Alex Man­ners is on a mis­sion

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

O FARmy quest to visit all 92 league grounds for a match cur­rently stands at 62. It’s strange to think how some­body like my­self be­came so ob­sessed with the sport, when be­fore I at­tended my first ever match I was not re­ally in­ter­ested in foot­ball!

The first league ground that I ever had the plea­sure of watch­ing a match at was St An­drews, the home of Birm­ing­ham City in Au­gust 2007. The game was against Here­ford United in the League Cup with Birm­ing­ham com­ing out on top 2-1.

The match was an evening game and whilst be­ing star-struck through­out, what sticks out the most for me about it was the two teams shak­ing hands at the end of the game.

From that day for­ward I had got the foot­balling bug and was hooked. The vast ma­jor­ity of the many grounds and games that I have at­tended have been with my un­cle Tim who, like my­self, used to go all over the coun­try watch­ing foot­ball when he was my age.

How­ever, un­like my­self, he only used to visit grounds that his team Birm­ing­ham City were play­ing at. I, on the other hand, am happy to go and watch any match ir­re­spec­tive of who is play­ing.

Along the way I have met many won­der­ful peo­ple and en­coun­tered many won­der­ful events. The most un­usual event oc­curred when my grandad and I were vis­it­ing the Swansea City ground whilst on hol­i­day there. I had got out of the car in my Swansea jumper and headed over to the shop whilst my grandad parked the car.

Be­fore I en­tered the shop a man stopped me and asked me if he could do an in­ter­view about Michael Lau­drup and Garry Monk. It turned out I had been in­ter­viewed for Dan­ish tele­vi­sion!

Once, whilst at the Bel­fry golf cen­tre in Birm­ing­ham where I was meet­ing my un­cle, my mum and I de­cided to drive round to the shop. I could not be­lieve it when I saw a Swansea City van parked up. I got out to have a photo with it and could not have en­vis­aged what hap­pened next. My favourite Swansea City player, Leon Brit­ton, walked past and I could not miss the op­por­tu­nity to have a photo with him – and the five oth­ers that fol­lowed.

On one oc­ca­sion my love for all things foot­ball nearly got me into trou­ble. I was stand­ing in the away end with the Birm­ing­ham fans at Charl­ton and the Charl­ton Ath­letic song ‘Val­ley Floyd Road’ sud­denly came on.

As this is one of, if not my favourite foot­ball songs, I started to sing it. I then no­ticed quite a few Blues fans look­ing at me and re­alised what I was do­ing – so quickly stopped!

In my quest to com­plete the 92, I also stop off and visit many other Non-League grounds.Whilst on the way to Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge, my un­cle and I vis­ited AFC Hornchurch, on the way to New­cas­tle we vis­ited Bishop Auck­land FC and on the way to Rochdale we vis­ited Sal­ford City.

Some of the Non-League teams that I have taken in matches at in­clude; Truro City, Leamington, Hednesford Town, Al­fre­ton Town and Chase­town. Not only do I visit Foot­ball League matches but I also take in matches at my lo­cal Non-League out­fit, Soli­hull Moors, whilst also fol­low­ing Bur­ton Al­bion and Swansea City.

I fol­low Swansea City with my grandad, who was brought up in the area, and usu­ally watch them play away at lo­cal grounds such as the Hawthorns and Pride Park.

I first started sup­port­ing Bur­ton Al­bion in the 2009/10 sea­son, their first in the Foot­ball League. My un­cle and I at­tended many games dur­ing that sea­son and I sub­se­quently fell in love with the club and its fans.

One mem­ory that sticks out most was the first time that I was ever mas­cot for Bur­ton against Here­ford United. Fun­nily enough, Here­ford were the op­po­nents for the first match I ever at­tended and it’s sad to have wit­nessed their demise. I was also the mas­cot for Bur­ton against Derby County in 2010 and was lucky enough to walk out with Rob­bie Sav­age. For an­other match at the Pirelli Sta­dium against Notts County I met then-Mag­pies di­rec­tor of foot­ball Sven-Go­ran Eriks­son and Peter Sch­me­ichel, whose son Kasper was play­ing for Notts.

I also wit­nessed AFC Bournemouth be­ing pro­moted from League Two into League One. One not so pleas­ant event that I wit­nessed while sup­port­ing Bur­ton was the time Grimsby Town were rel­e­gated from the Foot­ball League and fans started ri­ot­ing on the pitch.

Since early 2015 I have started my own YouTube chan­nel, reg­u­larly up­load­ing ‘Around the Grounds’ videos. The videos show fans what they can ex­pect when vis­it­ing cer­tain grounds and gives them a glimpse of the at­mos­phere.

From New­cas­tle to Ply­mouth, I have trav­elled the length and breadth of Bri­tain to ful­fil my quest.While the ma­jor­ity of grounds have been ticked off, who knows where my jour­ney will take me next? I, like many peo­ple, am a foot­ball fa­natic.

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