With Easter approaching it signals not just the arrival of nice weather, chocolate eggs and the Easter Bunny, for us here at the Hallmark Security League it is the arrival of the long awaited Ground-Hop.
Over Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday twelve clubs will take part in six full league fixtures over the two days with kick offs staggered between the games. The games will be attended by a mix of regulars and the Ground-Hop Community who are supporters of the game who visit different grounds around the Country and beyond, ticking them off as they go around experiencing a game at each.
The Easter Sunday Fixtures are:
Ashton Athletic Vs Squires Gate – 1130am Kick Off (Brocstedes Park)
Ashton Town Vs Stockport Town – 230pm Kick Off (The Ashton Town Stadium)
Runcorn Town Vs Barnton – 630pm Kick Off (Pavilions)
And Bank Holiday Monday:
Atherton Collieries vs AFC Darwen – 11am (The Kensite Stadium)
West Didsbury & Chorlton Vs Congleton Town – 245pm Kick Off (The Recreation Ground)
Maine Road Vs Abbey Hey 545pm Kick Off (Brantingham Road)
As you will see, the times of the kick off allow the Ground-Hoppers time to watch the game then make their way to the next ground in time to grab something to eat and drink ahead of the next game. There are also expected to be a number of casuals who turn up on the day and follow the games around too so we are hoping for good attendances as well as some great football – Some sunshine would be handy too!
Ground-Hops have been around for a number of years, however for one reason or another the Hops have never visited the North West Counties League since our 1982 formation and it was something that we were conscious of. In Development Plan Discussions 18 months ago the idea was put to a small discussion group and was added to our Development Plan at the time as part of our direction towards increasing fan engagement.
League Development Officer, Gary Langley then contacted Groundhop UK, a private supporters organisation who are the market leaders in this field and a few months later after a number of emails and calls Gary headed down to Tamworth to meet up with Chris Berezai, Director of GHUK and the hop was discussed and agreed.
It has taken a while to get the hop sorted as both parties adapted to how these things work and the various expectations from Clubs, Hoppers and League alike but we think we are ready to have a great weekend of football.
The Home clubs have all been informed of what is to be expected and we are hoping that both the home and away sides will have ample opportunities to offer merchandise to all at the game, not just the hoppers. Logistics have been planned between the clubs and the GHUK organisation so that food at the game can be varied a wee bit and League Results Co-Ordinator, Martin Fallon who has also played a key role in getting this over the line is going to clock up just under 100 motorway miles later this week in collecting nigh on 1000 programmes from Clubs to drop to GHUK as part of a pack that they get as part of their booked packages.
From a league perspective we are looking forward to a busy weekend of football with hopefully good numbers in attendance. We are hoping that the clubs have a busy and prosperous weekend whilst the hoppers, supporters and casuals that follow the games around have a great experience at the grounds. We know that all clubs taking part this weekend will offer warm welcomes and great hospitality to our visitors and we wish everyone taking part a happy and safe visit.