Groundhopper Guides Turns 2
It's just about five years ago today that I was sat in The Emirates Stadium in North London, watching Arsenal pummel Fulham, trying to keep my mouth shut about the fact that I was supporting Fulham. Despite the result, I was having a grand time, sitting with a good friend, enjoying some banter with the locals, and trying to figure out what the folks around me were singing.
And then a series of very simple ideas occurred to me: This is fun. I should write about this. Other people will enjoy this, too. I can help them.
So I decided to write a book, which is what I do. I previously wrote guidebooks to Portland and Oregon, but hey, it's just a bigger stage, right? Deciding to write a book makes absolutely no financial sense, anyway, so I'll just do that and see what happens.
Nearly five years later, I have seen 87 games at 55 different stadiums, including the entire Premier League and all but two of the Championship grounds. And yes, I wrote and published the book. But along the way it's those second two ideas -- people will enjoy this, and I can help them -- that have really amazed me.
By the end of 2016 I was helping people plan trips, and I had signed up with a ticket broker so I could sell tickets. I had no idea this was even possible until I was doing it. I had stumbled into a business idea: Groundhopper Soccer Guides!
During calendar 2017 I hooked up 21 people with tickets to English soccer games, and I helped more plan their trips. I was thrilled. Hearing from people who had the time of their lives at a game made me happier than I would have been had Fulham won that day at Arsenal.
In 2018, I have helped 65 people get into games -- some of you more than once. Cutting those numbers a different way: In the 2017-18 season, I helped 31 people go to games. In just the first half of the 2018-19 season that number is 55!
I've even met some of you, and I'm about to meet quite a few more, as Groundhop 1 will see crews of six at Spurs-Wolves, four at Crystal Palace-Chelsea, five at Leyton Orient, and eight at Manchester City vs Liverpool. Groundhop 2 will be happening in March, so stay tuned on that one.
So I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks. Thanks for reading, thanks for getting in touch, and thanks for letting me help with your groundhopping adventures. We are part of a worldwide movement of sorts -- just check out #groundhopping on social media sometime -- and I thrilled and humbled to be your guide.
I hope I'll keep hearing from you and meeting you, and I hope you'll keep deciding to go groundhopping.
Speaking of Going Groundhopping ...
I leave in the morning for another fabulous festive season run, with nine games on the docket from Boxing Day through January 6. We will be going from the National League South (tier 6 of the pyramid) to literally the top of the Premier League table, where we could see Liverpool all but clinch their first league title in 20+ years if they win at Manchester City.
Honestly, I am at least as excited about seeing Dulwich Hamlet return to their home ground at Champion Hill -- with the same friends who first took me to Arsenal -- and seeing Leyton Orient host their rivals Dagenham and Redbridge.
And if you want to know what that's all about, head on over to my blog and read about my festive plans. It's truly the most wonderful time of the year ... for groundhopping!