A Personal Message from Martin Tyler to Walkthe92

A message from the world renowned commentator Martin Tyler.

Martin took a minute from recording new material from FIFA 14 to send me a message of support, for which I am very grateful. A big thanks to my mate Simon for organising this nice surprise.

Click on the link below twice to hear it, you may have to increase the volume on whatever device you afe using to view this post.

Message For Scott

92 Players Competition – Guess the players, win cash!

HAVE FUN AND ALSO HAVE THE CHANCE TO WIN SOME CASH…..

A competition has been devised by a friend Jim Newman, he has collated 92 players to represent each of the 92 clubs I will visit on my walk and all you have to do is guess them all.

You can leave the tricky business of walking to all of them to me.

If you feel inspired enough to donate to Prostate Cancer UK you can do so at my Justgiving site which is

www.justgiving.com/walkthe92

The details of how to enter are contained in the Document which you can download here: Walk The 92

The very best of luck to you all……

Hand over that dangerous Flag!

Ray joined me for the walk to Rotherham the next day, it was another cold and crisp day, great walking conditions. Radio Sheffield gave me a call half way and did a live interview with me, the purpose was to try and get me some digs in Sheffield and amazingly it worked! A chap called Adi sent me an email and offered his help, he was a Forest fan but lived close enough to Sheffield to be able to put me up.  When Ray and I arrived at the New York stadium we had a quick look around and then parted ways before I headed to my hotel for the night which was being paid for by a Rotherham fan called Danny.  

I returned to the New York stadium the next morning and enjoyed a tour of this fabulous new build stadium which still smells of fresh paint in some corridors. We even went up to the TV gantry which had a fantastic view of the whole stadium from the height of the roof, Barry joined me as he runs the Rotherham History fan club and it was good fun being shown round with an enthusiastic fan.

There is a canal system that runs right into Sheffield from Rotherham and I followed that a few hours before heading across town to Bramall Lane to complete my walk to the first of the two Sheffield clubs.  First to all I had to headback the way I came to meet up with my host for two nights Adi who worked in Meadowhall, which is a large shopping area North of Sheffield, we drove back to his place in Woodsetts.

Next day I was the guest of Sheffield Utd and was being given a ground tour by the one and only Tony Currie, a Utd legend and a player I remember from watching football in the 70′s and 80′s in an excellent QPR side.  He is definately a larger than life character and it was a pleasure to spend some time with him looking around the Oldest Ground in the World. Bramall Lane was also a Cricket Oval so until recent history still only had 3 sides and was used for both Football and Cricket well into the 20th century.

Tony had me in stiches throughout the tour and it just shows the value of having ex players around the club who clearly love the place, they bring great value and a sense of pride in the club that they work for, clubs such as my Pompey have acted shamefully to its ex players in the past, we must look to rectify that for next season.

After completing the walk from Bramall Lane to Hillsborough which only took a couple of hours at most, I spent some time in Sheffield town centre before heading back to Meadowhall to meet up with Adi again to head to his gaff again, the snow was coming down and it looked as if it would snow all night so I was looking at my first period of really bad weather.

An early start the next morning, I was a guest on Radio Sheffield morning programme with Georgie Spanswick and Adi came with me.  As we waited in the studio reception the Producer asked if we both wanted to go into the studio, Adi was really excited by this which made me laugh, we turned out to be a double act! It was a great interview, Georgie was an easy interviewer and I really enjoyed myself and it was fun to see Adi made up with being on the radio.   After our 15 mins of fame he then took me to my digs for the night, I was staying with Tom who is yet another Pompey fan who was born and raised in Coventry, bizarrely enough.

He had agreed to put me up as he lived near to Bramall Lane and it would be easier to head to Chesterfield on Sunday from there.   The second of the Sheffield clubs had a match on and I was going to have a quick tour before seeing Wednesday take on Wolves.

