Paul joins exclusive club as he visits every league stadium in England AND Scotland
Tuesday 31st July 2018 @ 13:56 by Tom Greggan
Denton & Audenshaw News Sports Tameside

For even the most avid football fans, Inverness’ 2-0 win over Cove Rangers on June 14th would barely have registered.

But for one Audenshaw man, the Betfred Cup clash was the culmination of an adventure spanning four decades that has taken him the length and breadth of the country.

Paul Dyson’s 756-mile round trip to the Caledonian Stadium means he’s now visited all 134 Football League stadiums in England and Scotland. He completed the milestone with friend Tony Preston, who was also celebrating the same achievement. After writing to Inverness before hand, the club’s Commercial Manager Jim Oliver helped them both to mark the occasion in style.

Paul said: “They took us in the boardroom for something to eat and drink and couldn’t have been more friendly. The spokesperson for Inverness introduced Tony and I and said what we’d done and everyone started clapping. It was brilliant.”

Paul’s passion for football, and in particular his beloved Manchester City, runs in the family. His uncle, Jack Dyson, famously played for both City and Lancashire CCC, scoring in City’s 1956 FA Cup Final win over Birmingham, a game famous for goalkeeper Bert Trautmann playing the last 17 minutes with a broken neck.

It was Uncle Jack who took a young Paul to his first ever game at Maine Road in 1964. Paul’s love of City flourished in 1979 when he stopped playing football and started following the club home and away.

A concerted effort to join the ’92 club’ began around a year later with his father-in-law, Brian Smith, and the Droylsden Reporter even covered their journey in April 1983!

The first milestone was completed with a trip to Watford’s Vicarage Road on February 3rd 1986, for City’s 0-0 draw in an FA Cup Fourth Round replay.

Paul’s mission was featured in the Droylsden Reporter back in April 1983. He’s pictured alongside father-in-law Brian Smith.

“When I think about standout games, the last one at Watford, to complete the 92 springs to mind,” Paul said. “But I got looked after by Leicester at the one before that. I was in the programme and met Alan Birchenall. I was there for a couple of hours and there was a bloke called Jack Curtis who was absolutely brilliant. But then, it’s achievement when you get to the last one.”

While following City for over 40 years has thrown him many ups and downs- from relegations against Luton and Stoke to the last-gasp title win in 2012- Paul has seen his fair share of thrillers on his travels, sometimes in the most unlikeliest of places!

“I saw Leyton Orient get promoted at Oxford’s new ground,” he said. “I had to sit with the Leyton Orient supporters in the away end and they won 3-2.

“I also saw a cracking game once at Rushden & Diamonds. It was a local derby vs Northampton and Billy Sharp scored the winner for Rushden, 3-2 last minute.”

Paul at the Bernabeu

Despite now joining the exclusive ‘134 club’, Paul has visited a lot more stadiums than that, including both the old and new Wembley, which aren’t included on the list.

He added: “Because of promotion and relegation, I’ve been to 20 grounds at clubs who are no longer in the league, and I’ve and 32 ‘new’ grounds when teams have moved.

“I’ve done quite a few non-league grounds, and around 25 in Europe on top of that. When a new team comes into the league, or someone moves to a new stadium, I try and do it as much as soon as possible. But it all revolves around City, which is why it’s taken so long to do the Scottish ones.

“There are three times I’ve managed to go through a whole season without missing a City game and on each occasion, we’ve won the league! How uncanny is that? They are the only times I’ve managed to complete a whole season.”

Of the hundreds of stadiums he’s seen, Paul cites Real Madrid’s iconic Santiago Bernabeu as the best, but closer to home, he does have a penchant for Villa Park, due to City’s impressive winning record there!

And while he’s racked up countless miles following the boys in blue, Paul’s latest trip was his biggest yet! He recently returned from New York City, where he watched Manchester City’s pre-season friendly against Liverpool at the Metlife Stadium!

 

(Top image, from left to right: Hearts manager Craig Levein, Inverness commercial manager Jim Oliver, Tony Preston and Paul Dyson)