Hitchin football fan visits 232 grounds in mammoth stadium-hopping challenge

PUBLISHED: 12:01 12 January 2019

Archie Summerhayes at Oxford United FC. Picture: Bev Summerhayes

Archie Summerhayes at Oxford United FC. Picture: Bev Summerhayes

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A Hitchin football fan has completed a mammoth four-and-a-half year ground-hopping challenge.

Archie Summerhayes at Hitchin Town FC. Picture: Bev SummerhayesArchie Summerhayes at Hitchin Town FC. Picture: Bev Summerhayes

Archie Summerhayes, 16, visted 232 football grounds across the country from the Premier League down to step seven of the football pyramid.

After starting way back in 2014, aged just 12, he finished the challenge at his hometown club, Hitchin Town FC, on December 19.

Speaking to the Comet, Archie said: “I got the idea from Twitter I think.

“I’d heard of people doing the 92 when you watch a game at all the Football League clubs.

Archie Summerhayes at Stevenage FC. Picture: Max SummerhayesArchie Summerhayes at Stevenage FC. Picture: Max Summerhayes

“From watching Hitchin Town regularly I developed a passion for non-league football. I kind of put two and two together and the 232 was born.

“The main reason for doing it mainly comes from ‘why not?’

“But I think I also liked the idea of getting to see lots of other places around the country I wouldn’t have even thought about going to.”

Archie will be familiar to regular visitors to Hitchin’s Top Field ground, as he can be heard over the tannoy at home games.

Archie Summerhayes at Enfield Town FC. Picture: Max SummerhayesArchie Summerhayes at Enfield Town FC. Picture: Max Summerhayes

The challenge has seen the 16-year-old travel up and down the country, with some unusual modes of transport.

“The majority of grounds I’ve done with my dad, who can’t drive, so public transport was required,” said Archie.

“We used trains, trams, buses, ferries in Gosport and North Shields, hovercrafts and a steam railway in Ramsbottom, as well as lots and lots of walking.

“My mum and grandad kindly offered to drive me too, occasionally with my annoyed sisters.”

Having seen so many grounds, Archie found it difficult to pick a favourite, saying: “In terms of the look and character, either Enfield Town’s Queen Elizabeth II Stadium or Maidenhead’s York Road, and also our very own Top Field is up there.

“For more modern grounds, Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium takes it for its interesting architecture.

“Almost all grounds have their quirks, like the sea level mark on the stand at Canvey Island or the public footpath around Bideford’s pitch.

“I’d say Enfield is my overall favourite, though, unique for its art-deco clubhouse and being the only ground with an athletics track around I’ve liked.”

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