- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I met a middle-aged, gray-haired Brit named Mark Bray on the train to Kaiserslautern. He calls himself a “stadium spotter.” His main interest at the finals is not so much the match, or the team, but in the stadium where the game is being played.

Bray is a member of the “92 Club” in Bristol, England, a group of with more than 1,000 members who have visited all 92 stadiums of the teams in England’s four professional soccer divisions.

“It took me 20 years to do the lot,” he said.

Bray was excited to get to Kaiserslautern for the USA-Italy match to see the new $90 million Fritz-Walter Stadium, which opened this year. He considers Arsenal’s soon-to-be demolished Highbury Stadium as the best one he’s seen.

• I heard there’s a bar in Hanover called “Jack the Ripper,” where games can be seen with English commentary. They say the bar is run by an Irishman, who is hidden away. I’m still looking for it.

• Hamburg is the first venue where I’ve noticed some empty seats. These were in the Saudi Arabia section at its match against Ukraine. The Saudi wives were probably left back at the hotel.

John Haydon

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