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.
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.
My first game of the 21-22 English season — October 2, Wimbledon v Burton Albion — will be 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 Games (and a side trip to Italy)
- 9/29: One last U.S. game the day before I fly out: Portland Timbers at LAFC (for better or worse, I’m Rose City til I Die!)
- 10/2: Wimbledon v Burton Albion (#62 of the 92 grounds)
- 10/5: Hayes and Yeading in the Southern League Cup — AFC Richmond’s Training Ground!
- 10/9: MK Dons v Wimbledon: matchup of the current and former Wimbledons! (63)
- 10/10: Chelsea Women v Leicester City (at the former Wimbledon ground)
- 10/16: Brentford v Chelsea (praying for a ticket miracle) or Swindon Town v Rochdale (64)
- 10/19: Crewe Alexandra v Sunderland (65)
- 10/20: Chelsea v Malmo (Champions League)
- 10/23: Port Vale v Colchester (66)
- 10/24: Brentford v Leicester
- 10/31: Fiorentina v Spezia (Italian Serie A ground #2)
November English Football Fixtures
- 11/2: Nottingham Forest v Sheffield United
- 11/3: Liverpool v Atletico Madrid (Champions League)
- 11/5-8: FA Cup Round One
- 11/12: Hartlepool United v Newport County (67)
- 11/13: Sunderland v Lincoln City
- 11/14: Man City Women v Chelsea Women
- 11/20: Fleetwood Town v Morecambe (68)
- 11/21: Man U Women v Arsenal Women
- 11/23: Blackpool v West Bromwich Albion (69)
- 11/24: Man City v PSG (Champions League) — Splurge Game #1
- 11/26: Colchester v Newport (70)
- 11/27: Norwich v Wolverhampton
- 11/28: Ipswich Town v Crewe Alexandra (71)
December English & European Football Games
- 12/3-6: FA Cup Round Two
- 12/7: Dortmund v Besiktas (Champions League)
- 12/8: Bayern Munich v Barcelona (Champions League) — Splurge Game #2
- 12/9: Union Berlin v Slavia Prague (Europa League)
- 12/11: Hertha Berlin v Arminia Bielefeld
- 12/15: Something in Germany
- 12/18: Something in Germany
- 12/21: EFL Cup Quarters
- 12/22: EFL Cup Quarters
- 12/26: Groundhop Tour in London!
- 12/28: Groundhop Tour Somewhere
- 12/29: Groundhop Tour
January English Football Fixtures
- 1/1: Groundhop Tour, Possibly Chelsea v Liverpool
- 1/2: Groundhop Tour to National League
- 1/3: Groundhop Tour to National League
- 1/7-10: FA Cup Round Three
Remainder of 2021-22 English & European Football Season
At this point, there will be much European touring, with a few highlight games already booked because I will fly in from anywhere to get to them:
- 2/19: Leeds United v Manchester United
- 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.