about to pop. The young referee wasn't too bad, but he didn't exude a presence that would have been of benefit. After plentiful visitors pressure including a long throw that went to the back post, FUC went ahead through a Fernando Maraba goal midway through the first half of 30 minutes duration. Pearcroft contrived to miss an easy chance before Maraba doubled the lead after a shot came back off the post. The woodwork would continue to be tested throughout the game as the visitors struck the bar twice in the second period.

The second half started after just a couple of minute’s interval, and remained blank although again there was plenty of fast paced action. The ref only played 25 minutes in the second period, as the hire of the pitch only lasted 2 hours. During the break I was given a small Milky Way like chocolate from one of the Brazilians.

Sadly during the second half tensions were becoming fraught. There were badly timed challenges from both sides without any real intent. I simply feel it was down to lack of space on the pitch. Some of the visitors took up more than their opponents shall we say! There was one long handbag incident, which was extremely un Christian, nearly all the players losing their cool for a couple of minutes. Both sets of coaches and the Pearcroft senior players calmed their players down, while the ref stood back and let it evolve before booking the perpetrators. I thought that was excellent man management. 

The visiting United were unfortunate not to score, but man of the match Thiago Panzin marshalled the home defence well. In a tactical move Maraba was withdrawn for a rest before the second game.

After a short interval, it was onto the second of the double header, which turned out to be an unfortunate title .....

Pearscroft United 0 Fire United Christian 0 Abandoned after 20 minutes.

The game was nearing the end of the first half, when a terrible ariel collision brought proceedings to a halt. As mentioned, there was underlying tension on occasions. While it didn't lead to the accident, there was always a possibility that something could go badly wrong. The game was beginning to get strung out, as the teams realised route one football immediately put their opponents under pressure, as well as the lack of fitness of plenty of the players was beginning to tell. Two opposing players went up in the Pearscroft box and fell straight to the floor. Immediately there were shouts from nearby players to get urgent assistance.

Now this is where the earlier handbags had seemed silly, as every player and assistant did their bit to help the situation. First aid was given to the stricken players. The visitor apparently had a terrible deep cut, while the FUC landed horribly. An ambulance had been called while comfort was offered. The ref had no option but to abandon the match. The first game counted, but the second one would have to be replayed later in the season.

I noticed that the home player also received a cut and was taken away in a neck brace judging by photos on the website this morning. By then I was heading off back to the station, listening to The Clash to try and lighten the mood (well I was under the Westway!). It was encouraging to see the other smaller pitches fully occupied by youngsters of all races in replica kits.

All in all it was a slightly surreal experience. It certainly wasn't for the purists. However, the hosts were very friendly, the football crazy at times, it was free to get in and I got a chocolate and a programme. I left with thoughts to give it another whirl in the future! I hoped both players recovered fully. They would have been sore the following morning.