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

London

September 2015

Friday, July 14, 2017

Crystal Palace National Sports Centre


Crystal Palace National Sports Centre is a sports centre and athletics stadium in south east London which was opened in 1964, although the history of the area goes back much further and is of great significance in English sport.


The site of the current athletics stadium was the same site as the venue for the FA Cup Final from 1895 until 1914 as well as several England international football matches. The venue was overlooked by the magnificent Crystal Palace Exhibition Building, which was a huge tourist attraction.



FA Cup Finals at Crystal Palace

Year
Winner
Runners-Up
Score
Att:
1895
Aston Villa
West Bromwich Albion
1-0
42,560
1896
Sheffield Wednesday
Wolverhampton Wanderers
2-1
48,036
1897
Aston Villa
Everton
3-2
65,891
1898
Nottingham Forest
Derby County
3-1
62,017
1899
Sheffield United
Derby County
4-1
73,833
1900
Bury
Southampton
4-0
68,495
1901
Tottenham Hotspur
Sheffield United
2-2
110,802
1902
Sheffield United
Southampton
1-1
76,914
1902 R
Sheffield United
Southampton
2-0
33,050
1903
Bury
Derby County
6-0
64,000
1904
Manchester City
Bolton Wanderers
1-0
61,734
1905
Aston Villa
Newcastle United
2-0
101,117
1906
Everton
Newcastle United
1-0
75,609
1907
Sheffield Wednesday
Everton
2-1
84,584
1908
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Newcastle United
3-1
74,967
1909
Manchester United
Bristol City
1-0
67,651
1910
Newcastle United
Barnsley
1-1
76,980
1911
Bradford City
Newcastle United
0-0
69,098
1912
Barnsley
West Bromwich Albion
0-0
54,434
1913
Aston Villa
Sunderland
1-0
121,919
1914
Burnley
Liverpool
1-0
72,778



International Football Matches at Crystal Palace

3 April 1897 – England 1–2 Scotland
30 March 1901 – England 2–2 Scotland
1 April 1905 – England 1–0 Scotland
3 April 1909 – England 2–0 Scotland
4 March 1911 – England Amateurs 4–0 Belgium



Aside from the FA Cup Finals, the ground was also home to Crystal Palace FC until they moved in 1915.

The venue also hosted an England rugby union international, when the visiting New Zealand side won 15-0 in 1905.


London County Cricket Club were a first class county between 1900 and 1904 with WG Grace the club secretary and the team using Crystal Palace. Famous players included CB Fry, Johnny Douglas and K S Ranjitsinhji.

It is said the London CCC matches were little more than exhibition games and a money  making exercise for Grace. The club continued before folding in 1908.


A motor racing circuit was opened in the park in 1927, which also staged motor cycling. The first London Grand Prix was staged in 1937. The final international race on the track was held in 1972; with it remaining open to club meetings until its closure in 1974.

The Exhibition Hall burnt down in 1936, which meant to a drop in people attending the site. The construction of the sports centre bought it back to life.


The athletics stadium became the UK’s prominent venue for athletics, especially after the gradual demise of White City; with many records being broken on the track. The pitch in the centre was the home of Fulham Rugby League FC in the mid 80’s as well as American Football side; London Monarchs.


The sports centre became the home of the Crystal Palace and then London Towers basketball teams, while the swimming pool staged many national and international championships.

A Chinese company; ZhongRong Group put in plans to recreate a replica Crystal Palace and build a cultural and entertainment complex in Crystal Palace Park. Bromley Council pulled out of the possible deal in February 2015 after the group failed to meet deadlines.


The stadium was underused for many years; even more so after the Olympic Stadium was built over the river at Stratford. Tottenham Hotspur had planned to rebuild Crystal Palace stadium in return for their proposed move to Stratford. However, they decided to develop White Hart Lane instead.


Crystal Palace FC suggested building a new Crystal Palace Sports Arena to replace their Selhurst Park home in January 2011. The Eagles submitted plans to rebuild the stadium as a 40,000 seater football stadium without a running track, but with a new indoor aquatic and sports centre as part of the complex.


A Tramlink extension to the park was also included in the plans, but plans appeared to be put on the back burner following the sale of Palace to American owners. Non-league club AC London used the stadium in the 2015-16 season.


My visit

Monday 28th November 2016

I’d never got round to visiting Crystal Palace Park. Attending the Under 21’s game at Selhurst Park between Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic gave me the ideal opportunity. The game was poor and I was cold so I needed no real excuse to do something more interesting.


The 157 bus took me from Clifton Road to Crystal palace station at the entrance to the park. It was a lovely bright day and ideal for walking and taking photos.

While the stadium was closed, it was easy enough to take photos from several elevated views. Its two cantilever stands faced each other across the track, while the ends were open. It sat in a natural bowl and it became apparent how so many may have got a view of earlier cup finals.


The sports centre was a listed building; but it looked pretty ugly to me. It was more akin to something I imagined in an old communist state than belonging to the swinging sixties in London. The decade really did allow some monstrosities in construction.

My main point of interest was walking around the vast foundations that were still in place from the palace. How I hoped that the rebuild could take place. It must have looked an amazing site overlooking London on one side and the park and Surrey on the other.


The light was drawing in as I departed. I could have spent far longer just walking around and enjoying the views and scenery. As I headed for a bus to Brixton I pondered just how so many people used to visit for those halcyon FA Cup Final’s from cities hundreds of miles away before navigating their way across the capital.


It must have been something purely magical. Oh to find that time portal! Instead I headed to see the Jarvis’s at Hampstead CC before meeting Steve Barnes to go for a pint before the Haringey Borough v Thamesmead Town match.


It had been a packed fun day out; which most can be in London if you put in the effort.







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