Posted by: musinganorak | September 15, 2010

Back On The “92” Grind

Most groundhoppers start out as supporters of a single club. They begin with going to watch their team play at home and eventually they branch out to take in away games. After a few years some people realise that they have visited quite a large number of the 92 league grounds and a few of them think it might be quite good fun to visit the rest. Of these few a number will decide that visiting a new ground each week is how they want to spend the rest of their football viewing lives and another hopper is born.

I started down this route when I was at University and I started to follow Watford, first at home and then home and away. A few years after this I discovered non-league football and from that point I was a groundhopper. I never completed the part where I finish visiting all 92 league clubs. I still haven’t visited the 92. That is to say I haven’t visited all of the current 92 nor any of the previous permutations of the 92. These days I don’t like going to league grounds. It’s expensive, in some cases very expensive, and it is just too much hassle. At a non league ground you turn up, pay your money and can then, usually, wander around the ground to your heart’s content, picking whichever vantage point you wish. At a league ground you are told where to sit. If the view isn’t very good, tough.

I’m still chipping away at the league grounds, mostly as a Crewe supporter when it’s a new ground for me, occasionally when I see a good offer on ticket prices. I have realised recently, however, that I’m now getting quite close to finishing them off and so I fear that I should really make the effort, once and for all, to get them out of the way. I doubt whether I’ll enjoy the experience though.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that today I am visiting Sincil Bank, the home of Lincoln City, for the visit of Crewe Alexandra. One more step to completion. The one advantage of being a Crewe supporter at an away ground is that there aren’t usually that many of them which means the host club is less likely to be worried about enforcing a strict seating policy. On the whole we are allocated more seats than we need and you are free to sit wherever you like within that block.

Before the game I visit a couple of pubs near to the ground. First up is the Golden Eagle which is owned by the Castle Rock brewery of Nottingham and has a good selection of their beers as well as a number of guests. I also visit the Ritz which is a converted cinema and part of the Wetherspoon’s chain. From here it is a 15 minute stroll back to the ground, dodging the showers on the way.

The ground itself is the sort of place I like, old fashioned and slightly ramshackle. It is no modern identikit stadium, instead it is an eclectic mix of stands that have been built over the years, as and when required. On the pitch it is a fairly typical Alex performance of recent seasons, start well and take the lead, make a silly mistake to concede the equaliser and then dominate the rest of the game without making the domination pay. I haven’t seen Crewe keep a clean sheet since New Year’s Day 2005 when they managed to win 2-0 at Elland Road. I’m not sure I’ll see it again for another 5 years….

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