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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Aberdeen FC is a football club from the Scottish city of the same name that was officially formed on April 14th 1903 following a merger of three local clubs.

Aberdeen had started out life in 1881 playing at Pittodrie Park, with Victoria United playing out of Central Park being founded in 1889. Orion FC were based at Cattofield from their formation in 1885. The new club moved in to Pittodrie.

After a season in Scotland’s Northern League, Aberdeen were elected into the Second Division of the Scottish League for the 1904-05 campaign; playing in gold and back and being nicknamed The Wasps under manager Jimmy Phillip.

Aberdeen were promoted to the First Division, despite only finishing seventh in their inaugural League season. The club would remain in the top tier of Scottish football throughout their history.

The team progressed to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup in 1907-08 and 1910-11 but progress was steady. From 1917 the club dropped out of competitive football for a couple of years as finances were desperately tight owing to the ravages of war.

The retiring Phillip was replaced by Paddy Travers in 1924 who led the team to the Cup final of 1936-37 following three more semi-final appearances. The match attracted a European record attendance of 147,365 to Hampden Park as Celtic won 2-1. Travers departed to Clyde, with Dave Halliday his successor.

Donald Colman had been coach under Travers reign. He was a deep thinker about the game who believed in studying players feet while they played. It was because of this that the club introduced dug outs, with Everton following suit after a visit north.

George Hamilton was one of Halliday’s early signings, with the forward becoming highly successful while with ‘The Dons’. The club were playing in red after World War Two, as they won the Scottish Cup in 1946-47 with a 2-1 win against Hibernian.

Further Cup finals were reached in 1952-53 and 1953-54, which ended in defeat to Rangers after a replay and then Celtic. However, the side were not to be denied honours as they were crowned as champions of Scotland for the first time in 1954-55.

Davie Shaw came in as the new manager following the title winning campaign, leading the team to a League Cup triumph over St Mirren in 1955-56. Shaw’s side also reached the Cup final of 1958-59, where St Mirren exacted revenge, before the manager departed with Tommy Pearson coming in.

Eddie Turnbull took over from Pearson in 1965; leading Aberdeen to the Scottish Cup final of 1966-67 where the team lost to Celtic, before defeating the same opponents 3-1 in 1969-70 with a brace from Derek McKay and a Joe Harper penalty.

The final appearances led to Aberdeen to appear in the European Cup Winners Cup, while decent league finishes also qualified for the UEFA Cup. The team didn’t progress beyond the second round in either competition.

Jimmy Bonthrone became team manager from 1971 to 1975, when he was replaced by Ally MacLeod who departed two years later to become the Scotland manager after leading the Dons to the League Cup in 1976-77 after defeating Celtic 2-1.

Billy McNeill arrived at Pittodrie and took the team to 1977-78 Cup final; going down 2-1 to Rangers. Alex Ferguson was McNeill’s replacement as he became Aberdeen manager in June 1978 as the club were to begin a golden period under the new man.

Veterans Joe Harper, Drew Jarvie and keeper Bobby Clark were coming to end of their careers. Ferguson set about building a new side. Players such as Jim Leighton, Willie Miller, Alex McLeish and Gordon Strachan quickly began to develop at Pittodrie.

The Dons were beaten League Cup finalists against Dundee United in 1979-80 after a replay, as the Glasgow dominance of Scottish football was transferred to the north east for a few precious years.

Aberdeen claimed their second Scottish title in that same season to compensate for the League Cup defeat. In 1981-82 the team hammered Rangers 4-1 after extra time to lift the Scottish Cup with goals from McLeish, Mark McGhee, Strachan and Neale Cooper.

This led to the club playing in the 1982-83 European Cup Winners Cup. Wins against FC Sion, Dinamo Tirana, Lech Poznań, FC Bayern München and Waterschei Thor took the team to the final.

The showpiece against Real Madrid was held at Nya Ullevi in Gothenburg, with Aberdeen winning the match 2-1 after extra time thanks to goals from Eric Black and John Hewitt. The action can be seen here.

To round off a fine season the team retained the Scottish Cup as an extra time Black goal defeated Rangers once again the form continued the following 1983-84 season as the Dons reached the semi-final stage of the Cup Winners Cup; going out to FC Porto.

Despite that disappointment, Aberdeen were crowned as Scottish League champions, with the double being completed with a Scottish Cup win in extra time over Celtic, with Black and McGhee scoring.

In 1984-85 Ferguson’s majestic team retained the Scottish Premier League title; going on to reach the quarter final of the European Cup in 1985-86; going out on away goals to IFK Göteborg but defeating Hibernian 3-0 to lift the League Cup for a third time.

