Here is my pin badge collection, as of February 2020, from the English soccer clubs…
Groundhopper Paul’s English & European Soccer Adventure, 2021-22 Edition
It’s finally time to go groundhopping again! Groundhopper Soccer Guides founder, Paul Gerald, shares his plans for going to football games in England and Europe during the 2021-22 season.
Updated 1-29-2022 with recent results and (mostly Covid-related) changes. Skip ahead to my schedule.
For months now, I’ve been dealing with things like “how to grow our SEO efficiency” and “which content should migrate to the new website” and “what the hell is CRM software?” I’ve also been attending staff meetings — of my staff! — and hiring consultants in countries I barely knew existed. I mean, is there a South Macedonia? (Of course there is, and Groundhopper Alethea has been there!)
And now, thank goodness, I’ve been working through questions like, “When will the Members Sale go up for Brentford-Chelsea,” and “Should I go for the home or away end at Crewe v Sunderland?”
My excitement is now coming from scoring a ticket for a South Wales Derby — our broker just added Cardiff City, baby! — or realizing that Bayern-Barcelona falls during my intended Germany trip. It’s more fun than, say, reviewing the latest Google Analytics numbers on our Ted Lasso Filming Locations post — although those numbers are kind of ridiculous. Go ahead, try it right now: Use Google to find out where they film Ted Lasso. We own that little corner of the internet.
Anyway, that doesn’t matter, because I’m going to Fiorentina at the end of October. I’m going to check out some Chelsea hospitality when they play Juventus. And I’m gonna go see the Man City Women play Chelsea and then hit the Curry Mile.
That’s because it’s groundhopping time again — this time with serious ambitions and European overtones.
(Not) Groundhopping in the Time of Covid
Like everybody else, my travel and game attendance stopped all of a sudden during a very strange week in March 2020. It also brought up some serious business and financial questions, but the gods of fortune smiled broadly upon me and I was able to ride it out and invest in the company — hence the staff, for example. And the CRM software, which I have gone from fighting with to wishing I could kiss it on occasion.
It’s awesome, really. Running this business interferes with my hiking and camping plans, but I started this whole thing to connect people with English soccer. More page views and ticket sales means more of that is happening.
So now it’s my turn again.
Doing the 92
My goal for the 2021-22 football season is twofold: check out some European clubs — more on that in a minute — and finish “the 92” in England.
What’s the 92? The top four tiers of fully professional clubs: 20 in the Premier League, 24 each in three divisions of the Football League. And “doing them” means attending a competitive game at all of them. It gets a lot more complicated that that, and super duper nerdy, but it’s pretty simple. Find ’em, get there, get in, and hope for a good game.
The 100+ Football Games I Have Seen in England
My first game of the 21-22 English season — October 2, Wimbledon v Burton Albion — was game #127 at ground #71, including #62 of the current 92. Again, though, it’s not just a number. Wimbledon are back in their home, a fan-owned club in a club-built stadium, after an unscrupulous owner took the original club away — so “ground #62” for me is coming home after a remarkable journey for them.
Also well beyond the numbers: I get to tell those stories again, after seeing them in person. (Be sure to subscribe to The Groundhopper for my weekly reports and much more.)
European Soccer Adventures
The company isn’t just growing in personnel and technology; we’re also expanding geographically. Since our brokers have contacts for tickets and hospitality in France, Spain, Germany and Italy, then it’s somebody’s job to go and check all those places out. And, as the owner of the company, I have decided that will be me!
Also, I understand the weather might be better in, say, Seville in March than in Nottingham. Also, Germany has Christmas markets. They also have European games in early December.
Speaking of which, let’s talk schedules.
My 2021-22 Groundhopping Schedule — So Far
I’ll spare you the whole color-coded, multi-column spreadsheet. (You have no idea!) I’ll also spare you my detailed notes on things like walking a section of the River Thames Path from Pangbourne Station to Tilehurst on the Great Western Railway from Paddington to Swindon to see Town play Rochdale.
October English Football Fixtures
- 10/2: Wimbledon 1-1 Burton Albion (#62 of the 92 grounds)
- 10/6: Chelsea 3-3 Wolfsburg (Women’s Champions League)
- 10/9: Sutton United 4-3 Port Vale (#63)
- 10/10: Arsenal Women 3-0 Everton
- 10/12: England 1-1 Hungary (World Cup Qualifying)
- 10/16: Brentford 0-1 Chelsea (#64)
- 10/19: Northampton Town 3-0 Stevenage (#65)
- 10/23: Swindon Town 0-3 Bradford City (#66)
- 10/24: West Ham 1-0 Tottenham
- 10/31: Fiorentina 3-0 Spezia (Italian Serie A ground #2)
November English Football Fixtures
- 11/2: Peterborough 1-1 Huddersfield Town (#67)
- 11/6: Scunthorpe United 0-1 Doncaster Rovers (FA Cup) (#68)
- 11/7: Rochdale 1-1 Notts County (FA Cup) (#69)
- 11/13: Carlisle United 0-0 Barrow (#70)
- 11/14: Man City Women 0-4 Chelsea Women
- 11/20: Fleetwood Town 1-2 Morecambe (#71)
- 11/23: Blackpool 0-0 West Bromwich Albion (#72)
- 11/26: Colchester 1-1 Newport County (#73)
- 11/27: Norwich City 0-0 Wolverhampton
- 11/28: Ipswich Town 2-1 Crewe Alexandra (#74)
December English & European Football Games
- 12/4: Walsall 1-2 Swindon Town (FA Cup – #75)
- 12/11: Side trip to MLS Cup 2021
- 12/18: Morecambe 0-0 Fleetwood Town (#80)
- 12/22: Brentford 0-2 Chelsea (League Cup)
- 12/26: Tottenham 3-0 Crystal Palace
- 12/27: QPR 0-1 Bournemouth
- 12/28: Crystal Palace 3-0 Norwich
- 12/29: Chelsea 1-1 Brighton
January English Football Fixtures
- 1/1: Arsenal 1-2 Man City
- 1/5: Leganes 2-3 Real Sociedad (Spanish Copa del Rey)
- 1/6: Real Madrid stadium tour
- 1/8: Real Madrid 4-1 Valencia (La Liga)
- 1/9: Rayo Vallecano 1-1 Real Betis (La Liga)
- 1/22: Atletico Madrid 3-2 Valencia (La Liga)
- 1/29: Barnet 0-5 Stockport County — some unfinished business.
Remainder of 2021-22 English & European Football Season
At this point, it’s all a little unclear, but here are some things I still hope to pull off.
- 2/19: Leeds United v Manchester United
- 3/20: Roma v Lazio
- 3/26: Non-League Day in England
- 4/2: Cardiff City v Swansea City
- 5/29: Championship Playoff Final at Wembley
Are you interested in joining us for some UK and European groundhopping this season? Fill out the form below to receive more information about our upcoming tours.