A FOOTBALL mad Worcester schoolboy has visited every Premiership ground in the country and met some of the beautiful game's biggest stars during an epic adventure with his grandad.
Man City fan Jake Pollard, aged 10, of Northwick, Worcester, Worcester has completed the first part of the sporting odyssey, visiting the 20 grounds of every team currently in the Premiership. But Jake, a pupil of St Georges C of E Primary School, is not finished yet. He wants to visit all 92 football league grounds in the four major English Divisions - the Barclays Premier League is only the beginning. It has also been a constant battle to keep their tick list up-to-date and keep pace with the changing face of the league tables in light of those clubs which are relegated or promoted at the end of each season.
The adventure began three years ago when Jake and his grandad came up with the idea, starting with a visit to West Brom's ground, The Hawthorns on Saturday, October 29, 2011 for a fixture between the Baggies and Liverpool.
Games at Old Trafford Manchester, Stamford Bridge in London and St James Park in Newcastle followed with Jake completing the full list of 2013/2014 Premier League grounds with a visit to the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday, February 15 this year for a 5th Round FA Cup Tie between Cardiff City and FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic.
Jake also attended Premier League fixtures at Reading, Wigan Athletic and Wolves prior to these clubs being relegated to the Championship. He met former England star Emile Heskey at Villa Park, Stephen Warnock at Villa Park and Dave Whelan, chairman of FA cup holders Wigan Athletic at DW Stadium.
Jake now plans to visit all clubs in the Championship during the forthcoming 2014/2015 season and has already ticked off six out of 24 grounds.
Jake's grandad, Brian Hemstock, a sales and marketing director at Froude Hofmann Limited, based in Blackpole, Worcester, said they were a football family.
The Yorkshireman was a pro, playing as a centre forward for Doncaster, Barnsley and Bradford Park Avenue while his son, Jake’s uncle, Kieran, played for Worcester City in the mid-1990s and was capped by England Schoolboys.
Mr Hemstock said the trip grew out of Jake's fascination with motorways and motorway junctions and they decided together to combine it into a tour of the grounds. He said: "It has been a fantastic experience. The process of getting the tickets has been an exciting thing for us to do together. It has been very nostalgic for me. We are a footballing family. Jake is very passionate about football and he has met some of the stars although it is hard to get near them." It had been difficult to by tickets and often they had to become members of the various clubs first. They have had to use several methods to get to the grounds, including the car and the tube. He said it had taken a lot of strategy and planning on their joint adventure.