It sounds like Groundhog Day and this whirlwind footballing weekend starts in Golcar.
Groundhop UK is when the most committed of grassroots football fans descend on an area for a hardcore feast of football.
On the weekend of March 4, 5 and 6 Groundhop UK supporters will descend on the North West Counties League to watch no fewer than seven matches in just 72 hours, starting at Golcar United on the Friday night.
Golcar’s home game against Campion (7.45) will kick off the weekend but then on the Saturday the ardent watchers will take in four matches at different grounds, and will be bussed between them.
Groundhop UK has been giving fans a chance to taste non-league football for the past 21 years.
These most dedicated of football fans come from around the country and book a package which includes tickets to seven matches, transport to and from each ground and B&B at a local hotel, all for just £245. Of course, you could just pick and choose which games to see but where’s the fun in that?
Groundhop UK managing director Chris Berezai is delighted with the latest Groundhop event and said: “Non-league football is having a bit of a boom at the minute.
“People are tired of paying ridiculous prices to go and watch their team. They have found the lower leagues a different experience. We have been doing these groundhops for the last 21 years and they have always gone down well and provide lots of income for clubs.
“We have done these events in the South of England, Wales and up in Scotland. We have done the North West Counties four times now and each time it’s been good.
“We have a good relationship with the league. We have also hopefully struck up a good relationship with Huddersfield coach company Stotts. We haven’t used them before but I have heard good things
“Around 90% of people who have been on a Groundhop before usually return. We hired a 55-seater coach and eight of those seats will be filled by new groundhoppers which is excellent.
“Overall we are excited for the event which is our first big one of the year. We last did these divisions before the pandemic and saw a rise in uptake for tickets and we are seeing an even bigger rise this time around.
“I urge people to book their tickets for games. The coach trip is now booked up and so if anyone wants a B&B room I’d have to speak with the hotel but I urge people to buy tickets in advance. This promises to be a very exciting weekend of football action, so plan ahead.”
Peter Gledhill, chairman of Golcar United, is excited to kick off the groundhoppers’ weekend and said: “These people are unbelievable enthusiasts.
“They come from all around the country, even as far away as Dover, and we look forward to welcoming them to Golcar.”
The fixtures are: Golcar United v Campion (1st North), Friday March, 4 (7.45); Bacup Borough v St Helens Town (1st North), Saturday March 5 (11.00); Padiham v Ashton Athletic (Premier), Saturday March 5 (2.00); Nelson v Chadderton (1st North), Saturday March 5, (4.45); Barnoldswick Town v Avro (Premier), Saturday March 5 (7.30); Steeton v Ashton Town (1st North), Sunday March 6 (11.30); and Ilkley Town v Garstang (1st North, Sunday March 6 (2.30).
Below are some photos from the previous Groundhop weekend in the North West Counties. The images are courtesy of Laurence Reade.