In February Ed Wood completed a remarkable journey to reclaim a World Record he lost 22 years previously. The Derby fan travelled the length and breadth of country doing the 92 league grounds (+ Berwick Rangers) in just 189 days! We caught up with Ed to find out just how he did it, the stories from his travels and the big question…would he do it again…
Groundsman: Firstly, congratulations on completing your journey and setting a new Guinness World Record! How did you feel at end of it: elated, proud, exhausted or just relieved?
Ed: Cheers! I felt exhausted on the day, I was in bed asleep by 9pm, shattered.
- Proud to have completed what I started and set out to do and that I’d raised money for Prostate Cancer
- Elated that I got a good reception on the day with 30 or so people joining me &
- Relieved that it’d come to an end.
GM: What was your final ground and how did you commemorate the occasion?
Ed: Last game was at Rochdale, Spotland on 18 February; a proper ground. It was ideal in a number of ways too:
- Less than an hour from where I live, so a lot of my friends & family (inc girlfriend) could turn up
- Team doing well & a good game too (final score 3-3)
- No problem getting tickets
- Good support from the club too
All in all a fitting final match to finish on. Really pleased Mark from the Guinness Book of Records turned up and witnessed it too. He presented me with the certificate pre-match then officially handed it over after the game too.
GM: You were fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK along the way, do you have a final total of what you raised?
Ed: Over 15k, really chuffed.
GM: What was the first ground you ticked off your list?
The first one I did was Boundary Park for Oldham v Walsall (0-0) on 13 August.
But I redid Oldham in January for a rearranged game vs Peterborough. This meant my original second one became my first one; Bristol Rovers v Oxford (2-1) on 14 August, saving me a day
GM: What were your secrets behind taking almost 50 days off the previous record?
Ed: No secrets really. Mostly, it’s all about televised games; the same number of games are played on more individual match days so the opportunity was always there. Also good planning, a supportive girlfriend, my dedication & having a good network of contacts for tickets.
GM: What were the most grounds you managed to tick off in a week?
Ed: I did 10 in 10 days once which included 4 in the first 48 hours.
- Fri 23 Sept – Preston v Wigan
- Sat 24 Sept – Mansfield v Grimsby (noon kick off)
- Sat 24 Sept – Notts County v Orient (3pm kick off)
- Sun 25 Sept – West Ham v Southampton
- Mon 26 Sept – Burnley v Watford (cycled 40miles to Turf Moor too)
- Tue 27 Sept – Wycombe v Crewe
- Wed 28 Sept – Coventry v Wimbledon
- Fri 30 Sept – Everton v Palace
- Sat 1 Oct – Carlisle v Colchester
- Sun 2 Oct – Leicester v Southampton
GM: What 3 pieces of advice would you give to someone attempting to break the record?
- Plan plan plan!
- Reach out for help as much as possible
- Don’t compromise on anything – stay focused.
GM: Some quick-fire questions, in less than 25 words what was:
GM: Your favourite ground?
Ed: White Hart Lane for Spurs vs Chelsea was fantastic, crowd, seats and back story with a ticket from @AngoranBob on Twitter.
GM: Your least favourite ground?
Ed: The day out at Crawley was long and uneventful; no goals, no banter & drove 500 miles – very draining.
GM: The best atmosphere?
Ed: Derby v Forest, being a Derby fan nothing compared to that.
GM: The best pies/food?
Ed: Best I remember was a pie at Chesterfield, I did have two at one ground but can’t remember where it was!
GM: The best pint?
Ed: Shrewsbury, a great evening with Tom Holt
GM: The weirdest thing that happened?
Ed: I’ll have to use a few more than 25 words here! 3 run ins with the police; getting stopped outside my house on the way back from Sunderland, accused of being a terrorist at Walsall and I got “invited” into the security Portakabin at Hartlepool.
GM: What are the lasting memories of your travels?
- Everyone being so supportive and not being slagged off by any one
- Long drives home at night with Motorways shutting down
- Some great experiences; TV, Radio, Newspapers, going onto and speaking on the pitch, hospitality + kindness (Mansion Group)
- New grounds including Newport, Yeovil, Southampton, Morecambe & Fleetwood
- Meeting new people and catching up with people I’d not seen in ages
- Jelly babies and Coffee
- Getting presented with the certificate nearly made me cry, fingers crossed I make the book!
- Really enjoying the football
GM: Various people suggested challenges for you to do along the way, of the ones you managed which stand out?
Ed: I think I did 65 out of 93, so out of them:
- Wycombe were great – presenting me with a massive trophy
- Hitch hiking to Plymouth from Bristol was good fun
- Day out in Berwick was awesome (going to a match on train)
- Meeting the original record holders in Shrewsbury was humbling, Bob Wilson and Mike Jones
- Wearing the mascot outfit at Newport was weird
- Seeing myself in National newspapers and being on BBC & CNN was a funny feeling. I still haven’t watched any on the TV back.
GM: What other challenges within the challenge did you set yourself?
Ed: Not have any driving incidents was massive … last time I crashed 6 times! This time I started on 6 driving points and got no more, no parking fines and no crashes
I didn’t have a bet at all … I’ve realised it’s not something I need in my life. Quite a contrast as I used to gamble a lot. I was actually a Racecourse Bookmaker in a previous life, Edwood Racing! It must be tough to listen and see all the betting adverts that go with following football if you’ve got a gambling problem.
Keeping my girlfriend happy cannot be underestimated. I’ve been away a lot and the impact must have been tough. She tried her hardest to convince me not to do it before I started but once I was up and running she switched.
GM: Now you’ve got your record back, what’s next on the ground hopping front?
Ed: Subject to approval from my girlfriend…
- Chalking a few Scottish off (I’ve done 12 now)
- A few Derby matches for certain
- I’ve got a share in a (very cheap) season ticket at Huddersfield Town
- Forest Green & Lincoln… done Wembley a few times, do I need to see Spurs there?
Happy to hear any other suggestions
GM: If, and it’s a big IF, the record is broken can you see yourself attempting it a third time?
Ed: Yes, for certain… irrespective of whether it has been beaten…
In season 2041/42 I’ll do it again, health/wealth permitting and if there is still the same structure, keeping the 25-year cycle going:
- 1991/92: Original when I was 25 years old
- 2016/17: Just done this when I was 50
I would love someone to have a go at beating it in the interim though, a few have said they might try. Be warned, the bar is low!
Thanks to Ed for taking the time to reflect on his journey with us. You can keep up with Ed and his future groundhopping exploits on Twitter @EdWoodChallenge.