The 54 Club

by Fred Tickell

Fred Tickell is currently in the middle an epic journey around Europe, visiting each of the 54 UEFA member countries, and we’ll be featuring his stories on BackPageFootball.

Long before the football hipster there was the football anorak. The anorak, adorned in wax coats and flat caps, possessed an encyclopaedic knowledge of football that, unfortunately, seldom included much outside of the British Isles.

One members’ card these intrepid football enthusiasts frequently sported is that of The 92 Club. To join the hallowed ranks one must attend a football match at all 92 football league stadiums in England. The initial journey itself is no small feat and newly constructed grounds and debutants arriving from the Conference require annual refreshes.

While as a football fan I held aspirations to visit the 92 the price of tickets, trains and hotels as well as the difficulty in procuring tickets for the top teams dissuaded me. Conservative estimates placed the cost around the £10,000 and many, many lost weekends.

Having grown up without Sky TV, James Richardson and 90s Italian football was my first experience of the beautiful game. Thus, when I visited Rome in December of 2012, it was a priority to see a Serie A game and fulfil a childhood dream.

The second game in Holland was merely convenient, the third in Malta a simple holiday activity but by the time I was purposefully booking a trip to Gothenburg for the sole purpose of seeing a Swedish football game it had become a passion.

There are 54 UEFA member countries and with flights to Skopje costing less than trains to Scunthorpe I set out to join the extremely exclusive 54 Club.

Keep an eye out for the first part of Fred’s journey which we’ll bring you early next week!

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