Meet the man who's visited every English football pitch in the shortest time
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The full-time whistle at Rochdale Football Club’s Spotland stadium on Saturday 18th February 2017 marked more than just the conclusion to an English League One game.
Wood now stands as the person who has attended a match at each of England’s 92 grounds in the shortest time possible. One year on, reflecting on his journey, one image stands out: Collecting the award from World Record adjudicator Mark McKinley on the pitch at Rochdale, the journey complete.
“I live in Leeds, it’s not that far from [Rochdale] so I had about 30 people turn up and support me on the day. I was on the pitch before the game. It was a really special end for me.”
It’s a record that has been central to Wood’s life throughout. When he received the Guinness World Record book for Christmas aged 10, it was something that instantly stood out and one which he remembered throughout his teenage life. Wood took the plunge 15 years later.
“I hitchhiked to grounds for the first month and then I passed my driving test and did the rest of it. There was no publicity at all, I was a quiet person, quite shy. It was just something I wanted to do, and I did it.”
Wood’s original record success was soon beaten, and he was inspired to go again. Publicity proved vital for Wood’s second successful attempt as he attempted to raise money for Prostate Cancer. Over £13,000 has been raised on Wood’s Just Giving page since the challenge began, something that he describes, grinning from ear to ear, as a “proud” moment.
It took Wood a while to decide on whether he was going to do it for charity and then which one to use, until settling on a foundation close to football’s heart.
“Someone said ‘why not use Prostate Cancer, they are associated with football and will help you’. I went to them and they were very supportive. They did everything they could to raise my profile so I could raise more money for them. It was a good experience overall.”
Wood smiles again as he confidently lists off the experiences he has been part of while on his journey. Dizzy penalty challenges, on pitch presentations, Wood has lived and breathed the game alongside the supporters on the terraces that make England’s ‘92’ so revered around the globe.
“The best game I saw was Spurs against Chelsea, the bloke there, who I’d never met before, gave me his ticket free, his dad was suffering from prostate cancer.
“I met some people from prostate cancer afterwards. That was probably my best game.”
Although, despite all the grounds and moments along the way, Wood can still remember the game that kicked off the passion for the sport that became his life while completing the challenge.
“Derby played Real Madrid. My dad took me out of school as it was an evening match. Derby won 4-1. I can remember that now, being there for that night, seeing Real Madrid, the great team.
“It’s probably gone downhill since then.”
Main Image shows Ed Wood (left) with Guinness World Record adjudicator Mark McKinley. Above image shows Wood raising money for Prostate Cancer.