We did it!

And with time to spare!

87 hours, 49 minutes and 14 seconds after we left Southend United, we arrived at Colchester United’s Weston Homes Community Stadium and finally completed our challenge.

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We pulled in to the stadium car park and scenes of pure jubilation unfolded! It had been a very long and exhausting journey with minimal sleep, so the euphoria upon finally finishing was incredible. The emotions almost got the better of some of the taller, more vinegar bottle shaped members of the team, but we all took a moment to reflect on what had been an amazing journey and a challenge that had raised far more for Little Havens Hospice than we could have ever imagined. Our jubilant excitement was evident in the photos as we jumped around the car park like overexcited children at Christmas! We were way ahead of schedule so weren’t sure if we would be granted pitch side access for a photo due to the early time of day, but we wandered hopefully over to the reception. The gentleman on duty (presumably the stadium manager) had sat watching us dance around the car park like maniacs for the last 10 minutes so was a little confused as to what on earth we were doing! But after a quick explanation we were kindly escorted through to the changing rooms then down the tunnel to the side of the pitch. It was a great end to our journey and a fantastic way to sign off on the challenge, so big thanks to Colchester United for allowing us access.

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As it stands, £5,151.84 has been donated on the just giving page so far, and with over £400 still expected to come in the final figure is likely to be in excess of £5, 700. An absolutely incredible amount raised, surpassing anything we ever thought possible, and all going to a truly fantastic cause in Little Havens Hospice. Thank you all so much for your overwhelming generosity, every donation goes a long way to making every day count for the children and families using Little Havens Hospice’s care and support. And for anyone reading this blog who has been thinking of donating but hasn’t quite got round to it yet, it’s not too late! Please visit www.justgiving.com/the92in92challenge to donate, anything you can spare will be greatly appreciated.

Overall it had been a gruelling but thoroughly enjoyable 88 hours and an extraordinary experience that will live long in our memories. The unique experiences of being granted pitch side and changing room access at numerous grounds was an absolute privilege, with fascinating grounds such as Anfield, Stadium of Light, Molineux, Crown Ground and Globe Arena to name but a few. We also met some fantastic people along the way (Port Vale manager Micky Adams in particular), so thank you to all the clubs and staff that granted us access inside the stadium and for being so welcoming and accommodating.

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If you’ve been following this blog you will no doubt be aware that there were times when things seemed to go from the bizarre to the ridiculous, so much so that we thought that people would never believe us when we relayed the stories! From being caught slap bang in the middle a mass brawl between rival fans, to almost driving straight in to what appeared to be a drug deal! Not forgetting the police lockdowns at Cardiff and Newport, not having the memory card in the camera the one time we met a manager, or us becoming a courier service for Luton Town’s kit! There were so many ridiculous and hilarious moments that it is impossible to recount them all.

Spending the best part of 4 days stuck in a confined space with 4 other people would usually be quite a strain on any friendship, but we had such a laugh on the road that it was an absolute pleasure to complete this challenge with such a great group of mates. There were a lot of ‘you had to be there’ moments along the way but it’s fair to say classics such as “Flaptin Jack Sparrow”, “Steven Seagull” and “it was just banter” will be raising a laugh between us for months to come!! Not to mention if someone’s van’s off the road…

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But there were also some moments when the lack of sleep and sheer exhaustion threatened to get the better of us, particularly in the last 24 hours when traffic seemed to be continually against us, and we genuinely began to fear that we may be unable to complete the challenge on time. But a combination of quality banter and the unwavering support and encouragement of our family and friends pulled us through and we always managed to raise a smile, even in the most desperate of times. We have said it a number of times, but the incredible support and encouragement we have received from friends and family throughout this challenge has been truly inspirational and somewhat overwhelming. It really did make an immeasurable difference to know so many people were following us every step of the way through Facebook, Twitter and this blog. We honestly can’t thank you enough.
And thank you to everyone who made the effort to come out and see us along the way; Margaret and Martin, Northern Si, Pman and Dave. It was great to see you all and thanks for the much needed food and drink supplies!

We would also like to again say a big thank you to all our sponsors for making this challenge a possibility.
• Thank you to RSL for their excellent contribution towards petrol costs and for their generous donation on the Just Giving page.
• Thank you to JMW for their great contribution towards accommodation costs.
• And thank you to Club Woodham for all their generosity and help with the charity night and for providing some much needed supplies for The 92 in 92 challenge!

We really appreciate all your help and support and couldn’t have done it without you.
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A huge thank you also to the staff at Little Havens Hospice (Peter and Derek in particular) for all their help and support throughout this challenge. A phone call from Peter at Little Havens when we were just getting to the half way mark was perfectly timed and provided a great boost to spur us on for the second half of the challenge.

Over the next week or so we will be posting up our individual accounts of our amazing (and not so amazing) experiences whilst doing The 92 in 92 Challenge, plus we’ll be updating the Gallery with photos from every ground, so please keep an eye out on here, Facebook and twitter for when they are posted up.

Finally, we would again like to express our enormous gratitude to everyone who has made this challenge possible and helped to raise such a brilliant amount for Little Havens Hospice; we really couldn’t have done it without you all.

So there you have it, all 92 clubs visited. For the rest of the season we can now, much to annoyance of anyone around us, smugly sit and watch any game in the football league and say “I’ve been there!” We’re pretty sure everyone will get fed up with it very quickly, but we’ll persevere anyway!

Much love and appreciation,

The 92 in 92 Lads

Mike, Matt, Nick, Tony and Andrew

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