Ferguson was lured away to Manchester United in November 1986. His assistant Archie Knox had a spell in charge before Ian Porterfield arrived at the club. He lasted until May 1988, when he was replaced by the partnership of Alex Smith and Jocky Scott.

In 1989-90 the Dons lifted the League Cup with a 2-1 extra time win against Rangers, before lifting the Scottish Cup as Celtic were defeated 9-8 after penalties with the likes of Stewart McKimmie, Jim Bett, Brian Irvine and keeper Theo Snelders enhancing their legendary status.

The 1990-91 season saw Aberdeen ahead of Rangers on goal difference going into the final game of the season at Ibrox. A double from Mark Hateley ended dreams of another Scottish title. Former playing hero Willie Miller took over as manager in 1992.

Unfortunately, Miller’s spell ended in disappointment as the team only preserved their top flight status with a play-off victory over Dunfermline Athletic after Roy Aitkin had taken over as team boss.

In 1995-96 Aberdeen defeated Dundee to win the League Cup before Alex Miller had a spell as manager. The club was struggling financially following the construction of the new Beach End Stand as Ebbe Skovdahl, became the clubs first overseas manager in 1999.

The Dane took the team to the League Cup and Cup finals in 1999-00; which ended in defeat to Celtic and then Rangers. Skovdahl lasted until December 2002 when he was replaced by Steve Paterson who lasted eighteen months before Jimmy Calderwood became the new manager.

Some decent league finishes saw Aberdeen compete in and reach the Round of 32 in the 2007-08 UEFA Cup; where they were defeated by FC Bayern München. Calderwood departed in May 2009 after leading the team to a fourth place finish.

At the same time the club announced plans to move to a new stadium to replace the ageing Pittodrie. It was initially suggested that it could be built at Nigg, although supporters were not in favour.

Former striking legend McGhee had a spell in charge of the team before Craig Brown was the next in the Pittodrie hot seat. Scott Vernon and then Niall McGinn scored the goals to keep the locals happy.

In 2013 the club put forward proposals for a new stadium development at nearby Calder Park that would benefit the community and also house neighbours Cove Rangers, but the plans were rejected the following year.

Derek McInnes was appointed as manager as he arrived from Bristol City in March 2013. The goals of Adam Rooney helped the team finish in third place in 2013-14 before ending as Premiership runners-up in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17.

The 2016-17 campaign also saw Aberdeen fall in the final hurdle of the League Cup and Scottish Cup, with Celtic being the victors on both occasions. The club put in an application to build a new stadium at Kingsford to the west of the city in 2017. The project was approved by Aberdeen City Council in January 2018.

Aberdeen FC will play in the Scottish Premiership in the 2017-18 season.

My visit

Aberdeen 0 Celtic 2 (Sunday 25th February 2018) Scottish Premiership (att: 17,602)

My planning for the visit to Aberdeen had begun several weeks in advance; like many of my adventures. Obtaining a ticket was not going to be straight forward because of crowd issues at previous encounters.

Police Scotland insisted that the club only sold tickets for matches against Celtic and Rangers to supporters who’d previously bought tickets through the club for other fixtures. However, I was to receive first class customer service from Aberdeen FC.

My email request was answered and told to resend my previous details. A note was added to my account to allow me to purchase my required match ticket over the phone. Having an updated seating plan enabled me to choose an ideal spot for £28.

It was a bit of a relief to be assisted as I’d already booked a flight for after the match back down to London. I’d arrived in the northern city after a wonderful two night stay in the company of pals Karl and Guy who’d travelled up from Yorkshire.

Amazingly I’d woken on Sunday morning in pristine condition, despite having a very good drink the day before. A walk from the Easy Hotel and a brekkie in McDonalds got my motor running once again before boarding the train at Queen Street.

I’d wondered if the service would be packed with Celtic fans? As it turned out it was a comfortable journey with plenty of space on board. The first part was through stunning countryside as The Jesus and Mary Chain provided my musical company.

From Dundee north there was spectacular views of the silvery ice cold North Sea and the coastline. Jean Michel Jarre was ideal music in the background. I arrived in the Granite City fifty minutes before kick off.

Google Maps on my IPhone has been a superb tool on my travels, but it doesn’t account for football matchdays, the traffic flow or special local deviations. I stood in the bus station for ten minutes before being told my required service wouldn’t stop at Pittodrie.

I headed back to the railway station and jumped into a cab for the slow ride along Union and then King Street. My friendly driver apologised as he hit heavy traffic and charged me £8, even though the metre said it was more.

