Idea of Football Pilgrimage

Updated: Nov 23, 2019

Yesterday, I was rambling around my neighbourhood, Highbury with a sense of slight frustration. I went to Brazil World Cup and Sochi Olympics as a part of big broadcasting team in 2014, but somehow it didn’t give me enough sense of achievement. In fact it’s been a few years since I last felt really satisfied with what I have achieved in the year. When I was younger, I always had some goals and somehow felt like I managed to achieve them all. But as you get older, maybe because your goals tend to be set higher or you get stricter to yourself, isn’t it a little more difficult to feel you live fully?

As I walked passed The Gunners, the famous Arsenal fan’s public house which I covered in my TV report sometime ago, the words of the pub owner suddenly came back to me. ‘Football is religion.’ It was the story that the painting of Arsenal legend on the ceiling at Gunners is as valued as the Last Judgement at the Sistine Chapel. Then I came up with this idea, why don’t I go and visit all the English football clubs like a pilgrim?

On the way to the New Year celebration party, I asked my boyfriend. ‘How many English football clubs are there?’ ‘Ninety two, I suppose’ he said. ‘Is that all?’ ‘Well, it includes Premier League, Championship, League one and two.’ I was excited! Ninety two is an absolutely doable number. OK, I am going to visit 92 English Footbal Clubs! Well, but to be honest, I have a job, so 1-club-in-every-4-days is a bit too much. And I want to take reasonable time for each visit. So here is the deal, I will visit 92 clubs by the end of 2016. And hopefully it will give me a great sense of achievement.

I worked out the map of 92 English football clubs. Logistic is always important and comes first for me. Football clubs literally everywhere in the country, that is amazing. At least 27 clubs are in a day-trip distance, I now feel slightly relieved as well. You can travel all different parts of England following this pilgrimage route.

(Different colours represent top four different tiers of English football.)

My football ground visit has actually started back in 2010 in a rather professional context. Covering many side storeis of Premier League for a sports magazine show, I met amazing local people with full of football passion and knowlege, and through my visits to various clubs, I started understanding their life is deeply rooted in football.

I think I know my trip to these clubs will be something to discover the life of English people, not just to watch every single football game. As a girl who came from far East, my fascination about English football always remains in how much it means to the people here in England.

#FootballPilgrimage | London UK       © 2020 YUKO SUZUKI    

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