I took the Tram from the town centre to Hillsborough and headed to the Memorial to the 96 Liverpool fans who tragically lost their lives in 1989 at the FA Cup semi final, it looked eerie covered in snow and the hundreds of scarves and shirts left there was quite moving, I had seen it the previous day and vowed to return and leave my Walk The 92 Pompey shirt I had bought for wearing on my Walk, I hadnt seen a Pompey scarf or shirt there so I left mine and took some photos.

A young lady called Kelly was giving me the tour of Wednesdays infamous ground and I was lucky enough to meet the Club Chaplain who was very interested in what I was doing and insisted on posing fora couple of photos for his Blog so that he could promote the Walk.  As we walked the corridors we ran into Chris Kirkland and Chris Maguire playing a game that involved kicking a ball against a wall, Maguire saw my Pompey top when I posed for a quick photo with Kirkland and was genuinely interested in the clubs situation, I couldn’t tell him any good news of course, but he wished us luck.

The game itself was a scrappy affair, Wednesday had the better chances but it ended goalless, I have certainly not had much luck the games I have seen!   I watched the game from the newly relaunched family stand, the reason I was in that was because I had met up with Mark Bradley and his son, Mark was there observing the launch as part of his role as a guru for making things much better for Fans at clubs and improving the experience when they attend matches.

I have followed Marks Blogs for some time and also had Doncaster Rovers singing his praises when I visisted them earlier in the month.  Mark is a very enthusiastic proponent of treating Fans well and I heartily agree, we should make good use of his work at Pompey in the future.

You can read Marks Blogs here: http://bradleyprojects.com/blog.php

I suffered a little trouble getting in, I had my bag checked and there was some consternation over my flag, apparently it shouldn’t be allowed into grounds without a fire safety certificate! I did point out I had already been inside Hillsborough and over 50 other grounds with it, but I had to leave it in Reception. Stewards!   After the match I had to walk back to town, it is impossible to get on a Tram or Bus leaving Hillsborough, I met Tom and his girlfriend for some food and a couple of beers before we headed back to his place. The snow came again over night, making the days walking to Chesterfield the next day tricky going.

Tom joined me for the 11 mile walk to the Spireites town but before reaching there we walked through a village called Dronfield which is home to the oldest Football Club in the World, Sheffield FC.  The ground was covered in deep snow but a gate into the ground was open and we snuck in taking lots of photos.   You can become a member online, go to www.sheffieldfc.com to see details.

A couple of hours later and we were in Chesterfield and at their fairly new stadium, Tom shared a drink in a nearby pub with me and then headed to the station to get home, I watched the Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea then met John O’Shaunnesy, yet another generous Pompey fan who was inviting me into his home.   Yet more snow arrived that night but luckily I was spending the whole day in Chesterfield, it did make for an interesting attempt for John to get his car out of his lovely estate because the roads werent gritted at all, but we made it and I got to Chesterfield.

I did have one problem though, due to a communication mix up I hadn’t pre-organisedmy visit, I need not have worried though because when I arrived someone from the club was only too happy to show me around the place, so I got all the photos I needed and they even game me a couple of programmes to keep.  I had a good look round Chesterfield and the crooked spire then met John to head back to his and a warm house, it was absolutely bitter and I was worried about Ice and Snow in the coming days.

From Chesterfield there was a 2 day trip to Derby and John and his wife had generously said I could stay with them one more night to save me money, so I walked through thick snow, sometimes a foot deep in places, towards the half way stop of Ripley.

On the way I passed through some old mining towns and one place called Clay Cross had some pit wheels as a memorial, I stopped to take some pictures and as I turned to leave an old chap told me he had worked all his life down a pit and had lost many friends in accidents, it was a very sobering chat but a rewarding one.  Mining was a big part of British life until the 80′s, now all is left are Monuments and Working Mens clubs.

Next Blog sees me head through the East Midlands, see you then.

Meeting Heroes – On and off the pitch

Shocked into silence, that’s not usually me. I’m not usually star struck either.

I had arrived at Old Trafford the other Monday morning and announced myself in reception, there was some initial confusion while they tried to find the person who was dealing with me, but I sat patiently waiting to then be informed that there was no United Legend at the club today so I would not be having my photo taken with one. Slightly disappointed I joined a tour of the stadium which had been kindly laid on for me by the chaps in the media dept and which started at 10am.

