As many football fans will know, there’s a bit of pride about making long away trips to support your team no matter the situation, or similarly lengthy round trips to make it for home games. Well, I had a bit of a challenge getting back for the Huddersfield game on Monday.
Working in Formula One means I’ve had to make my peace with not getting to as many games as I would like. Trying to keep an eye on matches from Australia and Malaysia were particularly tough at the start of this year, but I was back for the Bournemouth game before heading off again for the Chinese Grand Prix last week.
The timing of my return flight (to keep costs down) meant I was going to need to leave the circuit sooner than usual after the race but the upside was there was a slight chance of being back at Huish Park for 3pm. After the Blackburn result, I knew what the implications were, but after experiencing so many highs following this club I wanted to be there whatever was set to happen.
As anyone with an interest in Formula One will know, Paul Hembery is the head of the tyre manufacturer Pirelli. He’s also a big Bristol City fan, so we get on quite well when it comes to West Country football. Even though City had already sealed another year in League One, Hembery was jealous to learn I might get back for our game on Easter Monday while he would not be back in Bristol until the evening. It doesn’t matter where you are or what your job is, you want to be at games to support your club.
Anyway, three hours after the flag dropped in Shanghai I was jumping in to a shuttle bus to the airport – a 90 minute trip – and working frantically en-route. After a pretty hairy ride (Chinese drivers are crazy), I got my work finished in the terminal and then jumped on a 12-hour overnight flight to Paris, which landed 20 minutes late.
So, here was the first obstacle: a mad dash to Gare du Nord to try and catch the one Eurostar that would give me a chance of making it to the game on time. Fortunately, I made it with 10 minutes to spare and headed for London.
Then the tougher challenge: 20 minutes to get from St Pancras to Waterloo, buy a ticket and get a train to Yeovil. Once I just made that, I could finally relax and start worrying about the game itself, so will admit to a drink or two pretty early in the day!
Anyway, after 23 hours of solid travelling which had taken in shuttle bus, plane, train, Eurostar, Underground and then another train, I made it to Huish Park. It was some journey, but nothing compared to the ride we’ve all been on for the last eight months.
Yes, watching Adam Clayton and his beard smash in the goal that relegated us in all but mathematic certainty hurt, but there were other moments which proved more costly. And when you’re reminiscing over last-minute equalisers from Premier League-bound Leicester, disappointed with draws away at Blackburn, Wigan and at home to Bolton, you realise just what the club has achieved.
The opening-day win at Millwall and the huge optimism at the first home game against Birmingham seem a long time ago, but they were still great days to be remembered. And next season, when the sun is shining over Huish Park and we’ve got another year of twists and turns in the Football League ahead – albeit in League One – the same hopefulness will be there that it all ends with another pitch invasion and promotion party.
Who knows? In 12 months’ time we might be turning attentions to another crack at the Championship. Either way, next season is just another opportunity to make more memories and say “I was there”. We’ll all keep coming back for the ride.
Chris Medland is the F1 Editor of Crash.net