Painful feet is quite a feat for Mclachlan

Scott Mclachlan with Sir Bobby Charlton
Scott Mclachlan with Sir Bobby Charlton

Scott Mclachlan was at Ewood Park on Wednesday night to witness a home defeat to Bolton.

Not that the 44-year-old is a Blackburn fan, by any means. As a Pompey Trust board member, his footballing affiliation is obvious.

Yet he was present at that 2-1 Rovers loss as a guest of the club.

Similarly, the Blackburn Supporters’ Trust paid for him to spend two nights at a nearby hotel.

It’s a gesture which epitomises the football family’s attitude towards Mclachlan as he continues to make his remarkable journey in the name of charity.

He quit his London IT job and moved out of his rented Walthamstow home to embark on an eight-month, 2,500-mile trek involving walking to all 92 Football League clubs.

Prostate Cancer UK will benefit to the tune of at least £2,000, with Mclachlan hoping to raise much more before ending his feat at Brighton in April.

Since departing from Fratton Park in August, 36 football clubs have been visited and 900 miles covered – all by foot.

Along the way he has been shown around Old Trafford by Sir Bobby Charlton and handled the Premier League trophy at Manchester City.

He was given free entry into a Liverpool Europa League match, met Oldham boss Paul Dickov, sat down with Bristol City manager Derek McInnes and was presented with a signed Cardiff shirt.

All but one of those 36 clubs so far encountered opened the doors and welcomed him inside their ground.

The solitary dissenter has been Southampton, who declined on the basis it was not their policy.

Instead, Mclachlan, who had not mentioned he followed Pompey, had a cup of tea and a bacon butty stood in the megastore car park at St Mary’s. As it stands, it has been the one solitary disappointment.

Yet Mclachlan would rather focus on the generosity of those clubs who continue to lend him a helping hand.

He said: ‘I have thought about giving up 100 times. Physically it has been really hard. But the kindness of other people has kept me going.

‘It has been wonderful meeting other fans and hearing their experiences. People you have never met before treat you so kindly, so generously.

‘I’ve been given signed shirts to auction, signed footballs, match tickets, accommodation, meals and, generally, been superbly looked after by so many.

‘People out there meet a complete stranger and want to help. It shows football is a sport that does bring people together.

‘The highlight has to be Manchester United who, I have to admit, I expected very little response from considering they are so huge and probably have their own fund-raising activities.

‘Yet they couldn’t do enough for me. Then, while I was on a guided tour, it came over the radio that Sir Bobby Charlton wanted to meet me.

‘Purely by chance he was there that morning and I had 30 minutes with him walking around the stadium, it was wonderful.

‘He was so proud of the place, he changed into this kid right in front of my eyes, enthusing about the Theatre of Dreams.

‘I was dumbstruck I couldn’t say a thing. I am not usually someone who gets overawed, but you know you are in the presence of greatness.

‘The next day I went to Man City and they took me pitch side and unlocked these two glass cases which housed the Premier League trophy and the Community Shield.

‘Other clubs have been tremendously welcoming, too. Birmingham’s Trust put me up in a hotel, Walsall’s Trust paid for me to stay at the Bescott Stadium, Cardiff and Swansea were great, as were Plymouth.

‘It has been an amazing experience so far and I just hope I can finish it.’

Every day, Mclachlan walks 15 miles over a five-to-six-hour period, averaging one club visited.

Accompanied by his trusty tent, he had saved £5,000 to help fund his accommodation, food and drink along the way.

Pompey fans around the country have also done their bit, putting him up when they can.

It’s a trek which will take him as far as Carlisle, before returning south via London and then Brighton.

A return to Fratton Park is pencilled in for April 9.

Mclachlan is not even halfway there in terms of distance and clubs, but he believes he has already beaten the pain barrier.

He added: ‘I walked from Pompey to Southampton and, at the end of day two, had to have two weeks off because my foot exploded.

‘The little toe on my right foot had too many blisters on it and was disgusting, so on doctor’s orders I had to let it heal.

‘When I was a young man it would be football twice a week and clubbing until dawn, but the last 10 or so years I’ve not done much.

‘So the physicality of the task was an utter shock. Those first few weeks were absolute hell, I was in bits but had to carry on.

‘People were telling me it would get easier – and it did day-by-day.

‘I would wake up every morning, not be able to move and then spend half-an-hour in the shower before going out and doing another walk.

‘It’s going well, my body is still intact – as are my boots. I’ve now just got to find a nice, kind family to spend Christmas with between Middlesbrough and Bradford.’

For more information on Mclachlan’s charity bid, visit walkthe92.co.uk or those interested in sponsoring him can contact walkthe92project@gmail.com