The 92 Club

An ambition of a lot of English football supporters is to become a member of the 92 Club, the 92 Club comprising of everyone who has visited all 92 grounds currently in the league. However, it has become like painting the Forth Bridge (or at least how painting the Forth Bridge used to be before nano paint technology). In fact, maybe the expression for never finishing a task should be changed to It’s like doing the 92.

When I started counting in the eighties it seemed like an achievable target, albeit at some point in the future; but that was before every club in the land went searching for a new ground, whether they needed one or not. It’s like pouring water into a jug with a hole in the bottom, or playing that kid’s game where you whack creatures with a mallet, only for them to pop up again a short time later. No fewer than 27 current league clubs have had new grounds in the past two decades, that’s about 30% of the league. I’d visited 20 of these club’s old grounds on the way to my target, only for the club to pop back up again, as a miss, on my 92 chart.

I got to the 70 mark about ten years ago and have made hardly any progression since, despite my best efforts at getting to three or four new grounds each year. I have seen Brighton at just on 100 grounds (give or take a couple), and have visited about 110 grounds used in the league at some point, but only have a meagre 92 tally of 76. Shortly that will be 75, thanks to Colchester moving, and then maybe 74 depending on how you view the Bristol Rovers situation.

I actually went to The Memorial Ground for the first time a few weeks back, to see the last ever match there. The tick on my list was in doubt though, come the final whistle, as the Memorial Ground will be bulldozed, only to be rebuilt with less character over the next season or two. 92 Purists would have me visit it again, especially with the pitch turning by 90º, but I’m counting it. In the meantime, if they’re sharing with Cheltenham, then surely it changes to the 91 club? It can get very messy!

Until Scunthorpe had Glanford Park built in 1988 to replace their Old Show Ground, there hadn’t been a new league ground since Vale Park in 1950. Clubs stayed where they were. Nobody even considered the possibility of a new ground. Where you played was where you played, crumbling terrace or no. When Scunthorpe first announced their plans for a new stadium, most people suspected witchcraft. The old traditional grounds were built in the days of true craftsmen and architects. Usually to be found near the train station, in very built up residential areas, where ordinary folk could walk to the game after their Saturday morning shift.

Nowadays, it seems clubs are queueing up to see their homely charming grounds razed to the ground to be replaced by models made to cheap specifications, erected in out of town business parks. It’s a sad reflection of the times. Art, craft and passion don’t come in to it when there’s budgets and cost-effectiveness to think about. If architectural flourishes don’t produce tangible income, they’re not considered nowadays. Functionality is all the rage now, and it shows in all the new builds that look as alike as so many travel taverns.

There’s not only new grounds to contend with either; there’s the two down, two up, from League two and the Conference, which often results in me instantly losing another two due to my poor non-league records. These have improved in recent years, however, largely due to the proliferation of old great league clubs that loiter about in the conference. Actually, I got lucky at the end of this season. When Torquay surprisingly lost 4-1 at home to Exeter the other night, it meant I wasn’t to lose any 92 grounds that way for next season, as I’d already done Aldershot, Burton, Exeter and Cambridge United.

So as far as I know I will only be losing one for next season – Colchester Utd. So will every completed 92 club member in the world. Between May and August there will not be one bona fide 92 club member, as has been the case in these months for the past umpteen years, and looks likely to continue for the forseable future. I will continue to try to get to the hallowed 92 mark, but like Sisyphus’s task, I fear it may be in vain.

When I get to 77 what I really want to do is be able to ‘send off’ for the last 15 grounds, like you could the remaining stickers in the Panini football albums. I’ll see what the 92 Club say about that!

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About thegroundhog

I live underground, occasionally popping up at non-league and Welsh grounds. I live on a diet of insects, small rodents, nil-nils and post and pre-match angst.
This entry was posted in General Football, Groundhopping, Stadia, Grounds and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The 92 Club

  1. Pingback: Daily Dose: 5.10.08 | The Offside

  2. Tom says:

    When you complete the 92, you’ll have to take on the CAMRA inventory of historic pub interiors – redoing every ground, but with all worthy alehouses within a designated radius… I often think more people follow Darlo for the ales than for the football, but on reflection I guess that goes without saying…

  3. Cambridge Dustman says:

    Well Tom – you Darlo guys certainly have a head start on many with DARTS. Those pubs in the town centre, Coffee House, Tappas Bar and Number 22 are quite superb.