The guide took us into the stadium after his initial introduction but his radio crackled with a message, “If Scott Mclahlan could run round to the East Stand reception then Sir Bobby will be there to greet him.” It didn’t really register until the guide said to me “Your luck is in Son, you’re meeting Sir Robert.” So, breathless with excitement I jogged round to the East Stand reception where the receptionist who had earlier told me I was out of luck was now offering me a Coffee and a seat to wait for the great man.

After a few minutes he emerged from the side door and he warmly greeted me after the Media chaps had introduced me and explained what i was doing. I was struggling to do anything apart from grin like a lunatic at this point but I did splutter out some words of thanks for him meeting me. At Sir Bobbys request we all headed up to one of the boxes which lead out to the Stadium in order to pose for some photos and immediately you could tell how warmly Sir Bobby felt about Old Trafford, he lit up when talking about the place. It was a pleasure to be in his company if only briefly, a real highlight of my walk and a moment I will never forget. He shok me warmly by the hand and wished me good luck bemoaning the fact he couldnt do much walking himself now, especially in places like Inverness where he had spent some time recently.

One of footballs true greats and a real gentleman.

After an interview for the United magazine I went back on the tour to see Old Trafford up close myself, its an impressive place and a recent addition of the Munich memorial in one part of the ground that is accessible by the public is a really nice touch, telling the story and also providing a fitting memorial. It really serves to remind people what early commercial airflight was like and sometimes just how dangerous it was, we take flying for granted now but post war it was a risky business.

That evening I stayed with a lady called Clare who lived in a nice place just outside of Stockport and worked at the BBC in the Mediacity, its an impressive place in the rebuilt quays and the whole regeneration of Manchester in that area looks modern and dynamic. Sadly Clare had a missing cat called Archie and we spent some time that evening looking for him and putting up posters, I hope he has now returned safe and sound.

The next day I headed to the Emirates to visit Manchester City, a place I had been before but the last time I had not very happy memories as Portsmouth were roundly beaten 6-0. The improvement is massive after a few years of investment and the place really looks like home, alongside a centre of sporting achievement where Sport England send some athletes, its an impressive complex now. The one thing that I thought was a very nice touch was a memorial garden where fans could scatter ashes of lost loved ones and also have a small service.

The club had laid on a couple of ex-players, Alex Williams and Paul Lake to have some pictures taken with me, but to my surprise they had also set up the actual Premier League trophy and Charity Shield to have some pictures taken pitchside with! This completed a personal hat-trick as I had also laid hands on the real FA Cup in 2008 when Pompey had it so this week was turning out to be very special. Sarah in the Commercial dept was also going to arrange a signed certificate to commemorate my visit, which was a very nice and unique gesture.

The Manchester City Supporters Club had also set me up with a night in the Brittania Hotel in the city centre so I was well catered for before I started doing some serious walking to the North Manchester clubs, what a few days it had been and I was sure the welcome at clubs like Rochdale would be just as warm.

From the Emirates it was out of Manchester central to Oldham, a shortish walk. When I got there I had the fortune to meet the Manager Paul Dickov and what a pleasant experience that was. Dickov had a reputation on the pitch for being an unpleasant type and he always used to score at Fratton Park so he was particularly hated for that in PO4 but to my delight he couldnt have been nicer. Genuinely interested in my challenge he asked all sorts of quesions and signed my flag, me and my big mouth though almost spoilt it because I told him the last Manager to sign it was McInnes from Bristol City and they had endured a terrible run since!

“Dont say that!’ said Dickov but luckily we both laughed it off.

Another short afternoon walk took me to Rochdale and a chap called Ian was putting me up for a couple of nights at his home in Bury. Rochdale, Bury and Bolton are relatively close so I wasnt going to be clocking up too many miles again this week. When we visitied Rochdale the following morning Ian had secured a donation of £50 from the Rochdale Trust which was a nice surprise, we were shown round Spotlands by one of the only 3 staff that seemed to be working there, a lovely young lady called Leighanne. I felt sorry for her because the only way out to the stadium from her office went through some Gents loos!

