A football fan is travelling the globe to reach his life’s mission of visiting every stadium in the world.
Lewis Millington’s hobby has taken him to more than 120 football grounds across the world, from Japan to Canada, Malta and Dulwich, southeast London. The geography teacher, 31, started his mission in his hometown of Redditch, Worcestershire.
Lewis travels with his wife Clare and makes sure there’s time for a match at the local ground as well as to review the local pub, alongside checking out the food at the ground and collecting pin badges of the club crests. He said: “I’ve always had a desire to explore and travel, and after I discovered the non-league football grounds, it became a bit of a mission to visit them all.
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“As I got older, my desire for wanderlust expanded and as I became a bit more financially mobile, I ended up wanting to travel to random backwaters of the UK to watch football, and more recently football abroad.
“Outside of the UK I’ve been lucky to watch football in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Denmark, Germany and Malta. My top pick was Kyoto Sanga in Japan. The welcoming nature of their fans blew me away as they bought myself and my wife a scarf to welcome us into the ultras section and their fan culture was so passionate.
“All groundhoppers have their own little routines, my personal one is to visit the local pub, review the pre match pints, make sure I check out the food available at the grounds and pick up one of the pin badges of the clubs crests to add to my collection as little token from my trip there.
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“I’ve also been very handy with my travel expenses by making use of car shares and with my role of being on the Porchester committee a lot of my away games I get in for free. Travelling abroad for matches is a different situation as we usually choose a holiday destination and then I’ll look for the local football ground to have another great experience.”
Lewis, from Porchester, Portsmouth, has gathered some brilliant experiences from his time ground hopping, from crazy atmospheres to old run down stadiums riddled with history – and he shares his travels with fans on social media.
“Craziest match day has to have been Toronto FC vs Philadelphia Union back in 2017, after being in the fan pub we turned a corner on our way to the ground and were instantly swept into a wave of ultras with flares and air horns, who took to us quite well and we had quite the match day experience with them.
“I think Dalymount Park in Dublin, the home of Bohemians FC, was one of my most surprising, some may say it looks decrepit with its abandoned terraces populated with weeds and the ominous brutalist tower that keeps watch over the stadium in the far corner. However if you are a groundhopper this is part of the magic!
“Dalymount also housed a Bob Marley concert, which is commemorated by some colourful graffiti art in the ground. I’ve been to 122 football grounds in my life, and hands down the best food I’ve ever had at a football ground was at East Harling town in Norfolk where we got some outrageous halloumi tacos.
“The first match I ever went to was Manchester United against Boca Juniors in 2002 at Old Trafford in a pre season friendly.”
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