    Is the Harbo Darlo still going?

    CD

  4. Ginge says:

    I have some bad news for you I’m afraid. The 92 Club rules state that you have to do the club during its current spell at that ground and during its current spell in the league. Something that has hit me nearly as hard as the new grounds!
    So for official membership I have to go back to the same ground that I saw the following teams at: Hereford (they have been relegated and promoted since I went to Edgar Street), and Fulham (they had six months at Loftus Road since my last visit). Add to that the new grounds of Chester City, Darlington and Man City (only ever seen an England friendly at their new stadium so I can’t count that either). So rather than just having two Carlisle and Exeter to do, the 92 Club claim that I have seven to go. They claim the rules are there to ensure that members complete it in the same spirit as the original 92 Club members. However, the original spirit did not involve chasing back to grounds that you’ve already been to simply because the club has been relegated and then promoted. I think it’s probably an excuse to make the club as exclusive as possible so any silly rule that will exclude new members is jumped upon.
    Know exactly how you feel about chasing that moving target though… I’ve already done Colchester and Rotherham’s new grounds this season as well as Aldershot but I’m no closer to the 92 Club than I was at the end of April. If only I’d done it in the 1970s as I’d have finished long ago! :o)

  5. Oldham Boy says:

    Boll**ks, I thougt I would get my last seven in soon . But by the rules I need to go to 25 with the new grounds and the relegated rules.
    All these matches were involving Oldham so I dont think I will get too many more in the premier league in my lifetime.So Spurs away in the cup and dagenham to get relegated. You’ve got to be optimistic.
    No hatemail from all you daggers please

  6. Chaz says:

    New to all this- so does it count if you get a tour or somthing- but not actually seeing a match?

  7. thegroundhog says:

    I wouldn’t include it if I hadn’t seen a match there, no. But then again the ‘official’ 92 club would say that I hadn’t done Aldershot because since I went they became non-league and then league again! Which is absolutely ridiculous. So it is up to you what you consider to be a tick.

  8. Matt Downey says:

    Does the 92 club have a website? cheers matt d

  9. thegroundhog says:

    I think http://www.ninetytwoclub.org.uk is the closest to an official site. It has their rules etc.
    Thanks for dropping by.

  10. wanderer63 says:

    Gentlemen, I believe the 92 Club is being a bit fussy when they insist a club that has moved for two years must be revisited.
    I qualified in May 1987 and numerous clubs have moved grounds since then, most of which i have not revisited.
    But I can promise you i have no intention of revisiting any of them, unless it be by happenstance like when I went to the Memorial Ground Bristol for a Cup tie earlier this year.

    In the case of, say, Walsall – I went to Fellows Park on April 26th 1986, and as far as I’m concerned that’s it. Done. Seen. Visited. Finished with. I’m not going to the new ground unless my team is playing there and I happen to want to go.

    If the 92 Club is insisting on such silly re-visiting rules they can get stuffed.

    Kind regards.

    • Dave says:

      I agree with the majority of what you have said as i qualified back around 1981 (i think my membership number is 74) many of the grounds i visited no longer exist such as Chester’s, Sunderlands and Newport to name a few. Back in the 70,s you could get 2 for 1 train tickets, turn up for games with no tickets, and that includes Man Utd and Liverpool, what chance now. So glad i finished them all as i had a great time, so good that when i finished i started on the Scottish teams and managed over 20 before the wedding bells started and i had to settle down and stop spending the weekends on trains.
      Regards

  11. chrisolley says:

    Please check this out, I recently travelled the country on a 250cc bike and photographed all of the current 92 and have an exhibition on at Derby Museum of all 92 photographs.

    There is an article on me here at the BBC website:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/derby/hi/people_and_places/arts_and_culture/newsid_9149000/9149426.stm

    and you can see a slideshow of all 92 pictures here, it takes about 3 minutes!

    http://chrisolley.photoshelter.com/

    Hope you like them! – CHRIS OLLEY

  12. Peter says:

    If you’re looking for somewhere to keep track head to http://www.the92.net

    You can rate and review the grounds as you go to create you’re 92. They do have rules, but they’re only guidelines – at the end of the day it’s your 92 so you make the rules 🙂

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