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.

IMG_8730

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.

IMG_8767

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.

imageIMG_8011IMG_7852IMG_8232

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…

photo

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.
IMG_8532

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

IMG_7838IMG_8779

Good afternoon!

Bristol to Exeter was a smooth journey that passed by without much incident and we were pleased to begin clawing back some of the time we lost overnight.

image

As the rest of the country began to wake, numerous messages from friends and family lifted our spirits immensely and we were invigorated with new found determination and optimism. Thank again for such amazing support, it’s made an immeasurable impact on our challenge. We honestly can’t thank you enough.

Unfortunately, the gods of traffic congestion seem determined to break our spirits! But our spirits shall not be broken!! Ridiculously busy roads from Exeter to Plymouth to Yeovil to Bournemouth have prevented us from making good time and we currently run a few hours behind schedule. But we march on to Southampton knowing time is still on our side and with confidence that we will still complete the a Challenge inside the 92 hours target. An excellent car seat rotation system is in place and we’ve all managed to get our heads down for some much needed sleep en route.

imageimage

So, spirits remain high and venture on across the south coast.

The donations continue to come in so again huge thanks to everyone who has donated so far. And anyone who hasn’t donated… why not!?! Haha! Seriously though, it’s all going to a fantastic cause and any donation you can spare will go a long long way.

More updates to follow as and when we can but a lot of non driving / navigating time is being used to kip so apologies for any slow updates!

See you soon!

Flood, Sweat & Tears- from Reading to Newport via Hell

Morning!

I was hoping to keep things brief this morning and just let you know we had made our time up and were heading back towards Essex. This is not the case. Not one bit!

image

We left Wycombe Wanderers and made it over to Reading with no problem. It was there things started to go rapidly downhill! We got to Oxford easily enough, but the stadium was pitch black and we struggled to get a decent photo. This however turned out to be the least of our problems as we set off for Swindon as Scuzz managed to get a good pic of the Kassam Stadium. As we headed west we were making good time and getting back on track. Then our night from hell started…

We made our way to the main road between Oxford and Swindon, only to find it was closed for roadworks! We got sent on the most ridiculous diversion of all time, which ended with me driving through country lanes with my full beams on for 12 miles!! After adding nearly 45 minutes to our journey we finally reached The County Ground. However as we pulled up we quickly noticed a few cars in the car park with their windows down passing things between themselves. We had only walked straight into what appeared to be a drug deal!!! After panicking more than our brush with the hooligans at Bradford, we sped off round the corner and found a tiny section of the ground where we hid from the dealers! After trying to avoid drawing attention to the flash on the camera we sped off out of Swindon still not quite believing our luck. If we never go to Swindon again we would be bloody delighted.

image

So on we pushed and again I dealt with more country roads as we headed deep into the Cotswolds and got a photo at Cheltenham. We knew we had to smash it to Swansea as we needed to make the time up…we decided it would be a good idea at 3am to get some Deckfast (a cross between dinner and breakfast. A bit like brunch but a stupid version).

image

After some dozing in the car (not by Smithy and Tony who were driver and navigator) we headed into South Wales, only for a biblical rain storm that certainly made smiths life a nightmare. With the help of his noble steed Tony the Baker they smashed the storm and got us to Swansea. We then drove to Cardiff in more rain but in good time…until we got their, when our weird night got even stranger.

image

Turns out the police were waiting for us there. Well not for us, but they had shut down Cardiff City Stadium! God knows what had happened, maybe Tony’s past had caught up with him! Anyway we managed to bargain a photo out of the security guard and darted to Newport.

As we pulled into Newport (a town on a grimness level with Luton, Bradford and Burnley) we were relieved to put a long painful night behind us. But the travel gods were not done with us yet, and as Betsy pulled up to the gates we were stopped by more squads of police! Know idea what has happened to Welsh football but fair to say we were glad to sweet talk the copper into a quick pic and get the hell out of our neighbouring country!

