I am often asked questions, about my travels and in order to answer some of the questions here are my own personal lists.
You may wonder how I have been able to put all this together….. I guess I was writing lists before you had heard of Nick Hornby. Also most people think of events that have happened and can say where they were, for example J.F.K.
I am now using those events to pinpoint which game I was at.
Some of the references that I have aren’t quite of the magnitude of the example given. When I asked for my brothers help we both remembered the day when we went to pick up a friend early in the morning and he brought his cereal bowl in the car and finished his breakfast.
Notts County played Tranmere in a play off final the day I saw a nine goal thriller in Greece. Tiananmen square was happening whilst I was in Luxembourg, the Iron Curtain came down just after I had been there. I had the afternoon off work and drove down to Portsmouth on my own on the day John Peel’s death was announced. Put this together with the fact that I had to get visas for every country (at a cost of around £20 each) in Eastern Europe in 1989 and that they all stamped my passport, one day I will be able to recreate all of the matches I went to on that trip, I do remember reading about Arsenal’s victory at Anfield in a Yugoslavian paper shop. Using memories like this I have been back through the archives and managed to put together the information you can now see here.
I have now answered one of the questions. Which was “ How many countries have you been to, to watch football?”
The current answer given is 59. However the real answer would be 60 as I haven’t included Russia. I went there in December 1999 to watch Leeds play Spartak Moscow in the U.E.F.A. Cup. There were warning signs, as we arrived into Moscow from the airport we could see the Moskva river (which is at least 120m wide) was frozen over. Not only was it frozen over but people were stood on the middle of the ice with fishing rods!). We arrived the day before the game and were assured that everything was O.K. it wasn’t until we all met at the hotel at 5 p.m. to get our bus to the stadium that we found out that the match had been called off.
How many countries have I been to and not seen football?
Eight. Russia, Austria, Gibraltar and fleeting visits to Libya, Latvia, China, Oman and Azerbaijan.
This leads onto what’s the furthest you’ve travelled only to find the match postponed?
Well there have been a couple of occasions when I arrived at the stadium and found no one there. The first was in Basel at St Jakob, the ground was enclosed in security fencing but there was no one around. it turned out that Phil Collins was playing there and the match had been moved across town. After some vague directions I jumped on a tram and found my way to the new venue. Also there was the time in Hiroshima when I caught the monorail high into the hills to the Big Arch stadium, only to find lots of school kids there and no game. I found that they had moved this game as well. But I was beckoned into a jeep and whisked off back down the mountain to the game at another venue.
I can’t remember any instances in the U.K I guess because I would always just go to another game, but I have already mentioned Moscow thats approx 1,500 miles. But that’s not the furthest. In 2003 I travelled to Argentina for 3 weeks. I arrived on a Sunday expecting to pick up a local paper and head straight to a game, only to find that football had been suspended indefinitely after trouble the previous weekend. That meant I had travelled nearly 7,000 miles only for the game to be called off. However the ban did not affect South American competitions and on the Wednesday Independiente played host to River Plate. I didn’t understand how they could stop the league but play this game. never mind I was there. I then made up a schedule that included visits to Chile, back to Argentina for Colon v Boca Juniors (where I saw Tevez for the first time) and then to Uruguay. The football suspension was eventually lifted in the last week of my stay and needless to say I made up for lost time.
More recently at Euro 2012 I was in Donetsk, at the Ukraine v France match which was halted for an hour due to thunderstorms, I was lucky enough to be in the half of the stadium that stayed dry and that after an hour they continued the game. The last time I encountered something like this was back in 1988 when the Sabadell v Valenicia match was halted for rain but continued after a break of around 30 minutes.
As for countries I have been to and not seen a football match, well you can count them on one hand. Gibraltar, Oman, Austria and Russia, as mentioned above and just for the record I have changed planes in Libya, Latvia and China (that’s for the other hand!) as well as catching a helicopter from Equatorial Guinea but not spent time in the countries………….yet.
“What’s the most number of games you have been to in a season?”
I don’t know! I did work out that in 2006 I saw 56 international games. 26 in the African Cup of Nations, 25 in the World Cup 3 Scotland games and two others.
“What’s the most number of goals you have seen scored in one day?”
At the African Cup of Nations in 2006, I decided to attend two quarter final matches which were being held on the same day. The first kicked off around 4.00p.m. in Port Said This was between Nigeria and Tunisia. It finished 1-1 after extra time and so went to penalty shoot out which finished 7-6 to Nigeria. So 15?
I then went with some friends in a taxi from Port Said back to Cairo for Cameroon against Côte D’Ivoire. The 105 miles were not graced with the best of roads and we missed the first 30 minutes of the game. We were rewarded with another period of extra time, another 1-1 draw and a penalty shoot out that saw all eleven from each side take their penalties and score. Starting again Eto’o dinked the ball over the bar and Drogba scored and so it finished 12-11 to Côte D’Ivoire. So 36 penalties scored in one day. And a total of 40 goals.
One which I am working on is,” Just how many grounds have you been to?”
Well so far we have 145 English League grounds, 24 Scottish grounds, 131 English non league grounds and 349 foreign grounds. So total so far, 649 (With more to come, when I get round to working it out).
The latest question I have been asked is how may teams have you seen?
Once again I have no idea, but I look forward to Ajaya coming up with the answer.