HE did it.
I’ve featured the story of football fan Ed Wood here before.
Last August he set out on a quest to break the world record he first set 25 years ago for going to a match at every league ground in England and Wales in the shortest possible time during a season.
And last Saturday just before 5pm at Rochdale he broke the record.
Well actually he smashed it.
The previous record was 237 days and Ed’s new record is 189 days.
It is an amazing achievement which has seen him take a four month sabbatical from his job with Lloyds Banking Group, travel 22,000 miles and spend thousands of pounds of his own money.
In the process he’s raised a lot of money for Prostate Cancer UK and met up with many old friends and made lots of new ones as he has traversed the country visiting 93 football grounds – the 92 grounds in the Premier League and Football League plus Berwick Rangers’ ground, which is in England even though they play in the Scottish league.
I was fortunate to join him at two of the matches, the first at Rotherham and the second at Derby County, the club we both support, when they beat bitter rivals Nottingham Forest 3-0 last December.
It was memorable for more than just the win – it was probably the last time Derby played well, but that’s our problem.
At Rochdale on Saturday Ed, a self-confessed statto who created spreadsheets and algorithms to help his quest, was joined by more than 30 friends, family and supporters, including a chap called Bob Wilson who set the original Guinness World Record for the “most peripatetic fan” in 1968-9 at 264 days.
Guinness World Records sent their man Doug Male to present Ed with his certificate on the pitch and he has been interviewed on Five Live and numerous local stations as well as big pieces in the Guardian last Saturday and The Times on Monday.
When I called in to his home to wish him well ahead of the final match on Saturday morning I met his girlfriend Sam for the first time.
It was thanks to Sam’s support that Ed was able to set off on his eccentric quest.
Although when I arrived on Saturday he was at pains to explain to her some lines from the Guardian article.
It quoted him as saying: “To be fair to her, she’s not kicked off. We’ve had three big arguments, but that’s probably less than normal because I’m never there to argue with her.”
“That’s a great line,” I said with my journalist hat on.
“But I didn’t say it,” Ed said sheepishly, putting his arm around the long suffering Sam.
What he probably also hasn’t said is that he fancies doing the quest again in another quarter of a century when he’s 75.
Just don’t tell Sam.
THERE can’t be many restaurateurs from Yorkshire with the experience of Martin Pickles.
The one-time manager of London’s iconic Langan’s Brasserie, Martin returned to Yorkshire to buy the Flying Pizza in Roundhay and since leaving there has been at the historic Garrick Club.
But he always kept his home near Harrogate and has now returned to Leeds to support an exciting new venture called Convive.
This new restaurant is at Weetwood Hall Hotel and is owned, like the hotel, by the University of Leeds.
Run by Martin Hicks, Convive serves up Mediterranean food in bright, inviting surroundings and certainly provided a warm welcome to guests at its launch this week.
The bonus is that any profits it makes will go directly to the University of Leeds.
Martin Pickles is acting as an ambassador for the restaurant and he’d certainly been busy thumbing through his black book of contacts for the launch.
I saw plenty of faces that once frequented the Flying Pizza.
And, reassuringly for any plastic surgeons in the room, the attendance didn’t seem to support recent findings that there has been a 40% drop in the number of people having cosmetic surgery in the UK.
WHO says accountants aren’t interesting?
I was toasting them to the rooftops after Ilkley Beer Festival thanks to an invitation from Graham Pearce, the KPMG partner who leads the firm’s technology, media and telecoms team in the North of England.
Outside work Graham owns a beer shop on the main road into Ilkley called Fuggle & Golding.
For real ale fans it is a veritable Aladdin’s cave featuring 300 different beers from 100 breweries and even serves beer on tap, which customers can take out in retro bottles with old fashioned stoppers.
It seemed an appropriate place to debate the digital strategy that must be implemented by the Northern Powerhouse.
Well that’s what I’m told we talked about.
IT was back on the beer festival circuit last Friday at Boston Spa.
The pretty Yorkshire town full of Georgian stone buildings hosts a real ale event which is smaller and more sedate than that of Ilkley, but equally fun.
I was a guest of Jonathan Hirst of recruitment firm Network Marketing.
I commented to Jonathan that the organisers do make attendees feel very welcome.
“Bunting,” he replied.
“It was only my opinion,” I responded.
“No, the bunting they’ve put up is not really up to scratch again this year,” said Jonathan earnestly.
I wandered off to grab a Quirky Blonde.
THE new BBC TV series SS:GB is based on a Len Deighton novel which imagines a world in which the Nazis successfully invaded Britain during the Second World War.
This nightmare scenario has also been explored by Robert Harris in his excellent book Fatherland and, more recently in the Amazon Prime series The Man In The High Castle.
In SS:GB the Germans have conquered the south of Britain but are experiencing resistance in the north, apparently getting as far as Huddersfield.
The natives have always been restless up there.
The irony is that they are currently very excitable – thanks to a German.
David Wagner is doing a great job on a limited budget at Huddersfield Town.
He might look like a social worker and sound like Herr Lipp, the German teacher in The League of Gentlemen, but he’s got the Terriers to third in the Championship, just five points off the top of the table and looking like strong contenders for promotion to the Premier League with 14 matches to go.
As they say in Huddersfield these days.
Have a great weekend.