Charity goal for fans’ pilgrimage

Ian Billington (left) and Graham Smith outside Sunderland's Stadium of Light - No 7 on their list of 92 grounds
Ian Billington (left) and Graham Smith outside Sunderland's Stadium of Light - No 7 on their list of 92 grounds
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Football fans Ian Billington and Graham Smith have set themselves an ambitious goal of visiting all 92 league grounds in just 92 hours.

The pair kicked off their trek around England and Wales before dawn yesterday at Preston North End’s stadium.

And they hope to arrive back at Deepdale in the early hours of Tuesday having completed a 2,300-mile marathon in aid of two local charities.

“People might think we’re daft, but we think it’s do-able,” said Ian, 31. “We’ve done a lot of planning and, fingers crossed, it should go according to schedule. I just hope we don’t come across many roadworks and traffic hold-ups.”

The lads are workmates at the Arnold Clark Renault dealership in Preston. And their bosses have provided a brand new Scenic with fuel for the trip. They hit the road at 6am from Deepdale, driving over to Blackpool, then up the coast to Fleetwood and then Morecambe.

The planned route is a clockwise journey, continuing to Carlisle and then across to the North East. They were already posing for a photograph outside Newcastle’s St James’s Park before midday, the sixth ground on their list.

They have a fundraising target of £4,000 divided between St Catherine’s Hospice and Cash For Kids. “We’re hoping to have reached 41 clubs by tonight,” added Ian.

“It’ll be tough. We’re sleeping in the car and buying food along the way. We have done our homework and we’ve got a route worked out. We’re both keen football fans, although neither of us have been to most of these grounds before. So it’s going to be great seeing them all and having our photos taken outside.”