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 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 two of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard


September 2015

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Royal Wootton Bassett Town

Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC is a non-league football club from the town of the same name that is located six miles to the west of Swindon in Wiltshire, who were originally formed in November 1882.

The club initially played friendly games as Wootton Bassett Town FC, before becoming members of the Vale of the White League, followed by the Swindon & District League and then the Wiltshire County League. Games took place at ‘The Close’, where Tanners Close is now in the town.

The club folded in 1908 because of constraints laid down by the league, before the opening of the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground led to the revival of the football club to become tenants along with the town’s cricket club.

The club joined the Calne & District League; going on to lift the title of three occasions before re-joining an expanded Wiltshire League. At the end of the 1960’s the league was restructured, with Bassett joining the Wiltshire Combination.

In 1976 a new Wiltshire County Football League was established with Bassett being placed in Division One, from where they suffered relegations on a couple of occasions along with a successful promotion year.

Under manager Micky Woolford the team won the league and promotion to the Hellenic League in 1987-88. Woolford’s side consolidated in Hellenic League Division One before his departure in 1995. The club won the County Cup for the first time in 1999.

A year later Bassett won promotion to Hellenic League Premier Division before going back down to Division One West at the completion of the 2004-05 campaign. After a very poor finish, Bassett gradually rebuilt and eventually won promotion back to the Premier Division in 2009-10.

The club were demoted after just one season as their Gerard Buxton Sports Ground home on Rylands Way was deemed to have not the ground grading requirements. The 2012-13 season was the clubs last at Rylands Way, with the team winning promotion once again to the Premier Division.

The first team decamped to the Corinium Stadium, the home of neighbours Cirencester Town while the New Gerard Buxton Sports Ground was built on the outskirts of the town on Brinkworth Road where it housed many sports on completion in the summer of 2015 for the Wootton Bassett Sports Association.

At the same time that the ground was completed, the club added ‘Royal’ to their name to reflect the royal patronage which was awarded to the town in 2011.

Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC will play in the Hellenic League Premier Division in the 2017-18 season.

My visit

Royal Wootton Bassett Town 5 Burnham 1 (Saturday 8th October 2016) Hellenic League Premier Division (Att: 62)

With the day off work I looked at several options to go to more than one match as the nearby Western League were doing a groundhop over the weekend with staggered kick offs. While their earlier games were not the easiest to reach, the evening game at Calne was negotiable.

Swindon Town kicked off at lunchtime against Bolton Wanderers for Sky TV to fil in their schedule on this international break with no fixtures in the top two divisions. Royal Wootton Bassett is located between Swindon and Calne so their home game fitted the bill of filling in the later afternoon.

It wasn’t exactly ideal as the bus from Swindon would mean me missing the first half hour, but I could live with that. The number 31 bus dropped me at the end of Brinkworth Road before I completed my journey with a six or seven minute walk.

On my arrival the gate was opened so I paid no admission charge. The match programme was absolutely superb for £1.50. A bacon roll cost £2, with a tea to wash it down a further £1.20. I was immediately glad that I had made the effort.

The New Gerard Buxton Sports Ground was a really pleasant new build ground. One sensed that RWBT were a club on the up. The other facilities around the complex were also in use. It was obviously a facility appreciated by the local sporting community.

On my arrival I was a little disappointed to hear that the game was already about over as a contest. Opponents Burnham were bottom of the table and having real problems. Bassett were 2-0 up thanks to goals from Stephen Olphert and Dale Richards.

The match was played in very good spirit with very little chat towards the referee, but I noticed his badge was of the Army when he came off at the break. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of fear and respect!

Bassett were extremely well organised as a club with the team not too bad either. I felt for Burnham. Their young side tried to play proper football and some of the lads had some real ability, but they were not all that keen on the gritty unseen jobs on the pitch.

Former Watford heroes and Joint Managers Gifton Noel Williams and Luther Blissett did their best and I thought they were real gents, while being very frustrated. Burnham desperately needed a couple of grafters and experienced heads to help out the youngsters.

Stephen Robertson and Harry Spalding made it four in the second half. Cheyenne Cripps got one back for the visitors with the best goal of the day after a great passing movement. Lewis Thompson rounded off the scoring for Bassett

At full time I walked into town in search of a good pub, ideally showing the England game. The only one with a TV served a poor pint, while the Angel looked the best, but it was full of modern families, no TV and expensive prices.

I’d expected Royal Wootton Bassett to be a very pretty town full of tradition pubs and pretty scenery having seen it covered on many a sad news feature as military processions carried our fallen heroes through the town on their way from RAF Lyneham to John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. 

I found the town a bit of a disappointment as I hopped back on the 55 earlier than scheduled to head to Calne for the evening fixture.

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