Groundhopping is the hobby that allows you the chance to visit some truly dismal places, that you’d never travel to normally, yet find real beauty there.
So, why football grounds? Well why not for a start and I’ll be the first to admit the actual game itself is not the be-all and end-all for me, I’m certainly no tactical expert.
Often its how you get there, and the people you find that are the really reason I’ve clocked up the miles that I have. Whether its rolling stock at Sobemai, or the North Sea washing over the stand at Arbroath these are the gems I try to seek out. Both of those you can find in this blog.
And let’s be honest here, If every single one of these articles were a match report, “Player X passed to Player Y” you wouldn’t be reading this, and I wouldn’t be writing them! After all, a match report is only of interest to those who were there, and the two clubs’ fans.
It’s also gratifying to see many of my readers aren’t even football fans, so I’m now adding occasional articles that aren’t about football. It proves, if proof were needed that when it comes to groundhopping, its the additional knowledge of the world and its people that counts. You can’t put a price on that.
When I started this blog over 9 years ago, I could never have guessed where it could lead, I was already involved organising groundhops with GroundhopUK, but now we use this blog to help pass on good practice. However the oddest bit, and easily the most gratifying is when I get contacted with the message, “Come and visit us…” and I get to chuck the camera in the back of the car and wonder what on earth I’ll write next.
When Robyn and I met during Christmas 2015 everything changed. Apart from the desire to revisit and show her some of the “Greatest Hits” featured in these pages Robyn has turned what felt like a black-and-white existence into a vibrant, full coloured adventure. Other than being a quite wonderful companion during our adventures, she’s become a superb short-lens photographer. Her work has featured in many of these articles, and will be for the time being. In the long term she really ought to have her own vehicle for her talents.
Robyn and I got married in January 2020. We managed to get engaged on the 28th floor of the Stockholm Radio Tower 18th months’ earlier, and still managed to find a game to photograph in the evening! I promise we didn’t do that on our wedding day, in fact the only football was saw that day was a marzipan one on our wedding cake! Mind you we did attend the Lisbon derby 6 days later!
So where will it all end? Put simply it won’t, there are more football grounds than there are days left I can travel in. And I don’t lack ambition, if there’s a pitch somewhere, I’ll go there and try to capture its essence and I’ve done that on nearly 2,200 grounds, in 25 countries and 3 continents. One thing I did get right 9 years ago was the title, the aim is still “Football wherever it may be”
Thanks for reading this.
Laurence Reade 20/03/2020