We crossed the Severn and got to Bristol with no problems, so maybe things are looking up. We’re still amazingly in great spirits, Tony is still smashing his usual one liners, Smithy is still being rattled by things (chicken nuggets being sold in odd numbers by McDonalds), Scuzz is still doing his best David Bailey impression at each ground, Betsy is still entertaining us with his thoughts on the state of some places and I’m just happy to still be awake. Roll on Exeter…

image

Thanks to you all for reading and for your incredible unwavering support, it’s fair to say the love you have shown us on this blog, our Facebook page and twitter has kept us going through a trying 24 hours!! We are grateful and we are proud to be doing this on behalf of the fantastic Little Havens. Please continue to donate and help us get this target up to a level we could never have expected.

See you all tomorrow,

Mike

The banter continued to fly as we journeyed on to Northampton. A quick stop off at Sixfields Stadium for some photos that may raise some serious questions about our masculinity, and we were off to MK Dons.

image

We’ve seen some great stadiums, some average stadiums and some pretty damn poor stadiums, but Stadium MK is probably the most disappointing so far. There was almost nothing to signify that it was actually MK Dons stadium. So much so that we spent some time debating if it was a football ground or a hotel! After closer inspection it appears to be both. But it ultimately seemed a soulless stadium lacking any identity and we were swiftly on our way in search some grounds that might have a bit more character.

Smithy successfully negotiated some difficult driving conditions through some rather questionable areas and we rocked up at Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road. And it certainly had character!! Unfortunately at this point we were around 2/3 hours behind schedule so reception wasn’t open as we’d hoped, so we left the bin bag full of Luton’s kit outside with a little note from the 92 in 92 lads! Fingers crossed it’s there in the morning!! It’s fair to say the used, damp kit smelt worse than anything Tony or Mike have released on this journey, so we were very happy to see the back of it!!!

image

Stevenage was next and it was great to get a retweet of the photo from Stevenage player Charlie Lee. Thanks Charlie!! Top man!

Next stop was Watford and we were all having it large to Elton John’s Crocodile Rock as we pulled in to the stadium!! The below photo was in homage it big Elton himself!!
Many people have told us we each look like an absolute pianist, at least that’s what it sounded like…

image

The journey to Wycombe passed without much incident, a quick photo outside the gates (sadly we couldn’t get that close to the stadium) and we’re on our way to Reading.

61 stadiums down, just 31 to go! We’re getting near the business end!!

Thank you again for all your support and for following our journey so intently. It’s a great inspiration to know our friends and family are right behind us and enjoying the updates! We’re looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible on Saturday at Club Woodham (from about 12:30pm) so we can thank you all in person. Be there!

And let’s not forget what this is all for, let’s try and raise as much as we can for Little Havens Hospice. Spread the word and encourage everyone to donate to this superb charity.

It’s just passed midnight, so good night one and all! Sleep tight!

Good evening everybody ……..

We have just visited our 55 club and spirits are as high as ever !

We are 52 hours in now !

After leaving Wolverhampton Wanderer’s we headed to Walsall with Betsy at the wheel , we arrive at the ground with relative ease , we entered the reception , the bloke took us through the ground to the pitch to have a picture ! It was a cracking little ground , staff were top notch ……….

image

The hours and grounds are flying by , due to top banter and laughs , At one point laughter bought us to tears but looking back it was more like the stench in the car !

Moving on …..

At West Brom we parked outside the gate’s and posed (boy band esq) for a picture around our car ………..it brought back the glory days of Liberty ship !

image

Thanks to some Stella driving from Besty we are zipping though the Midlands nicely, however We do have time to observe that there are some strange life forms around here !

Reaching Villa , Which for the record is a quality ground , We decide to start mixing up our poses , So we tried to recreate the reservoir dogs pose ….. But as u will soon see from the picture we just looked like 5 very lost men …….Epic fail !

image

Mike kept up his record of not spotting a ground when he thought he saw Birmingham’s ground , it was In fact a boots shop !!

When we did locate Birmingham’s stadium , We Didn’t want to stick around Birmingham much longer so we took the picture and left !

