MY first recollections of watching football would have been at the 1974 World Cup  finals in West Germany when, of course, Scotland had qualified for the first time in 16 years. But I am reliably informed by my parents that as a toddler, and pre-school, I was already attending games at Firhill, Celtic Park and wherever else, though I have no memory of that.

I wasn’t a footballer, always more a fan of the game. I was never good enough to play but I did qualify as a referee while at school. That is why I never fall out with referees and I’m sympathetic towards them, because I know where they are coming from. Don’t believe others who may tell you differently.

Saturdays for our family started by doing the food shop at the Fine Fare in the old Regent Way in Hamilton, opposite Woolworths, before heading back out to be dropped off at Douglas Park to watch the Accies. What began as a curiosity, wondering why all these people were queuing up and where they were going when I first saw them in ’78, became a serious habit by 1980 and one I haven’t kicked. If anything, it has got worse.

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In terms of working at Hamilton, I’d go to all the Reserve League West games on a Monday night, a very popular competition with crowds of maybe 400. I’d pester the then secretary Alan Dick for team lines for my records, and he sussed out that I was some kind of weird statto who was then utilised to do various duties, from writing for programmes to selling tickets, and eventually I became secretary at Hamilton.

I had also become more independent, which meant watching more and more football matches in different places, on many occasions on the same day.

Most famously, or infamously, would be  my jaunt south during the winter of 2000. Hamilton’s game had already been called off and I went in search of something different. 

I stayed on the Friday night at Colin Cramb’s house (he was with Crewe at the time), so I set off for Kidderminster Harriers, with Exeter v Hartlepool as a back-up. I heard Kidderminster was off because of heavy snow, so headed on down the M5, only to be told Exeter was postponed as well because of snowfall.

By then, I was at Bristol, but on the radio they were listing games on, one being Northampton Town. So the map was consulted and off we went – via some strange A-roads – and made kick-off. Later, on Radio Five Live, there were Hartlepool fans on the phone-in complaining that they’d got to Exeter but hadn’t seen a game.

The host of the show asked if anyone else had made a longer journey, so I rang in. It is maybe a measure of how well known my travels had become that both ex-player and manager Sandy Clark, and the Head of Sport at this title, heard that announcement and both thought immediately that was something daft enough for Struthers to try – and next thing I came on air!

I’ve been lucky enough to see a World Cup final, when France beat Brazil in ’98, and Manchester United winning the Champions League against Bayern in Barcelona in 1999.

But they were no more special to me than seeing Accies win promotion when beating Hibs in the play-offs a few years back. But some of the most memorable moments from my time in football weren’t even on the pitch.

When Accies reached the B&Q final against Ayr United in 1991, we had our pre-match meal in Bothwell. Knowing there was only one road up to Fir Park, and that both sets of fans would be using it to get to the game, I’d organised some police motorcycle outriders to guarantee us a speedy passage up Airbles Road, which they did, pulling all the traffic into the side of the road so we could get through.

That included shifting the Ayr United team bus. The face of their manager, George Burley, was a picture as we swept past.

I still help out at Accies when required, and I get to go with the players on their Christmas night out this weekend. Someone has to look after them.

But my efforts are concentrated on being a UEFA delegate, a UEFA stadium inspector and a mentor and coach for new delegates. And that means I get to see just as many, if not more, matches – but in less familiar surroundings.

My various roles have meant I’ve had 97 flights this year, so I’m kept busy – and in my spare time I watch games; everything from women’s football to Scotland games, youth football to Scottish Juniors.

Last season, having averaged 190-plus for about four or five years, I went for broke – and saw 322 in total.

A week past Sunday I watching the Serbian Premier League match between Borac Cacak and Spartak Subotica when the Cacak players sat down and refused to play for two minutes after a contentious penalty was awarded against them, and their goalkeeper just kept booting the ball out of play for the entire second-half.

It made the news here, with me included amongst “the 25 bemused English ground hoppers” (as we were described by one tabloid) who witnessed it. Me and the Danish supporter who was there took exception to that. All in all, however, it was one of the more unusual of the 6419 matches I’ve attended.