The Story

The story of our quest is as follows.

Day 6 - Central and Far North(!)

Thursday 18th August 2005

The final day! The end was definitely in sight, only 17 left (admittedly not as good as the 15 originally planned). Not ones to break with tradition, we all managed to oversleep again, only leaving the hotel at 6.50am. Despite that, we made it to Manchester City for 7.05am.

 

After the City of Manchester Stadium, it was back into Yorkshire at last (for a while at least).

The Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield Town, at 8am. Morning traffic meant it took an hour to get our next stop, at Barnsley. The steep streets didn't help either!

Getting to Oakwell involves parking at the top of a big hill and walking down. No problem there, but getting back to the car was a different matter. Another hour later, we'd arrived at Millmoor, home of Rotherham.

The away end at Millmoor is something to be experienced, especially if the game is anything like the 4-4 draw between Rotherham and Norwich there in the2003/4 season. It was then on to the Steel City, calling first at Sheffield Wednesday.

To get this picture, we drove in through a delivery entrance, which takes you straight under one of the stands. Cue a bit of a panic when we tried to leave, and found the gate bolted shut. Luckily the padlock was open, so we escaped to get to Bramall Lane.

From Sheffield United we went on to Chesterfield, arriving there at 12.05pm.

No offence intended, but this has to be the worst ground of all. If the club can't afford to renovate it (or even paint it), the council should pull their fingers out and help them. We then had to go down the road to Mansfield, since we postponed it from day 4.

Field Mill, home of I\ ANS EL TOWN F.C

By 2.30pm we'd arrived at the Earth Stadium (formerly Belle Vue), home of Doncaster Rovers. We would have got here a lot earlier if we'd turned right at the racecourse instead of left, but you live and learn! Straight on to Bradford City, or so we thought. The car now had a warning light on - we took a collective decision to ignore it and carry on. We were so close to the finish now that nothing would stop us.

Arriving at Valley Parade at 3.40pm, we knew we'd have to be quick to make it to make it to Leeds United and back out before the rush hour traffic.

Elland Road was one of the highlights of the trip, due to a meeting with York City supporter Graham Hanson, who presented a cheque for our charities.

Can't wait to see what they say when we take that in to HSBC.

We left Leeds just after 4.30pm, to make the long journey up to Carlisle. Andrew quoted as saying "Who let them back in the league?". Congratulations to them, but it would have been a lot easier for us if Stevenage had been promoted instead.

It was 7.50pm and pouring with rain when we finally arrived at Carlisle, but we didn't care - only 5 left now!

It was a bit dark when we got to Newcastle United, but St James' Park is still pretty impressive. Sadly the photo won't show this!

We also met some friends there - pictured with Andrew are Steve, Ruth, Harty and Gippa.

Next it was down to Sunderland to visit the Stadium of Light, which was actually pretty dark! The last time the 3 of us were at this stadium, Norwich lost 1-0 but won the Championship.

A Darlington shirt and a Newcastle shirt at Sunderland FC, at 9.50pm. Doubt those two would be so brave at 3pm on a matchday.

Only 3 left now, needless to say we were all excited at the prospect of completing the challenge, but all nervous about the car packing up for good. If it did, we agreed to push it into the Tyne.

We arrived at Victoria Park, Hartlepool United, at 10.45pm. More North-Eastern rivalry comes to the fore!

11.25pm and we'd made it to the penultimate ground, the Riverside Stadium at Middlesbrough. The approach roads look like they're still being built and if it weren't for some very sharp braking, we'd all have been killed a lorry that pulled out straight in front of us on some dodgy roundabout. We survived to get on the road to our final ground.

On the road to Darlington, Andrew jokingly said that he'd count up our total again to make sure, despite the fact that we'd been double checking all day. This led to what was probably the worst moment of any throughout the six days (maybe on a par with the breakdown at Gillingham) - he counted up 90. And then he counted again. 90.

We hit the brakes and dived into the nearest layby, although it might have just been the hard shoulder - none of us could really think about anything else now. If we'd got this far and ballsed it up, I think someone would have been murdered.

After some more counting and re-counting by Vicki, it was discovered that we had in fact visited 91 so far, and thus Darlington would complete the 92. It appears the confusion had arisen because the first few counts were just adding up a daily total - which didn't include one of the grounds postponed from earlier.

Safe in the knowledge that it would indeed be the last stadium, we headed straight to the Williamson Motors Stadium (now the TFM Arena). It wouldn't be an exaggeration to state that nobody has ever been so happy to arrive in Darlington.

So we managed it. The time of arrival at Darlington was 11.49pm - which meant we'd completed the whole thing in 5 days and 17 hours. I think we all enjoyed the trip, although it was very tiring and very stressful at times. It was definitely worthwhile, but none of us would be doing it again in a hurry.

All that remained was to take Andrew to the train station to catch his train back to Newcastle.

Mileage for the day: 499

Total mileage for the trip: 2859