The walk down Pittodrie Street became colder as I neared the stadium. I took a look behind the old Main Stand where I bought a programme for £3 and then took in the iconic turnstile block on Merkland Lane before entering the ground.

I probably upset several locals without realising as I headed straight to the counter of the tea bar to buy a Pittodrie Pie and a Bovril for £5.10. I didn’t notice the queue snaking up the steps behind me!

Pittodrie Stadium was showing its age, with the signs of its conversion to the second all seater football stadium in the UK after Clydebank back in 1978 very much evident, with plenty of terracing remaining in the corner by my entrance.

I was in the South Stand, which was bench seating for a while, before individual seats and a roof was erected. Several seats in the corner were in the open but offered a cheaper option and attracted the hard core support.

The Richard Donald Stand, named after a former chairman, was a two tiered modern cantilever stand at the Beach End. The Merkland Stand was behind the near goal with its cavernous low roof.

The final side was taken up by the Main Stand; which had a newer section of roof joining up with the old and a seated paddock in front of the main tier. Most pleasing was the sight of the remaining two floodlight pylons at the Merkland End.

My seat was about eight rows from the front and level with the edge of the penalty area. The DJ played some quality tracks and then ramped up the noise to encourage the home fans to get behind The Reds, without overdoing things.

Celtic came into the game six points clear of second placed Rangers, with Aberdeen nine points adrift. They really needed a win to put pressure on the reigning champions. The visitors had been dumped out of the Europa League by Zenit St Petersburg a few days earlier.

The Celts controlled the opening stages, playing the ball at ease between themselves. I was waiting for the Dons to try and take the game to them. Apart from a couple of sporadic attacks with Stevie May leading the front line, which looked threatening. Gary Mackay-Steven was a decent outlet on the left wing.

Scott Sinclair then saw a corner bounce off the top of the Dons bar before Olivier Ntcham beat Freddie Woodman in the Aberdeen goal, but saw his shot come back off the woodwork. However, the Celts weren’t to be denied nine minutes before the interval.

James Forrest crossed for Moussa Dembele to nod home at the back post. The goal brought about some real antagonism among the already very feisty atmosphere as four away fans were a little too vocal in celebrating the goal while in the home section.

They were sat next to the open corner, where several fans didn’t need a second invitation to show their anger. The visitors were taken to the front before the stewards and police tried to remove them from the ground back through the home fans.

This led to even more scuffles and missiles being thrown. Eventually the four were taken away along the front, but the incident fired up the Reds support who raised the decibels with referee Bobby Madden and Celtic skipper Scott Brown receiving plenty of feedback.

I remained in my position at the break and enjoyed some more quality tunes including Billy Ocean and The Killers. It was a bit of a shame that the players reappeared to kick off for the second half.

Aberdeen tried to make inroads and were having most of the possession, when with twenty minutes remaining Kenny McLean, Niall McGinn and Anthony O’Connor all had attempts blocked in front of goal in a prolonged attack.

Mikael Lustig received a second yellow card with fifteen minutes left on the clock as Celtic were reduced to ten men. Manager McInnes immediately introduced forward Sam Cosgrove to try and boost the hosts attacking force.

Celtic increased their lead when a fast counter attacking move saw the Aberdeen defenders, including the otherwise impressive and reliable Shay Logan backtrack too far to allow the move to flourish. The ball eventually found full back Kieran Tierney who smashed home at the near post.

Cosgrove was shown a straight red car from Madden for scything down Brown just eight minutes after his introduction, as Aberdeen’s frustrations grew. Shortly after I decided to make my way to watch the closing stages on the open section.

It was absolutely freezing. It hit home just how tough the folk must be living by the coast so far north as many didn’t even bother wearing hats. At full time I headed off at a bit of a pace to try and warm up and to find a pub to have a quick drink.

I’d sussed out the Blue Lamp on Gallowgate as somewhere worth visiting with its interesting range of ale. However, it was shut. The Brew Dog establishment nearby was full of hipsters stroking their beards, so I passed by. I wasn’t much of a fan of their beers anyway.

My App suggested The Triplekirks on Schoolhill, but there was no cask ale to be seen, before I eventually ended up in Ma Cameron’s; an old coaching inn with multiple rooms. A pint of Ossian from the Inveralmond Brewery and a Laphroaig whisky hit the spot.

Time caught up with me all too quickly. No doubt I’ll visit Aberdeen once again in the future. In the meantime, I caught the number 16 bus on Union Street to the airport to catch my flight at 5.40pm back to Heathrow. I took the bus option home where I warmed up before an early night.

My visit was well timed as in the following few days the whole of Scotland was hit badly as the UK encountered some very cold weather and heavy snow.

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