Next stop a leisurely stroll to Bury which is a much larger town than Rochdale and I spent a nice afternoon chilling out in a pub before completing the walk to Gigg lane. Ian and I went to his local Duck Club, complete with Bowling Green, to watch the England friendly against Sweden with THAT Ibrahimovic goal and enjoyed a beer or two.

Forever Bury looked after me at Gigg Lane the next morning and gave me a good tour around the place, I also met an amazing ex-serviceman who had been severely wounded in Afghanistan in a mortar attack, it certainly put my efforts into perspective when you meet true heroes and the story of his bravery was astounding.

If you’d like to help visit www.soldierscharity.org which is a wonderful charity helping wounded servicemen, not as well known as Help for Heroes but just as vital.

Next Blog will be up soon, hope you enjoyed this one and if so please donate at www.justgiving.com/walkthe92

WWW.West Midlands

West Brom was shut on Sunday last.

Not surprising really seeing as they were in Newcastle playing and it had not been possible to setup me going with the Baggies fans to St James Park, probably for the best as it might have cost an arm and a leg even on an official coach. So as the rain came down and I took some pictures of the outside of the ground I took a chance and went to the Reception anyway. Inside was just one security guard but as it happened he was a lovely fella and, after hearing my tale, he locked the front doors and escorted me inside to take a few pictures of the inside of the ground. Top bloke.

From there it was about an 8 mile walk to Walsall, the rain was coming down harder but the walk was fairly straight forward. The Walsall Trust had kindly booked me into the Bescot Hotel right next door to the ground but just before I arrived I saw an iconic building that everyone that has ever driven the motorways around Birmingham has seen.

The RAC control building.

Of course you would have seen the Bescot as well, but I was particularly excited by walking past this iconic landmark. A chap called Steve Davies from the Walsall Trust had arranged to meet me at the Hotel in the evening and we had a good chat about Trust stuff and how things were going for our respective clubs. He was very honest and said that he did not se the Pompey Trust succeeding in the long term in returning Pompey to its former glories, I disagreed of course, but I guess a lot of other clubs fans perhaps share that view and will be watching with interest.

Walsall were very accomodating the next morning and I was onto my third W club in a row, Wolverhampton, which was just a few hours down the road from Walsall. I stayed in the Britannia Hotel, a famous Hotel in the town centre, but getting in wasn’t as straight forward as it should have been. I went to the Reception to ask if they could do a cheap room for me and the receptionist looked rather confused by my asking, but she phoned the Manager anyway who, after some thought, flatly refused. How very kind.

Undeterred I asked what the cheapest rate was and the answer was 40 quid, I enquired about the sign behind saying “Single rooms from £29″ and was told an unblievable answer “Oh thats online only, we cant do that on the desk”

So, slightly gobsmacked, I sat in reception and booked a room over the internet on my phone and returned to the receptionist with the booking number but still I had to wait another 60 minutes for the damn booking to arrive. What a farce.

That evening I spent a nice 3 hours in the Billy Wright bar in town nervously watching Pompey throw away a draw against Sheffield United, plus ca change.

I headed to Molyneux the next day and it being Half Term there was a kids event on so, despite me not previously being able to contact them, I announced myself at reception and was kindly helped out by the Supporters Liason Officer who got me photos with the mascots and allowed me in the stadium to get some great photos of the place.

Next stop Shrewsbury but on the way I was being put up by my best friends parents who are the most wonderful people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. They live in a lovely Shropshire village and over the next week they looked after me as I made my way around Shropshire.

Adrian and Marcus from the Shrews Trust had got in touch and both had agreed to meet me when I got near the town. The previous day I had walked to within 4 miles of the Town to a place callec Atcham, a great walk which took in the historic village of Ironbridge which, as the name suggests, has the very first Iron framed spanning bridge in the world and the local area is known as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution for the innovative Ironworks that had started there. So Adrian and Marcus met me at Atcham the next morning and whilst Marcus took photos alomg the route, Adrian and I walked to the new stadium, Greenhous Meadow, that Shrewsbury Town call home.

