Keith clocks up 100 grounds of football misery

Keith Bridge with daughter Jessica
Keith Bridge with daughter Jessica
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THE team might not have won but here’s one Wednesday fan who was celebrating at the weekend.

THE team might not have won but here’s one Wednesday fan who was celebrating at the weekend.

For Keith Bridge – a lifelong Owls fanatic – the away trip to Dagenham & Redbridge marked the 100th stadium he has been to while supporting the club.

“I reckon I’ve spent about £40,000 going to watch a team that almost never fails to make me miserable,” says the 56-year-old. “But don’t print that figure – I don’t think my wife Jakki has ever thought about it. I reckon if she did I’d be in trouble.”

It’s taken the pharmaceutical worker 45 years to clock the landmark – a journey which first started when, as an 11-year-old, he went to Hillsborough to see the team take on Man Utd on January 29 1966. It was a 0 – 0 draw.

“I loved it,” says Keith. “A neighbour took me and it was just incredible. I knew straight away it was for me. By the time I was in my late teens I was going to every match – I’ve always loved the atmosphere at away games though. It’s superb.”

His favourite ground, other than Hillsborough of course, is Old Trafford. His worst is Bramall Lane (“for obvious reasons”) and his most memorable away day was – look away now United fans – Wembley for the 1993 FA Cup semi-final where Wednesday beat the Blades 2-1.

“A perfect, day,” notes Keith. He’s had a few less than perfect ones, though. But as a Wednesday fan you get use to that,” says Chris who grew up in Ridgeway and Frecheville but now lives in Northampton. “They’ve only won one proper trophy in those 45 years – a League Cup in 1991.”

If the footy has been bad, the journeys have often been worse – not least the New Year’s Day some 20 years ago when returning alone from a dour match in Carlisle, Keith’s car broke down.

“It was freezing and I couldn’t get a mechanic,” he says. “I made it home about 4am on January 2.”

He also remembers less than fondly the travel company which would take fans to away games in the 1970s – it was called Sheffield United Tours.

The team’s return to the third tier of English football meant this season he has been to four new grounds - Dagenham & Redbridge, Yeovil and Rochdale - as well as to Southport in the cup.

He will visit his 101st for the penultimate fixture of the season with a trip to Bristol Rovers Memorial Stadium.

And a silver-lining if the struggling side are relegated? There will be a handful more to add to his list next season.

“That’s not a silver-lining,” he says. “The only silver lining about this season is United are struggling too.”

He’s even passed the bug on to 22-year-old daughter Jessica, a student at Hallam University, who is a regular.

She went with him to the landmark game on Saturday.

“It was an awful game,” she says. “But it was about the day out really.”

“True,” nods Keith. “Wednesday let us down as always but we still love them.”