Groundhopping: a hobby that involves attending matches at as many different stadiums or grounds as possible. Participants are known as Groundhoppers.
In my early days of watching football back in the 1970s, I wasn’t aware that Groundhopping was a ‘thing’ so I’m grateful to the www.nonleaguematters.co.uk site forum for the following which is partially reproduced below and helps to provide some background to its origins.
“So how did this slightly eccentric hobby develop and grow? Back in the 1950s and earlier there is no evidence that Groundhopping existed. Football fans tended to be loyal to one club or one city. In Edinburgh, for example, many people would watch both Hearts and Hibs at home at a time when both produced sparkling football and enjoyed success. Travelling support for away games tended to be small in number.
From the 1960s onwards, as car ownership became more widespread, more fans were likely to travel to away games. The developing motorway system meant that travel, either by car or supporters bus, was quicker and easier. Without realising it many football fans began to pick up ‘ticks’.
By the 1970s a few real enthusiasts were emerging who were the proto-hoppers, travelling far and wide both within and beyond the UK to visit new grounds. In 1964 a letter appeared in the ‘Football League Review’ magazine, from a Bristol City fan, suggesting that a special tie be produced for those who had seen football on all 92 Football League grounds.
This idea coalesced into the formation of the 92 Club in 1978. At that time the membership of the Football League was fairly stable. Clubs only dropped out through the re-election process so, having “done the 92” it was straightforward to keep it up to date.”
This has continued to develop down the years with websites, apps and publications all dedicated to Groundhopping, with certain leagues now creating special weekends of games so that Groundhoppers can attend, such as that for the North West Counties Football League in March 2022 https://nwcfl.com/news-articles.php?id=8579
Companies too have got in on the act, with https://footballweekends.co.uk/ offering football breaks alongside their highly successful magazine. Tarts, Trams and Tuk Tuks by Steven Penny centres on one of Football Weekends trips that took place in February 2022 in and around the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, with Penny and his son, attending five games in their four-night break.
This consisted of two Primeira Liga (Portugal’s Premier League) fixtures, Belenenses v Paco Ferreira and Benfica v Vitoria Guimaraes, two Liga 3 (Portugal’s third level – i.e. League One in England) games, Alverca v Torreense and Amora v Caldas as well as a Liga Revelacao U23 (an U23 league competition) Play-off fixture between Estoril and Leixoes.
Penny takes readers through the break in diary form on a day-to-day basis, with the events of each day detailed, whether this be attending games or taking in some sightseeing. Despite its small number of pages, this is a useful read for those yet to embark on a trip watching the game abroad at whatever level and who maybe considering a football weekend away. In addition to Penny’s descriptions and brief (and interesting history) about the clubs he visited, it well served by various photographs from the trip and additionally there is a useful Appendix which provides information for those looking to visit the Lisbon area. A more than useful guide which offers a personal viewpoint in addition to information available on-line.
(Publisher: Penny for your Sports Publications. July 2022. Paperback: 58 pages)