(Founded June 1978)
"A club for the fan who has done the lot " - Daily Express
"... a very special football club - The Happy Wanderers" - Daily Star
In October 1974, a Bristol City fan wrote to the Football League Review and suggested that a tie be produced for any supporter who had completed visits to all 92 Football League grounds. This is the first known suggestion for any bringing together of such supporters.
On 12 November 1977, two Colchester United fans visited Ashton Gate, Bristol City, to complete their own 92 visits and received full coverage in the Bristol Press. Subsequently, a Bristol Rovers fan retained his own qualification for 92 Club status by visiting "new boys" Wimbledon. On his return, he considered how such visits could bring together all football followers who had achieved this unique marathon. In the New Year of 1978, he put forward a suggestion to the Football League for the formation of a Ninety-Two Club to ascertain if they would have any objections. The late Alan Hardaker welcomed the idea but suggested that national publicity be sought, this was achieved via the Daily Express, the Sun and much later, the Daily Star.
A small nucleus of potential members was traced and eventually through recommendations and further publicity in League programmes together with provincial newspapers, sufficient qualifiers were identified to make the formation of a Club feasible. The idea was formally launched in May 1978 and after some difficulties the Club was actually formed in June 1978, but with a much lower membership than initial enquiries had suggested.
All the original 39 Founder Members immediately lost one ground when Workington were replaced by Wigan Athletic, these Members then needed to visit Springfield Park to maintain their own qualification. The member clubs of the Football League remained static during the early 80's when an average of some 60 supporters completed their marathon of visits each season. In the following seasons, a number of clubs were forced to use other grounds, either permanently or temporarily, which has resulted in a continually changing list of valid stadia.
The fire at Bristol Stadium, Eastville, in August 1980 forced Bristol Rovers to share Ashton Gate for several matches. This was followed by Bradford City using Elland Road, Leeds, then Leeds Road, Huddersfield and eventually Odsal Stadium after the fire at Valley Parade in May 1985. Charlton Athletic were forced to leave The Valley in September 1985 and share Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace. At the end of the same season, Bristol Rovers left Bristol altogether for Twerton Park, Bath, before later moving again to the Memorial Stadium, Bristol. The election of Scarborough in June 1987 added the Athletic Ground (later renamed McCain Stadium) as the first new elected ground since Springfield Park
Sincil Bank, Lincoln was "lost" for one season when the club was relegated and immediatly promoted, replacing Somerton Park, Newport which is now a housing estate, due to the sad demise of Newport County in March 1989. Likewise, Feethams, Darlington, was lost for one season, replaced by Watling Street, Dartford, the then-home of Maidstone United.
Changes of course, continued without elections to the League as many clubs occupied valuable central sites which were attractive to those companies wishing to build superstores and the like. The first club to actually complete such a deal was Scunthorpe United who moved to Glanford Park in August 1988. Walsall, Northampton Town and Chester City followed in subsequent seasons.
Each of these types of ground/club change have continued up to the present, but accelerated by new ground construction and the regular promotion of two new clubs each season. The demise of Aldershot, mid-season 91/92 reduced the League to just 91 clubs, this situation re-occurred the next season when Maidstone United collapsed. Due to ground-sharing by Charlton Athletic, Bristol Rovers, Chester City, Wimbledon, Brighton and Hove Albion and Fulham, the League has not always operated with a full complement of 92 actual grounds.