We get to Coventry a bit behind schedule but smithy and mike still find time to pretend to be on the gladiator’s …….3……2…..1

Coventry is the home of our main sponsors RSL, so what better time to say a huge thanks for all their support and generosity, we couldn’t have done it with out you!!

image

Just wanted to say , Me and the rest of the 92 boys really do appreciate your tweets and Facebook messages ! Gives us a massive boost reading them !

So keep retweeting , leaving message and more importantly donating !

You have been outstanding and we love you !

I’m outta here

Afternoon everyone!
We are past the 48 hour mark and still going strong!

 

Our arrival at Crewe meant we had reached the 46th club on our challenge, which signalled the half way stage!!! We had some really lovely photos at crewe. Scuzz is quite the photographer! Up next was port vale. As we arrived at the stadium, a friendly gentleman greeted us by asking “are you here for the speed awareness course?” We were lucky enough to be joined in the stand by the manager, Micky Adams! We were lined up ready to have our photo taken when the following problems;

no memory card in camera.

Mike’s camera phone – no flash

smithy’s camera phone – pointing the wrong way so the club secretary taking the photo took a lovely pic of himself.

As you can imagine, mr. Adams thought we were a well organised group, stating “it’s like the blind leading the blind!” It was great to meet Micky and share some quality banter with him.

image

We went to stoke…it was grey. It rained. We left stoke.

Shoesbury tied into our route nicely and passed without incident before we went to wolves. It was an incredible stadium and we sat in the dugout for our photo. We were shown around by a very friendly American lady. She kept asking us “are you winning?” I’m not sure what we were meant to be winning but we all said “yes” anyway!

image image

We’re still having an awesome time and are enjoying visiting some fantastic (and not so fantastic) grounds.

Keep the tweets and comments coming…. They really do help so much!!!!

Thanks for the donations….let’s see if we can get to £4500 by Saturday morning. It’s for a great cause!

Stand by for the next blog from Tony the Baker!!!

A successful start to the day has seen us visit Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic, Everton, Liverpool and Tranmere Rovers.

We all feel suitably refreshed after a decent night’s sleep and finally being able to shower! A couple of coffees and red bulls and we were on our way to Bolton.

The sat nav continues to have a mind of its own but apart from that Bolton and Wigan were negotiated with minimal fuss.

Everton was one of the grounds we were most looking forward to visiting as they’d granted us permission for a pitch side photo and it didn’t disappoint. Lovely ground and it was great to have a quick look around, so big thanks to the staff at Everton for being so accommodating. Sadly Everton friend wasn’t there in his Ferguson shirt but we assume he’s still at the bar trying to buy Rodda a beer.

image

Then it was on to Anfield and we didn’t hold out much hope of being allowed in to take a photo as Liverpool hadn’t replied to any of the emails. Tony the Baker stepped up and thought he’d ask anyway, dropping in the classic line “well Everton just let us in” to put the pressure on! 5 minutes later and we were standing on the Kop taking photos! Amazing ground, steeped in history, so it was brilliant to be allowed in for photos on the Kop and pitch side. Great work Tbone and thanks Kevin at Anfield  for showing us around. Amazing experience.

image

Then we were quickly on to Tranmere Rovers and 92 in 92 Challenge history was made! Mike finally said “look, there’s the stadium”, and it actually turned out to be the stadium!! Previous attempts have seen him think various buildings were actually ‘the stadium’, such as B&Q, a used car dealership, a tree and last nights emphatic “there it is” turned out to be a small house!! We’ll done Mike, you finally got one!!

image

We’re now on our way to Crewe and we’re absolutely buzzing after a good night’s sleep and a great start to the morning. The sponsorship continues to come in so thank you so much to everyone who is donating, it’s a real inspiration.

The comments, retweets and Facebook likes we’ve had so far have been brilliant, so please keep them coming as it’s proving a huge boost and raising a lot of laughs!

Thanks for all your support guys, we really appreciate it. We’re also open to suggestions for ‘funny’ poses outside grounds, so feel free to suggest some!!!

