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Doing the 92: A father and son’s groundhopping journey

11:23 PMGoalChatter

by Aleks V |
Photos: Chris Priday |

From Luton to Macclesfield, Liam and Chris Priday have been to all 92 grounds in the Football League.

Chris Priday and 7-year-old son Liam aren’t your average football fans. A few years ago, the groundhopping father and son duo took on the challenge of doing the 92, a project that involves visiting all 92 Football League grounds. On September 15, 2018, they completed their mission with a trip to Moss Rose, home of Macclesfield Town FC.

As of this writing, Liam and Chris have visited 259 grounds across professional and non-league football. GoalChatter spoke to Chris about the origins of their groundhopping pastime, the highlights of their journey, and plans for future travels.

Doing the 92 is a pretty popular activity these days, but how did it all begin for you? What prompted the journey?
I have been taking Liam to non-league football matches since he was 2 and had tried him at his first of the 92 - Southampton - when he was almost 4. When I discovered I could get cheaper rail travel when traveling together using a Family & Friends Railcard, I decided to try a couple of longer trips taking in Nottingham Forest, Derby County, and Sheffield United. However, the decision to attempt to try for the 92 came a year after that. There were rumors the FA were planning to increase the teams in the League from 92 to 100. “Doing the 100” doesn't have the same ring to it as “doing the 92” so I booked tickets to a few more 92 grounds. Those rumors did fade away in the end, but by this point we'd got to a stage where we were over halfway to completion and so we just went for it.

Which grounds have been your and Liam’s favorite to visit, and what made those particular experiences stand out?
For me, every ground has its own charm and even those more modest ones such as Morecambe and Forest Green have been fantastic experiences. There are so many great ones to choose from. I really enjoyed visiting Elland Road, Anfield, and St. James’ Park especially as they are fantastic stadiums and clubs with real history. Molineux and Valley Parade were probably my two favorites. Molineux is so aesthetically pleasing – I love the black and orange colors. Valley Parade is another ground with plenty of history and character, and their fans were excellent. Liam was also a big fan of Molineux but his favorite was Old Trafford as his granddad is from Manchester and a United fan.

Liam at Keepmoat Stadium, home of Doncaster Rovers

Which grounds have you revisited the most?
Our most visited ground together would be our local team Havant & Waterlooville, whilst of the 92 we have visited Southampton four or five times. On my own, my most visited ground would be the Abbey Stadium which I've visited nearly 200 times. I am a Cambridge United fan and was a season ticket holder for seven years before we moved further down south.

What grounds were the most difficult to travel to? Did you ever brave tough weather to get to any of the games?
We travel by train 95% of the time and make a concerted effort to walk to the ground from the nearest station. Yeovil was certainly the most challenging. It was a wet day in February and part of the 4 mile walk is along a muddy public footpath on a hill above the roadside. Conditions were slippery and we nearly fell. I'd never attempt that walk again!  
We've certainly faced some difficult weather conditions as well. Bristol Rovers springs to mind. That was a 3 mile walk in pouring rain. We were soaked by the time we got to the ground. We visited Morecambe during the freezing temperatures (Beast from the East!) earlier this year. That was a bitterly cold one, despite the sun coming out for the second half.

Liam at Oxford United, October 2016

 Anything funny ever happen during your travels that you can share?
Traveling back from Bradford City, we were waiting at the station for our train and the Charlton Athletic players all turned up. Apparently their team bus had broken down and they were having to take the train back to London. They ended up sitting in the same carriage as us so we enjoyed their company on the journey back to Leeds. They were in good spirits after picking up a 1-0 victory!

Are there any favorite souvenirs you’ve purchased at any of the grounds?
We tend to pick up the same type of souvenir from club shops. I get a pen and Liam gets a magnet or mascot toy. Probably our favorite souvenir was something we were given. After the match between Wycombe Wanderers and Cambridge United, Will Norris, Cambridge's goalkeeper, gave Liam his gloves. It was the last competitive game he played before moving to Wolves that summer. Outside the same ground Cambridge's Jake Carroll gave Liam his match worn boots from the game. We felt very privileged that day, despite Cambridge losing!

Liam celebrated his five-year footballing anniversary by seeing a five-goal stunner between Havant & Waterlooville and AFC Wimbledon

Is there a local team you support when you’re not traveling?
Our local team is Havant & Waterlooville who play one division below the Football League. I have a season ticket so will often take in a match when we're not elsewhere. It tends to be mostly evening games, hence why Liam does not have a season ticket as well.

Have you visited any grounds abroad? If so, how many, and which ones stood out?
Other than a few trips to Wales, we've not yet visited any grounds outside of England. The expense means a trip abroad for football is not on the agenda for the foreseeable future. I would love to visit some grounds in Italy, Germany, and Spain, but I'd happily go and watch a game anywhere in the world.

After completing the 92, what’s next for you and Liam? Would you be more focused on exploring non-league grounds?
We've already visited over 150 non-league grounds together so we'll definitely be visiting more of those. We recently sent a tweet asking if any non-league club would be willing to let Liam be a mascot for a game. I hoped we might get one or two responses but we ended up getting over 100, so we are currently working our way through those.

Away from football, Liam recently expressed an interest in visiting all of the London Underground stations. Most of our trips involve using the Underground network and he's become quite fascinated by it. I'm sure we can have a good go at doing that!

Follow Chris Priday on Twitter @CPriday and check out his photos and videos.

Liam visits his 92nd Football League ground, Moss Rose

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