Meeting some of football's most hardcore fans

Some fans will go to almost any lengths to watch their team. Tom Bristow meets some of them.

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The Independent Online

Skipping GCSEs and forcing a relative to move their wedding day are the lengths some of Britain’s most hardcore football fans have gone to in pursuit of following their team. 

Others have clocked up more miles than the distance between London and Iraq travelling to away games last season.

Swansea fan Clare Lewis travelled 7845.7 miles to away games last season - further than the distance between Swansea and Indonesia.

The 41-year-old also forced her sister to move her wedding after finding out the big day clashed with a Swans game.

“Everything is planned around the Swans fixtures,” she said.

“I put money away each week to fund it over the year. Most of my money, what I’ve got left, goes on the Swans.”

Clare works in a meat processing plant and uses her entire holiday allowance going to away games.

She also clocked up an impressive £4,000 on a home season ticket and going to Swansea games, including Valencia and Petrolul. This doesn’t include the £700 Clare spent on buying badges and match day programmes.

Another super fan is 23-year-old Arsenal fan Zac Waldman.

Having held a season ticket since the age of 13, he is so dedicated he missed a GCSE exam in 2006 to watch the Gunners in the Champions League final.

When there was a missing table in the exam hall, everyone knew where Zac was.

Zac is a silver ticket holder, which means he goes to away games only.

It also means that like Clare, he saves his holiday allowance for primarily away games over home.

He said: “Everything is so restrictive there [at home], to go away everyone stands up and has a sing, whereas at home you get a poor atmosphere.

“You have that whole feeling of going away, there’s only 2,000 – 3,000 of you, all Arsenal lot. 

“We don’t have the best home support, but going away I think we have one of the best in league.”

Southampton fan Chris saw a total of 14 away league games last season, 13 league and one FA Cup.

But the 25-year-old has had to make sacrifices to fund his passion.

“Not saving to move out, it’s probably my biggest sacrifice because I still live with my parents,” he said.

Last season, Chris forked out £250 on an away game including tickets and travel to Newcastle.

At just 18-years-old, Aaron Hocking travelled a massive 5898.9 miles to away games last season, just in the UK. 

“We’re stuck on a limb being in Plymouth, we always seem to get weird fixtures, like last season we had Fleetwood Town on a Monday night,” he said.

That’s 325 long gruelling miles. 

“We go up and come back the same night,” he added. “It’s tough, especially if you’re working and obviously you got to take the day off, Tuesday and Wednesday, you’re not fully recovered.

“You spend a long time on the road and I like to think it is worth it. Sometimes it isn’t, sometimes it is. Overall it is.”

Another avid traveller is Newcastle fan Davey Brown who covered 2,931 miles as the crow flies alone last season – the same distance as London to Iraq.

The 47-year-old former decorator turned artist has the luxury of choosing his own hours and often stewards on away games which gives him free travel.

Davey gave up semi-professional football to follow the Magpies and even lost a girlfriend over it. 

When he was en route to meeting his girlfriend at the time he bumped into a few mates heading to a Newcastle away game, and chose to go off with them. Subsequently that relationship ended.

However Davey claims he has reformed since his earlier years. With two children and a wife of seven years, Davey has said that family will always come first.

Last season's mileage table:

No.      Club                           Miles

1          Newcastle                 4466.8

2          Sunderland               4289.8

3          Swansea                   3992.9

4          Norwich                     3723

5          Cardiff                                    3470.9

6          Southampton                        3354.2

7          Hull                             3257.5

8          Everton                      2990.4

9          Liverpool                    2966.8

10        Man United               2807.9

11        Man City                    2757.6

12        Crystal Palace          2748.3

13        Fulham                      2669.5

14        West Ham                  2662.4

15        Tottenham                 2612.7

16        Chelsea                     2605.8

17        Stoke City                  2539.4

18        Arsenal                      2527.3

19        West Brom                 2290.3

20        Aston Villa                 2273.9

-           Plymouth                   5401.9

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