the92.net cofounder and blogger Pete shares 6 tips for helping you to tick grounds off your 92 league grounds checklist.
1. Keep an eye on the early rounds of the Cup competitions
The domestic cup competitions are a great way to tick grounds off your 92, especially the early ties. The first couple of rounds of games in the EFL Cup and EFL Trophy (JPT, Checkatrade or whatever it’s called!?) are midweek in the first few months of the season and the majority of clubs slash ticket prices for these. As a fan this can often to throw up the opportunity to get to grounds of clubs in other leagues that are usually out of reach doing the 92. For example this season I managed to tick Goodison Park off my 92 following Yeovil Town in the 2nd round of the EFL Cup for the bargain price of just £15. In comparison looking at going to Goodison Park for the upcoming home fixture against Swansea in the Premier League adult prices start from £35. Also look out for the first 3 rounds of the FA Cup as well as group games in the Champions League plus Europa League. Even as a neutral though there are plenty of fixtures in the early rounds to allow you to take advantage of some much cheaper ticket prices.
2. Look out for promotions
Leading on from the early rounds of the Cups keep an eye out for promotions. If you have a family then most clubs offer ‘kids for a quid’ for a couple of games over the course of a season. Sometimes these tie in with Cup games, but also school holidays and/or international breaks are a prime time for these kind of deals. As blogger Michael Pilcher found out when he took advantage of Peterborough offering free tickets to under 10s in the Family Stand for their televised game against Swindon at London Road (the Abax Stadium) this season.
3. Enter competitions
If you’re feeling lucky competitions from clubs or brands are great way to get tickets for free. Last season I ticked Ewood Park off my 92 winning tickets through McCoy’s Football League ticket giveaway. I think I bought 6 bags before I won and they were on offer at 2 for a £1 at the local Co-op, so the pair of adult tickets in effect came to £3! This season EFL partners Ginsters are running a promotion called ‘Tickets and Tenners’. Enter a code from a promotional pack and you’re drawn 4 EFL teams. If in the following weekend’s action your teams combined score 10 goals or more you’ll win either match tickets for your designated team or a tenner. That’s got to be worth a few pasties!
4. Look for 2-in-1s – over a weekend or in a day
Especially when you reach the latter stages doing the 92 the grounds left on your list are often the ones furthest away. My 92 is no exception to this rule. Despite being based in the East Midlands there are clusters of stadiums in the North and South East in particular where it would be far more cost and time effective to make a weekend of it. With games played pretty much everyday of the week and more new kick off times each season there are many opportunities to take advantage of. Last season I took in Burnley v Reading at Turf Moor on the Saturday then continued North, stopping overnight near Thirsk before continuing on to the Riverside for Middlesborough v Leeds on the Sunday. If you’re particularly on it you can do 2 grounds in a day! That’s exactly what groundhopper and Guinness World Record chaser Ed Wood did this season starting off with an early kick off at Mansfield before jumping on the back of a motorcycle for a lift to Notts County for 3 o’clock.
5. Go on away days with your mates teams
I’d go as far to say it is near enough impossible to do the full 92 following the same team. With promotions and relegations you’d have to be extremely lucky with Cup draws to get the full set even if you support a club that has gone through the leagues going up like Fulham or going down the leagues like Portsmouth (had to get in a cheap dig as a Saints fan!). I believe reporter and serial groundhopper Tony Incenzo is in the 80s with QPR and if he can’t do it i’d say no one can! With that in mind aside from taking in games as neutral tagging along with friends is a great way to get to new grounds plus you get to experience match days home/away with different sets of fans. I’ve managed a few over the years, favourites include ticking off Old Trafford for a Champions League game with Manchester United fan and the92.net cofounder Michael Moss and experiencing a Forest away day at the Macron Stadium.
6. Plan your holidays strategically
This tip is probably the most extreme of the 6 and depending on your family situation may include the buy in of your significant other! Over the course of the years my wife has grown to accept my quest for the holy grail of the 92 club and is now proactively suggesting trips where I can take in a ground or 2. Last weekend for example we had a couple of nights in Cardiff taking in a Friday night game at the Cardiff City Stadium (win for me) and the Doctor Who experience (win for her). On the way back we went via Cheltenham where there was a 3pm kick off at Whaddon Rood (win for me) and some nice shops (win for her). The result; a mini-break with all parties happy (tweets from the trip below).
So when you’re planning your next getaway in the UK start by getting your the92.net map up, set it to grounds not ticked off (to give an example here’s mine) and see where is it takes you… a weekend at the seaside in Blackpool could be just the ticket!
Hopefully the above has given you some food for thought for your future exploits doing the 92 league grounds. Quite a few of the points can overlap too. For example for the first round of the FA Cup i’m eying up a 2-in-1 weekend plus clubs are slashing prices, win win win! Always keep an eye out for promotions and competitions and do feel free to share with us on Twitter (@the92dotnet). Happy ground hopping!
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