Only one day off and I’m back on the road, whilst most people were struggling with hangovers and cranberry sauce poisoning I was headed toward Bradford and the half way point. For the next two nights I was being hosted by Charles Jenkins, a Trust member and all round good guy who lives near Ilkley, he was also joining me on the 2nd day and the walk into Bradford itself. On Boxing day I walked from Ripley to a village called Beckwithshaw where Charles picked me up and then returned me the next morning. Luckily I didn’t have my pack because once I’d reached a place called Pool it the road ascended a muderously steep bank whilst it climbed up to a plateau where the Leeds-Bradford airport was sited, the highest in the UK. No shit says I, the climb almost bloody killed me.
Charles and I walked into Bradford when he joined me near a place called little London and after the horrible climb at Pool I was greatful that the majority of the next few miles were downhill apart from one long climb into Bradford itself, it had been a long day but having company for part of the journey always helps.
I had a fab tour of Bradford and as you would expect prior to their League Cup semi final against Aston Villa and the ticket queue for their home leg was long with lots of smiley faces in it even at 10 in the morning. Mike Thompson of the Bradford City Trust took me round the club and also escorted me into town to look at the Bradford fire memorial that had been donated by the twin German town of Hamm, it was a beautiful piece set in the new town square.
I tackled the two large climbs to Huddersfield that afternoon and arrived at my guest house digs just before 4pm, they were kindly being provided by Robert Pepper who is involved in the Terriers fan organisations and also very active in Supporters Direct. The match the following day saw Huddersfield vs Sheffield Weds and Robert picked me up to take me to the Gas Club to meet some colleagues of his and have a pre match pint. One Terrier fan I met was actor Reece Dinsdale who wished me well and subsequently also made a donation, we picked up our tickets and I was able to go pitch side and take some photos before the game, it was a poor 0-0 draw in the end livened up only by several smoke bombs let off by the Wednesday fans.
That evening Robert took me to a local country pub for dinner and we discussed Trust work and the state of SD and some of the findings of my walk and talks with many Trusts around the country.
And so, to end the year of 2012 I was headed to Leeds where I would spend New Years Eve in a Hotel near Elland Road, for the first time in days I had a walk that was fairly flat and I was very grateful for that, it took about 5 hours and I was safely holed up in my hotel base for the next three days. The following day I met a chap called Paul from the LUFC Trust who took the tour of Elland Road with me, he had good memories of Pompey having worked there many years ago for the church. He lived above the Shepherds Crook!
Elland Road is a big old stadium, it features something that is unusual so far on my walk, a statue that has been coloured in, the Billy Bremner tribute looks very odd to me with its rusty white kit and bright orange hair and a tatty scarf hanging from one arm. It was another new ground for me though and I would be back the next day to see Leeds take on Bolton, the third time I had seen the Lancashire club.
Leeds had kindly put me on an tour on New Years day but I decided a lie in would be better for me as I was feeling really jaded the last few days. I briefly met Paul and his son before I collected my ticket and headed in, it was right behind the dugout so I had a great view of Colin Wanker as he did his nut on a regular basis. Leeds were very fortunate to pull off a single goal win from a soft penalty but it meant that I had finally seen a home win on my travels.
A two day trek to York awaited me as my first bout of walking in 2013, I had a stop in Tadcaster overnight first, it is the home of a few breweries, notably John Smiths and Sam Smiths, the latter being a particular favourite of mine for their excellent stout. I stayed in a Sam Smiths hotel which was really the only place to stay in this picturesque town.
I was pleased that York had won the playoffs from the Confence, they were a Trust invovled club and the alternative was Luton and with all due respect a day spent walking through the historic city of York had to be miles better. I wasn’t disappointed, the City is steeped with thousands of years of history and the Minster has to be seen to believed, it is huge!
Once again a complete stranger was helping me in York, Stuart and his girlfriend Chloe were putting me up for a couple of nights, Stuart being a friend of my mate Duncan who he met on an overseas Cricket tour. We both went to York city the following morning and were quite disappointed with the reception we had got, I had already been told on the phone a whole list of things the club couldnt do for me but I expected a slightly better attitude when I arrived. I was in and out in 20mins with the groundsman taking us in to the ground to take some pictures. For a Trust based club and looking to involve the community the reception for me was the poorest so far, which is a shame.
Still, I saw much more of York on my way out that afternoon onto a place called Pocklington to cut down the miles I had to walk the following two days to my next club destination of Hull City. The countryside north of the Humber was very picturesque and the weather was cold and crisp in the Sunday I arrived at West Park and the KC Stadium, I was pleasantly surprised by a chap who stopped me as I arrived, he had passed me on the road and had also heard me on Radio Humberside a couple of days before. I was eventually met by Chris from the Hull City Official Supporters club who were looking after me for the next couple of days, he took me to the hotel a few miles out of town they had laid on.
He picked me up the next morning to visit the KC and I was given a great tour by the staff there, the Hull OSC have a really good relationship with the club and despite not being a Trust they seek to help the club treat their fans better and it seems to be working.
Next Blog will see me cross the Humber Bridge and back into Yorkshire. Bye for now.