The club were very welcoming and delighted to see me, I was given a tour of the stadium which included the concourse areas that had recently been decorated with pictures and a great mural that was designed and painted by a local school to brighten up the normally drab concourse areas. This had been achieved with lots of help from the Shrews Trust, so yet another example of a fan organisation working well with its Club.

The club themselves also put me up in a nearby hotel and I was very much looking forward to attending an Ale festival in town that evening, but I was laid low by an upset stomach so stayed at the Hotel instead of sampling some of the local Beers. A real shame.

The next day I left the Hotel and started the trek to the Potteries, Marcus met me with his son and we had a good chat about Trust life. Shrewsbury had been one of the nicest places I have visited so far, this Walk is really starting to be enjoyable and as I head to Manchester I am sure the clubs and stories will come thick and fast.

Stay tuned.

I ain’t fraid of no Ghost

Its been an interesting few days, firstly in Coventry and then in Birmingham. The weather is definitely changing rapidly and the Autumn leaves are raining down wherever I go. I am not sure why but it seems only days since I noticed that the leaves were first changing colour and now they are dropping to provide me with a yellow and brown carpet as I walk, perhaps its always that quick or maybe the odd weather this year has contributed.

As I strolled through Coventry city centre on my way to the Ricoh stadium I was stopped by three young people with some sound recording equipment, they told me they were from the University studying Journalism and could they ask me a question. I agreed and thought to myself what matter of import could they want my opinion on? National topics or perhaps my insight into the Savile scandal or the US Elections? The question came….

Have you ever seen a Ghost?

I was speechless for a few seconds before guffawing a No. They then asked if I believed in Ghosts and I gave a lengthy answer about being an atheist therefore I didn’t believe in a spirit that perhaps could become a Ghost. The disappointment in their faces told me I wasn’t going to feature heavily in their work.

I had a great time in Coventry, the club themselves were very generous with their time and I was hosted for two nights by the Bond family. I discovered I am utter rubbish at FIFA13 even though I narrowly beat Harry over two legs, he let me play online and a 4-0 drubbing convinced me I should not play again without a lot of practice. Peter and Katrina treated me like one of their own, I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality.

That was mirrored when I got to Birmingham, Dave Farrell from the Blues Trust arranged for me to be hosted in the hotel around the corner from St Andrews and he and his lovely wife gave me dinner at their house before returning me back to my hotel room. It was a shame I didn’t get to see much of Birmingham City, they operate a 28 day policy for notification for charity requests, it seems that not every club has the time for common sense but with my usual wit and charm I asked to see someone from the Media department whilst I was at the club and he kindly took me pitchside and arranged for a promotional story. The club itself is in a bit of trouble and in limbo, the Blues Trust has a real challenge in trying to get fan involvement but with people like Dave driving it on I am sure that they will do good things in the coming months and years.

There isn’t a place in England or Wales that you can’t find a decent Pompey fan and Birmingham is no different, John Lish was my next host and we had many conversations about the state of the club, the Pompey Trust and football in general. I was due at Aston Villa on Saturday and they were playing Norwich at home in the lunch time SKY kickoff so I knew it would be difficult for the club to do much. My thanks go to Debbie Sly of the AVFC Community dept for securing me a complimentary match ticket. It was odd being a neutral at the game, I marvelled at the noise of the Norwich fans but was also quite shocked at how quiet and inert the Villa fans were. The side was struggling and the lack of support was quite shocking except at one point in the first half when, on the point of the 19th minute, all the Villa fans stood up and applauded for a full minute, this was in support of “Stan” who is the Villa player Stiliyan Petrov who is fighting leukemia. It was quite impressive to be honest and touching.

After the match I took a stroll across to West Bromwich to fulfil that part of the walk and in the evening John and I headed to a local curry house to enjoy a meal and more chat which was great fun as social evenings have been few and far between the last couple of months.

