Footie fan’s 1000th club visit at Wick
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BITING bedbugs almost resulted in Barry Davis being forced to postpone his trip to Wick Academy’s Harmsworth Park which became the 1000th football ground he had visited.
The retired BT worker had been on holiday in Orkney and, having visited 999 stadiums in the past, his trip to the most northerly senior football ground was set to mark his milestone.
But, while crossing the Pentland Firth, he discovered he had been bitten several times which caused him severe distress and required a trip to the accident and emergency department at Caithness General in Wick.
“On Saturday morning before we left Orkney to get the ferry, I discovered I had three bites on my back and during the crossing it became very painful,” he said. “I was forced to go to hospital in Wick due to the amount of pain I was in, I had no idea what had bitten me.
“It was the first time I had been to hospital before attending a football match but I was determined not to miss it, especially since it marked my 1000th ground.”
Mr Davis (67), from Bromley, London, has marked his own distinguished career in football by visiting 1000 stadiums in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland.
The first ground in Barry’s collection was Craven Cottage, where, as a young lad among a crowd of 42,195, he saw a second division promotion clash in February 1958, a 2-2 draw between Fulham and West Ham United. Some years later he completed his full set of 92 English league grounds and has also visited half of the stadiums in the Scottish Football League.
He admitted it wasn’t a cheap hobby but visiting different grounds across the country was his passion in life.
“I try and watch a football match every weekend if I can – it is hard to take into account how much money I spend on going to matches,” he said.
“If you work out a 200-mile round trip every two weeks, which includes the occasional overnight stay, I guess it would cost a lot of money.”
A lifelong Tottenham Hotspur fan, Mr Davis said despite being a regular to White Hart Lane, the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City, was the most impressive ground he had been to.
He wouldn’t mention the worst ground he’d visited but said he had no time for football clubs which didn’t do match day programs.
“There are some very bad grounds in English non-league football but I couldn’t name them,” he said. “But as long as they sell a programme I am happy as that is what I am into collecting.”
Mr Davis and his partner Linda were given a special mention in the Academy programme last weekend and he was also asked to conduct the half-time 50/50 raffle draw.
Harmsworth Park was the third Highland League ground he visited, having previously watched Scottish Cup ties at Huntly and Nairn but said he was taken aback by the level of support for Wick Academy.
“I am very impressed with the crowd as I’m sure it is a lot bigger compared to what other Highland League teams get,” he said.
“Wick are a good side and their passing and moving is very impressive. I knew they were a team that score a lot of goals and that was another reason I came to watch them.”