AN Accrington football fanatic has completed a unique achievement - having watched his side run out at all 92 league grounds.
Burnley fan Tony Yates, of Bold Street, has travelled all over the country watching the Clarets since 1978, and he realised last year that he had just three stadiums left to visit.
Two of those - Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and Arsenal’s Emirates - were chalked off last season in cup competitions, leaving just Everton’s Goodison Park to visit this campaign - following Burnley’s promotion.
Tony, 43, said: "My mum and dad both had season tickets at Blackburn Rovers but I’m glad I made the choice I did. We haven’t played at Everton since 1973 as we’ve never drawn them away in any cup games. That literally was the first opportunity I’ve had to see them there."
Tony, who helps run the coaches for the Accy Clarets supporters group, has counted the 92 clubs that were in the Football League when he started in 1978 - but he has visited many other clubs that have since folded or been relegated out of the league. And he acknowledges that the Clarets’ ‘yoyo’ fortunes during his lifetime have contributed to the feat.
He vividly remembers the Clarets being half an hour away from going out of the Football League in 1987 and he also recalls fondly a trip to Fulham in September 2000.
He said: "We played on a Tuesday night when the petrol strike was on. A mate and me drove down knowing that we didn’t have enough petrol to get home. We took sleeping bags with us, but purely by chance we stumbled on a petrol station that was open in the centre of Oxford and managed to get home."
Phil Miller, of Accrington Clarets, said: "I’ve been following the Clarets since the 1970s and I think I’ve done about 80-odd grounds now.
"What Tony has done is a magnificent achievement and testament to a lot of hard work and effort and sometimes not getting the best result either. He has done a lot of travelling and had a lot of heartache and probably a long suffering wife as well!"
Tony and wife Pam foster sons Alex, 11, and Dan, four, and all of them have caught the Burnley bug.
But he confessed to being underwhelmed by new managerial appointment Brian Laws.
He said: "He has never really done great things anywhere and I suspect he has been signed so they don’t have to pay compensation and he has agreed to work within a tight budget."