Next Blog will contain tales from West Brom, Walsall and Wolves, W tastic!

The Mountain and the Good Samaritan

Its been an eventful and rewarding weekend in South Wales and the Welsh hospitality has been absolutely heart warming. Sunday night was a particular highlight but more of that later in this Blog.

I made my way to Swansea via Barry and Bridgend with an overnight stopover in Port Talbot in the shadow of a mountain. I got to the Liberty stadium around mid afternoon on Friday and I was met by Alan Lewis who is on the Swans Trust board, he arranged an interview with Sky Sports News for me as they had been setup there to cover the Ospreys rugby game being held at the Liberty that evening. Sadly I don’t think it got broadcast so if anyone from Sky Sports is reading this I’d love to get some coverage from them to help with my fundraising.

Alan took me to Llanelli because I was being put up by a Swans fan, Peter Thomas, I must thank them both for their great hospitality and kindness shown to me, it makes this journey all the more rewarding to be looked after by Fans of the club I am visiting. The following day I had been invited to the Family Day at the stadium which was promoting the Centenary celebrations and also the launch of a new shirt range with six kits from years gone by. I had a great day joining in with the event and also meeting many of the Swans Trust board including Fan Director Huw Cooze who’s brains I picked on many subjects to do with my work with the Pompey Trust.

Swansea City also presented me with a signed football to raise funds for Prostate Cancer and I asked the Swans Trust to take it and use it at a future event to get the maximum amount of money for my cause, the Trust also gave a copy of their Centenary Book recording many fans memories of supporting Swansea City, a lovely present which I can’t wait to read.

And so to Sunday, I left the Liberty and headed towards the Heads of the Valley road to start the long route to Cheltenham, I stopped off at Aberdulais Falls and looked around a reconstructed Tin Plate factory which was very interesting and I recommend it if you are in the area. I took some advice from some National Trust people in the information centre and they sent me off to a campsite a few miles away and also said I could go across the the country and follow the old Roman road called Sarn Helen.

It didn’t go well.

The road was more like a rocky muddy stream and dragging my 5 stone pack up some steep slippery inclines was extremely hard work but as always when I finally got to the top, sweaty and knackered, there were some stunning views to be seen. But I hit a wired up gate at the top as well and with the weather looking grim I decided to head back down via another path.

So, 2 hours later I arrived pretty much back where I started and with nowhere safe to stay for the night. I headed on down the road hoping something would turn up and I came across an Inn, but when I went in and asked if they did accomodation the answer was a straight no. I ws pretty stuck, so I sat outside to have a rest and collect my thoughts about what to do next, as I was chcking the map to see how many miles I had to go and a possible place to stay a chap left the pub and asked me if I had sat outside a pub in a place called Skewen earlier that day, I said I had and noticed his dog sunning himself in the window. He quickly said that I should come with him back to the Pib and stay the night as he had a spare room, too tired to argue I agreed.

It was a great night, Kevin who was the good samaritan ran the Pub called the Travellers Well and not only did I not pay for a pint all night he even bought me a curry. The pub was full of what they called “Headers”, that may be either because they lived on the Heads of the Valleys or because they were all headcases, I am not sure I should comment. Everyone was very kind about my walk and interested about my reasons for doing it, so a disaster had been turned into a cracking night in a welsh boozer with generous people. All thanks to my Good Samaritan Kevin, cheers mate.

This morning one of the Barman called Wayne gave me a lift back up the road to continue my walk and he even treated me to a slap up brekkie as well, he only asked me one thing, he gave me a bracelet that he wore to commemorate a friend who did in Afghanistan from the 1st Queens Dragoon Guards.

I will wear it with honour as I continue my Walk, it continues to be eventful.

Sore shins in Somerset

Having to take another break was a tough decision but it seems to have paid off.

After visiting Exeter City last Friday I thought I would make headway to Yeovil before the predicted bad weather on Sunday, that meant I pushed hard 11 miles to Ottery St Mary which in the end turned out to be a mistake.