So, yesterday evening we successfully managed a quick stop for photos at Blackburn’s Ewood Park before heading on to Accrington Stanley, the smallest ground of all the 92. We were running behind schedule so decided to jump out and have a very quick photo and then move on swiftly, however the stadium manager popped his head out of the office and invited us in for a pitch side photo! It was great to get pitch side at such a unique ground and we were delighted to be given a match worn Accrington Stanley shirt. The stadium manager also asked if we were going to Luton Town during office hours as Luton had left half their kit their when the two sides met recently. We laughed at what we assumed was a joke, but we were then shortly on our way to Burnley with half of Luton Town’s kit in the boot!! Lower league football at it’s finest!! image

 

 

 

 

 

Burnley was quite an experience. Then we were on to Bradford. Having learned literally nothing from our trip to Norwich the night before, we arrived at Bradford City 5 minutes before their game kicked off with Leeds United. With again an increase in traffic and nowhere to park, we chanced upon a parking space with a great view of the stadium in the background. After reverend Scuzz finally managed a reverse park, we went to exit the car. Before we could do so, a group of Leeds fans and Bradford fans took a dislike to each other and punches started flying 10yards away from our car!! A police riot van then screeched up next to us, blocking us in, and we sat ‘calmly’ in the car praying the windows remained intact and desperately trying to avoid eye contact with the brawling masses!!! We really couldn’t have timed our arrival any better! Credit to the police, who dispersed the incident swiftly, and we quickly jumped out, took a selfie and got the hell out of there as quickly as we could!! Next stop….. Leeds!

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bradford / Leads area further impressed us when two young gentleman sped past us on motorbikes, weaved in and out traffic then drove straight over a roundabout (literally) and then were off at speed down a footpath. Nut jobs. What a lovely area, we were gutted to see the back of it… The great experience at Accrington and the fun in Bradford and Leeds had the spirits back up and banter was back in full flow. Huddersfield Town and Rochdale passed without incident and we headed on to Bury about an hour behind schedule. We were welcomed to Gigg Lane by the legend that is Northern Siiii!! Was great to see you mate and it gave us another lift when we were all absolutely shattered!! Cheers for the champers! Enjoying hanging out in Ibiza…!

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Oldham and the two Manchester clubs to go and then we could have a well earned sleep in an actual bed. Bets called ahead and booked a hotel in Manchester and by this stage we all just wanted to get to the grounds as soon as possible and then get some sleep! The Sat Nav took this opportunity to start going crazy, maybe it needed sleep too?? But we eventually found all the grounds, and we’re delighted to be welcomed so heartily at the countries most successful club, Manchester Utd. Apparently tripods are forbidden

outside ‘the theatre of dreams’ and security quickly told us we weren’t allowed to take photos! Tony negotiated taking one whole photo, with the tripod and everything. We pushed or luck and took too photos and we’re practically chased back to the car and out of the car park! What a lovely club. In stark contrast to the incredible hospitality of some of the lower league and north east premier league clubs, Manchester United were much less accommodating. I guess success doesn’t breed class.

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

So a bit of a sour note to finish the night on but overall it has been a fantastic, once in a lifetime couple of days. So we headed to the prebooked Ibis Hotel. The sat nav was in full meltdown mode and we drove round the centre of Manchester for what seemed like an hour before we finally found the Ibis hotel. The pedantic condescending gentleman on reception quickly informed us we hadn’t booked with them and, having taken one look at us, assumed we were meant to be at the Ibis Budget Hotel a few miles away!! Unfortunately he was correct, so we paid £3 to get the car back out of the car park and headed to the budget hotel that was more in keeping with our appearance. We soon learned it was called budget for a reason! But it had beds and hot water, so it did the job!

We’re signing off for the night having enjoyed a successful evening visiting;

  • Blackburn Rovers
  • Accrington Stanley
  • Burnley
  • Bradford City
  • Leeds Utd
  • Huddersfield Town
  • Rochdale
  • Bury
  • Oldham Athletic
  • Manchester City
  • Manchester Utd

It’s been an eventful night, with unexpected ‘gifts’ from Accrington Stanley, excitement at Bradford vs Leeds, Manchester Utds fine hospitality, going to the wrong hotel and a guest appearance from Northern Si!!

A full blog will be uploaded tomorrow, but for now it’s good night from us.

Thank you all for your support, it really does drag us through the difficult moments!