In 1993, I was made aware of a festival of football matches in the Northern League over an Easter period, this was known as the 3rd Northern League Groundhop.At the time I was at Dunkirk FC and they rewarded me with a paid ticket for the weekend. I travelled up and stayed at Durham University, where other Non League football supporters from all over the Country gathered and met up, lots from other Non League Clubs. A coach was provided round all the football grounds, with around 100 hoppers attending. When the Northern League grounds were completed by the Ground Hoppers, the Devon League took over the event at Easter and then the South West League. Over the years there have been other Leagues covered, with some in Wales, Shropshire and also the Northern Counties East League.
Ten seasons ago, I joined the Central Midlands Football League Committee and I announced that they were to hold their first ever Football Bonanza/Groundhop and was going to attempt to beat a world record and hold FIVE Matches in ONE Day.
Sky Sports and also the Times Newspaper and the Daily Telegraph covered this; as well our local newspapers like the Nottingham Evening Post, Mansfield Chad and Derby Telegraph.
A few Easters ago saw us created a New World Record with us doing 8 Central Midlands League matches in under 35 hours, knocking an amazing 8 and half hours off the previous record held by the Devon League.
Ground hoppers are people who love football, mainly Non League for several reasons really, the cost, the friendliness of the clubs and the people that run clubs. Some Groundhoppers go to a new ground every week, some even 2 or 3 new ones a week.
The Groundhops attracts people from all corners of the World, this weekend there will be Kim from Sweden (who runs a Swedish Groundhop in June/July), Magret Hanke, a lovely lady from Germany, a chap all the way from Oban in Scotland and a local chap known as aka Veteran who has been to over 3.000 football grounds. A big supporter of the Groundhops is no other than "Talksport Radio" Tony Incenzo
This season, I have taken the Groundhop to the Notts Senior League, which of course is based in Nottinghamshire. The date of this seasons Groundhop is Friday 19th April & Saturday 20th April.
The weekend sees the Groundhop begin with a 6.30pm kick off on Friday at Magdala Amateurs FC which is situated off Wilford Lane in West Bridgford, quite close to the famous Trent Bridge Cricket Ground where they entertain Bilborough Town.
An early start on the Saturday Morning sees the first match held at The Selston Parish Hall Ground, between Selston FC v Wollaton FC at 10.10am. We then head to the Bracken Park Ground, where Underwood Villa FC face West Bridgford FC with a 12.45pm kick off. The Shilo Ground, the home of Awsworth Villa FC sees them play Cotgrave FC at 3.30pm and we then finish with a 6.15pm kick off at the Digby Street Ground when Kimberley Miners Welfare FC play Keyworth United FC.
Advanced ticket sales deadline is on 10th April 2013, with over 140 tickets sold already. The Advanced Tickets are £15 each and that includes entry to all 5 matches and a pack of the 5 programmes, which I think you will agree is superb value.
Club Badges and old kit and programmes etc will also be available on sale and there will be different non league club shops from up and down the country selling bits and bobs, also Mrs Hazel Hornby, my wife will be selling football programmes etc for the Cancer Unit at Kings Mill Hospital which has treated me so well through my Hodgkins Lymphomia. So far I have just over £220 raised, so of course any kind donations will be very grateful for such a good cause!
All clubs will be doing Food and Refreshments all at a reasonable cost, no food to be over £2.50 and teas/coffees 50p. Food will be different at each club, for example, Hot Pork rolls at Magdala, Bacon & Sausage Rolls at Selston, Pie & Peas at Underwood Villa, Home made Stew & Dumplings at Awsworth Villa and Jacket potatoes with fillings at Kimberley MW.
Selston FC are also having some real Ale from a local Brewary for you real ale people.
We do run a coach from Nottingham Station Street, at the side of the main train station in Nottingham on the Saturday to all 4 Saturday games at the cost of £15 per seat. We are down to the final 3 seats left on the coach , so if you would like to book on the coach, please get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone me on 01623 486678 for all information and a booking form.
Crowds are expected to be around 300, but it would always be nice to see more and there will be car parking at all grounds. Some of the grounds will be charging a £1 for parking. So if you want to see what Non League Football is all about, then please come along. If you are on the committee of a club and feel you have a fan who deserves some sort of a reward, why not buy him a Advanced Ticket and book him on the coach for the Saturday.
Hope to see many new faces on 19/20th April, With so many League matches being played on a Sunday nowdays why not leave Premiership and Football League for just ONE DAY and come along for a cheap cheerful break.