A mile outside Ottery my left leg started to get shooting pains in the shin, that fact was made worse by my having to walk around the town trying to find accommodation, but there wasn’t any to be found. I was told by one Landlord the village green was public land so off I went to set up the tent there and once it was all up I settled down to relax and listen to the radio. I also checked my phone email and one had just come in from a Plymouth Trust Board member called John, his parents lived in Ottery and he had mailed to say I could stay there and to meet him in the Kings Arms at 9pm.

So, after some thought I packed up the tent and went to the Pub, well you would, wouldn’t you. After a few pints and a good nights sleep I woke to a very swollen left shin. Eventually I was persuaded to get it checked out, ending up in Honiton hospital, where I was seen quickly and the Doctor diagnosed Shin Splints straight away, the only cure rest and anti-inflammatory pills. It made more sense to jump on a train back to Pompey than sit in a B&B for 3 nights, keeping an eye on my money is crucial.

Back to Exeter and last week, them being a Fan owned club was of great interest to me being involved in the Pompey Trust so when I met Roger and Jay from the Trust I was full of questions about their experience. I could have spent hours there but sadly after about 90 mins of chat and a tour of the club they had to leave. I thank the Exeter Trust for their excellent hospitality.

So after my enforced lay up, I headed straight to Yeovil Town on Tuesday. Unfortunately and also out of character I was a couple of hours late, I missed my connection at Salisbury and also decided when I arrived in Yeovil to secure digs before I headed to the club so I missed the Media chap who had gone with the Yeovil players to a Go-Carting afternoon. Being a football player is a charmed life, even at League One level it seems!

I returned this morning and met Adrian who showed me around Yeovil Town and I hope to return next Tuesday because Pompey will be playing there and Yeovil have said they could do some promotion during the game to raise money. Fingers crossed I can make it.

I write this latest entry on the way to Swindon, I walked 12 miles and have had no reaction from the shin splints so I am keeping my fingers crossed the next few days walking will be the same, it is made much easier by the flatter land in Somerset compared to the tortuous hills of the previous 150 miles.

After Swindon its onto Bristol and South Wales and that will be Leg 1 done, 450 miles and 12 clubs. It has been an amazing experience so far I am determined for it to continue and raise more money for Prostate Cancer UK. If you see me at Yeovil, please say hello.

Herding lairy sheep

I walked across Dartmoor.

A year ago I would never have believed you if you told me that I would walk all the way across one of the most famous parts of Britain, on my own and with a dirty great pack on my back.

I’m sure this walk will present me with personal milestones and challenges to complete that will test me, certainly I was daunted by the prospect of crossing the Moor intially but I needn’t have worried, it was one of the most enjoyable parts of the Walk so far. There are those dreaded hills of course, but once you make the climbs the scenery is absolutely breathtaking, I was again lucky with the weather which allowed me to see as far as I could when I was on top of some of the peaks.

It was a great experience.

On Monday I had a very enjoyable day at Plymouth Argyle, Ed from the Trust met me at the club and showed me around and we got some good pics inside the ground. I like Home Park, it has a lot of potential if the club can work its way back up the divisions. We walked across the bare terracing left when the club had to remove the temporary seating and it looks perfect for the “safe standing” system that has been demonstrated at a few clubs in England. It would be an ideal place for a trial if the Legal issues can be solved.

When I left Plymouth on Tuesday morning I used the old Plym railway walking path and it was a lovely way to make my way up to the Moor, you can see info on it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/outdoors/cycling/plym_valley.shtml You can actually walk through an old rail tunnel, which is a very weird experience.

After an excruciating climb up what seemed like a wall and not a road I emerged onto the Moor and made my way to the first village where my best mate Jim met me and we had lunch in a pub, it was nice to see him and a familiar face after 2 weeks on the road. Walking the roads is a solitary experience and contact with friends in any way is a nice boost to your morale, hopefully other friends will visit me on the long trip round the country.

