FAN'S EYE VIEW: No 222 Groundhopping - Sport - The Independent

FAN'S EYE VIEW: No 222 Groundhopping

There was an unprecedented case of "Groundhopper Stops Play" on the opening day of the season. An ardent hopper known as "Tram" (because he works as a tram driver in Blackpool) travelled 250 miles to watch a Winstonlead Kent League match at Greenwich Borough FC. Tram specialises in touching both crossbars at every new ground he visits.

However, at Greenwich Borough, he found he could not reach the woodwork. Tram subsequently complained to the match referee, alleging that the crossbars were 10 feet off the ground!

Out came the tape measures and it became apparent that the wrong dimensions were in place. The kick-off was delayed by seven minutes while the crossbars were pulled down and repositioned.

Tram is just one of the growing army of groundhoppers that trawl the country for their footballing fare. Objectives are simple. To watch matches at as many different grounds as possible.

Many hoppers collect club badges, programmes, scarves, replica shirts and any other paraphernalia they can lay their hands upon at games. The clubs benefit from this income, plus the increased use of bar and refreshment facilities.

Like Mr Tram, most hoppers have self-enforced guidelines for visiting new grounds. For example, some don't count a visit to a ground if they have seen a goalless draw there. Rumour has it that one intrepid gentleman has been back to Stenhousemuir three times and still hasn't seen a goal!

Then there is the hopper who has to walk around the four sides of the pitch, inside and outside the ground. Some take photos of the grandstands, others sketch the ground and Mr "Mega-Statto" takes 20 pages of notes at every game.

Pete Llewellyn and Dave Jolly combine their groundhopping hobby with a passion for botany, seeking rare alpine flora on their trips to new grounds. And Barry Perthen took flying lessons so that he could photograph non-League grounds from the sky.

But it seems that the groundhopper who puts himself under the most pressure is the Hertfordshire-based Dave Roxborough. He makes it his business to touch the match ball at every ground he visits.

Dave usually stands near the corner flag, hoping to throw the ball back when it goes out for a corner. "When I arrive at a new ground, I walk around trying to work out where the ball will be easiest to retrieve by me," he says. No wonder the other assembled groundhoppers burst into spontaneous applause every time Dave gets his first touch of the ball.

The groundhoppers have a convention every Easter. This year, 400 hoppers achieved a world record by watching seven Devon League matches in 33 hours and 30 minutes over Good Friday and Easter Saturday.

It started at Alphington FC at 11am on the Friday and finished at 6.30pm the following evening at Willand Rovers. A convoy of cars and coaches ferried the hoppers between each match in football's version of Wacky Races. The former Football Association chairman, Sir Bert Millichip, was on hand to present certificates to the exhausted hoppers after the final game.

A similar event is planned in Devon for next Easter. The groundhoppers cannot wait. Once again it promises to be a unique social gathering of like-minded people building up friendships and having a good time. Their appetite for new grounds is insatiable.

The first match is at Topsham Town on Good Friday morning. See you there!

Tony Incenzo is the editor of the groundhopping magazine Pyramid Football. For a sample copy, send pounds 2.20 to Pyramid, PO Box 107, Chells Manor, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG2 ORH.

Suggested Topics
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Top conservatoire offers ‘groundbreaking’ arts degree

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week