Eastleigh super fan Dave Wright chalked up his 1,700th Spitfires game when he watched the 1-1 vanarama National League draw against Torquay United in the pouring rain at the Silverlake Stadium on Boxing Day.

But his remarkable love of sport, which also embraces cricket and horse racing, isn’t simply confined to Eastleigh, whom he’s followed for close on 40 years, writes Mike Vimpany.

Dave has revealed that, in addition to supporting Eastleigh – they were Swaythling FC playing in Hampshire League Division 1 when he began supporting them in October 1979 - he has watched every Premiership and Football League club at every possible venue in the country since April 1985.

That adds up to visiting a staggering 150 Football League grounds !

Following the horses, he’s also been to every single race track in England, Scotland and Wales – but he’s not finished yet.

“I still have 11 of the 26 in Ireland to do – that’s my current project,” he laughed.

Soccer-wise, Wright clocked up his 150th different venue when he watched Tottenham Hotspur draw 1-1 with West Bromwich Albion at Wembley last November.

Back in the autumn, he saw newly promoted Forest Green Rovers play a home Division Two match, although he had been to Nailsworth several times before with Eastleigh.

Dave had his original set of 92 club grounds in the bag over 30 years ago.

“My 92nd venue to complete the league set, so to speak, was back in April 1985 when I watched Middlesbrough beat Fulham 2-0 at Ayresome Park.

“But since there have been promotions out of the Conference and a whole host of clubs have switched venues, so I’ve got 30 duplicates in the bag as well,” he smiled.

He’s seen Brighton & Hove Albion play at three separate grounds – the Goldstone, Withdean and the Amex, Bristol Rovers (at Eastville, Bath City and the Memorial Ground) and Coventry City at Highfield Road, Northampton’s Sixfields Stadium and the Ricoh Arena.

Darlington, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Wigan Athletic count among the 30 clubs Dave has watched play at two different venues.

So, what sparked Dave’s amazing feat of watching soccer, often in far flung corners of the country and games with no real personal preference of the outcome?

He explained: “I caught the bug after watching Saints beat Atletico Bilbao in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup at the Dell in September 1971.

“I watched half-a-dozen Saints away games after that and found that following soccer was a good way to visit a lot of places in the country I wouldn’t normally get to.”

By the end of the 1984/85 season, Dave had done the lot – with one bizarre weekend in February 1984 (when he went to three games in three days) standing out among the many trips he’s made.

He recalled: “I went to a Division 4 game at Exeter City on the Friday evening, and then caught an overnight sleeper to the north-east to watch a goalless draw between Sunderland and Liverpool at Roker Park on the Saturday afternoon.

“I came back to my Winchester home for a few hours before heading off to watch Swansea City lose 3-0 at home to Fulham at the Vetch Field on the Sunday.

“All the trips were by train. Goodness how much the weekend cost in terms of travel and ground admission !”

Wright, a leading umpire in the ECB Southern Premier Cricket League during the summer months, says Anfield is the best stadium he’s visited.

He earmarks Halifax Town’s ground at The Shay as the worst.

“The Halifax visit was a Friday night 0-0 Fourth Division ‘thriller’ with Rochdale; we drove back for Eastleigh’s Wessex League game at Moneyfields the next day,” he explained.

Wright reckons the best game he’s ever seen was back in 1991 when he watched Liverpool put seven goals past Peter Shilton when thrashing Derby County 7-1 at the Baseball Ground.

“Saints beating Manchester United 1-0 to win the FA Cup on May 1 1976 is probably my best memory, while the 3-1 FA Cup victory at Swindon Town in 2016 is unquestionably my finest Eastleigh moment,” he recalled.

“The best atmosphere I ever experienced was at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in 2015 when the Republic of Ireland beat Germany 1-0 in a Euro 2016 qualifier.

“I managed a few race meetings while I was there as well.”

But supporting Eastleigh remains Dave Wright’s first love, although he confesses he can’t make Saturday’s Woking game or the New Year’s Day visit to Torquay United.

“Since watching Swaythling FC beat Moneyfields 3-0 in October 1979 I have seen the club climb the footballing pyramid through the Wessex, Southern, Ryman Premier & National Leagues - a fantastic journey.

“I went to all the Wessex League grounds – among them a midweek trip to Portland United, only to get there and have the game called off because of fog – and still enjoy trips out to watch games when Eastleigh aren’t playing.”

Naturally, he’s been everywhere in the National League, save AFC Flyde.

“I’ll do that trip in February, with Eastleigh,” he says.

“It’s been a remarkable adventure. I rather bizarre hobby, if you like, but lots of fun, lots of stories and meeting the many hundreds of followers of non-league football up and down with the country.”

Dave was a major contributor to the recently published "Eastleigh FC 1946-2017 THE STORY SO FAR" compiled by Gary Day & Ray Murphy.