Crossing the Moor was also fun due to the wildlife, the lairy sheep in particular. When you passed them grazing they just stood and stared, mid chew, eyeing you up and daring you to go nearer. Dartmoor is a national park, so the cattle and sheep roam free and walk and lie where they like and pay no attention to any cars that have to pick, their way round them. However they do stir when someone walks near to them but for me that caused a bit of a problem because these daft sheep ran out into the road or up it headlong into the path of cars. So, to avoid unintentional sheep genocide whenever I approached any sheep I tried to herd them before they shot off down the road!

So I definitely helped save some lairy sheep to live to chew another day.

I am now in Exeter and will visit St James Park on Friday morning, another ground I havn’t been too so I’m looking forward to the promised tour and talking to the Trust, their success may soon be emulated by the Pompey Supporters Trust and we should learn from how Exeter City have coped being entirely fan run.

Do a lot of walking do you?

“Do a lot of walking do you?”

Believe it or not these were the words uttered to me at the Plymouth branch of Go Outdoors today as I stood at the checkout waiting to pay for my new walking boots. As smalltalk goes this has to be one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard.

I was stood, pack on back, dressed head to toe in outdoor gear and sporting my new boots which I had already told him “Don’t box them, I’ll wear them.”

My reply was delivered with a puzzled chuckle “Yes, a bit. I’m walking the country for charity”. After paying the chap he then refused to push his brain into gear and asked if I’d like the box? “Not really” says I. “Perhaps I could make a hat out of it?” and with that I flashed a smile, grabbed my card and receipt and strode out of the store.

Honestly, there wasn’t a hint of irony!

I would like to thank Louise at the same store though, she patiently helped me pick out a new pair of boots that will hopefully last me several hundred miles or more. If I’m crippled its all her fault! Only kidding, thanks.

Its been a funny couple of days, after leaving Paignton I ended up in the village of Avonwick and the Avon Inn that kindly let me camp in their paddock. The following day the Paddock was to be used for a Strongest Man competition, exactly like the ones that seem to be scheduled for broadcast every Christmas. So I camped amongst a giant Tyre and barrels of different sizes. My thanks go to Gary and his wife for letting me stay and buy a few pints of Guinness.

Before I got to Avonwick though I passed through Totnes, a lovely town and my thanks go to Sally the landlady of the Lord Nelson for her donation and enthusiasm. As for Totnes itself it had a very odd hippy element, lots of glam older ladies looking like Edina out of Ab Fab and a whole host of mystical shops. Funny thing is, asking the locals no-one has so far explained why Totnes feels so out of place for a Devon town. Answers to walkthe92project@gmail.com please.

The following day was equally as eventful, for lunch I struggled up a hill at a village Ermington and fell into a pub called the Crooked Spire. I ordered a coke and was charged 3 quid! I then asked the landlord, who had a scottish accent, if they did food “No, not any more, we used to”. I was a bit pissed off for having climbed a hill for an expensive coke and no lunch, but as I took a seat the landlord spied my Pompey top and said “Pompey Fan then? So am I”

Those magic words.

There then followed a great 90 minutes of chat between Gary and myself about Pompey and my Walk, he even nipped upstairs to make me a ham sandwich and gave me a delicious home made pie to take with me. Cheers Gary! I know you’re reading. Top bloke.

But for every Ying there’s Yang. The campsite I was heading for was in a village called Brixton and when I arrived the Warden was wandering around in a bloody Saints shirt! One minute I’m happily chatting to a Pompey Fan and the next i’m faced with the enemy. Some good natured banter ensued though and he did let me pitch up for nothing, so well done Steve the scummer!

So, I’m now in Plymouth, I reached Home Park around 2pm. It was a struggle today, I had no legs in me for some reason, perhaps two nights with broken sleep under canvas. Hopefully 2 nights being hosted by Ed and his wife Barbara should get me up and going for a long walk across Dartmoor to Exeter. I’m a bit daunted by it to be honest but if I can get going early enough on Tuesday I should get well into the Moor by the evening.

I shall enjoy my visit to Home Park tomorrow, the Argyle Trust are good people and I am sure I’ll have a lot to thank them for.

See you on the other side of the Moor! I hope!