The Story

The story of our quest is as follows.

Day 5 - North Wales and North West

Wednesday 17th August 2005

An early start today, leaving the hotel before 6.30am as we were planning to visit 23 grounds today, including West Brom which we left out the day before.

 

The Hawthorns, at 6.45am. Doesn't really feel like it, but it's the highest above sea level of all the 92. Next was the trip over to Shrewsbury, from Premiership to League 2 in about 45 minutes.

There's not an awful lot saying Shrewsbury Town or Gay Meadow (surprising?) but this is the best we could manage! It's a local paper, for local people.

We later met up with a Shrewsbury fan, so they're forgiven for having no branding at the ground. Just over 75 minutes later, we were back in Wales at the Racecourse Ground, home of Wrexham.

I think this is a great ground, especially for the lower divisions. We were also able to get some shots inside.

Wrexham also brought us exactly to the 2000 mile mark, which meant we'd done 1000 miles since leaving Yeovil just over 38 hours earlier. Next on the list was Chester, where three stands of the Deva Stadium (also known as the Saunders Honda Stadium) are in Wales, with the other in England.

I think this is the stand in England! The long haul to Crewe took us over an hour, by which stage we were already anticipating another late night - the Alexandra Stadium would be only the 5th of the day and it was already 10.55am.

On the way to Port Vale, Luke found out that car cigarette lighters really are very hot - a neat circular pattern on his finger proved it. Vale Park was probably just about worth it.

Lunchtime traffic in Stoke proved a bit of a problem, as it somehow took nearly 30 minutes to get to the Britannia Stadium, home of Stoke City.

Also pictured is Paul Thomason, who came from work to represent Shrewsbury Town. He'll be carrying out the same sort of mission soon - we'll have details here. The journey to Macclesfield was, quite honestly, bloody awful. The car was obviously still misfiring and the steep hills and country roads were making it worse. Also the traffic en route was horrendous. We made it to the Moss Rose for about 1.25pm.

At least Macclesfield featured our story on their website, which makes the journey there worthwhile! Thanks to the webmaster there.

An hour later we were at Stockport County's Edgeley Park, where they were filming some kind of advert with someone hoofing the ball into the net, and about 100 fans cheering behind the goal. DIdn't have time to stop too long though, we were behind schedule and of course parked illegally.

By just after 3pm we'd made it to Boundary Park, where Oldham Athletic were playing a reserve fixture against Sheffield United. Again, no time to linger too long. Check out the picture below, then compare it to the Colchester picture on Day 1. Think they must have had an offer on that lettering in the 1970s.

Just 20 minutes drive to the next ground, Spotland - home of Rochdale.

Directly on to Bury, to visit Gigg Lane - arriving at 4pm.

We were all quite pleased now, as not only had we managed the last 3 grounds in an hour, but we'd gone past the hypothetical half-way point for the day. We also knew that in under 40 minutes we'd be in Burnley. Not normally a reason to feel happy, I know, but we were beginning to think about the possibility of reaching our hotel before 11pm. But then we remembered what happened last time we said we'd finish early, and kept our gobs shut.

After Turf Moor it was straight to Ewood Park to visit Blackburn Rovers at 5.15pm

We then got to drive out to the seaside, to visit Blackpool - Andrew was especially pleased to visit Bloomfield Road as his dad supports them, hence the Blackpool shirt you can see Andrew wearing.

Rather than climb the tower, we decided to hit the road again and we made it to Preston in under half an hour.

Deepdale is very impressive, with the National Football Museum next door.

At 8pm, and much driving around the park, we met up with Everton fan Becky Murhpy and Sheffield United fan Sean Bishop outside Goodison Park, Everton. After some time there, we drive down to Anfield.

Outside Liverpool there is, of course, the Hillsbrough memorial.

As you can see, it was getting a bit dark now so we decided we really should move on to Birkenhead to visit Tranmere Rovers.

Prenton Park is another very dark stadium! Another problem we had in Tranmere was getting out. Apparently there had been an incident at a service station on the motorway, which was then closed. Everyone going into the Liverpool, therefore, was trying to use the Mersey tunnels. Since one of them was closed, it then meant that the Wallasey tunnel had miles of queues. A quick check of the map and we made the decision to bypass it and head on up the motorway towards Manchester.

Wigan Athletic's JJB stadium looks much more impressive during the day! We managed to get lost getting to and from the JJB, but were kept entertained by a psycho on a local radio phone-in. I could explain, but it wouldn't do the nutcase justice. Once we'd made it out of Wigan, the next ground was easy to find.

The Reebok Stadium, Bolton Wanderers. One of my favourites for sure, but it's another one that best during the day - or at least when the floodlights are on! At this point, we realised that there was less than 20 grounds left, only 18 in fact, and decided to postpone Man City until the final day. So, Old Trafford was to be the last stadium of a day that took in 22 in total, and we arrived there at 11.55pm.

We got to our hotel at 12.10am, very impressed with what we'd achieved during the day. We knew that this would be the most we'd have to do in a day, and we managed it relatively quickly - quickly enough for Luke and Andrew to down a few beers before getting another 4 hours sleep.

Special mention must go to the Slovakian guy working at the hotel in Manchester, he's wasted there - he should be working for the Bratislava Tourist Board. If one exists.

Mileage for the day: 476