Middlesbrough fans' big trips to Wembley

By Duncan Leatherdale
BBC News online

  • Published
Wembley stadiumImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Middlesbrough will play Norwich City at Wembley on Monday

Taking their seats among the 90,000-strong crowd for the Championship play-off final between Middlesbrough and Norwich City will be some fans who have made mammoth trips to be there.

The vast majority of Boro supporters will be making the 250-mile (400km) trip to London from Teesside.

But some will be coming from much further afield for just 90 minutes of football - plus extra time and penalties, if needed.

  • Middlesbrough V Norwich City


    Sky Bet Championship play-off final

    Kick-off at Wembley at 15:00 BST

  • Daniel Eskdale


    Wanaka, New Zealand

    Distance to Wembley: 11,740 miles (18,900km)

  • Lee and Toby Hall



    Distance to Wembley: 3,200 miles (5,170km)

  • Paul Harrison


    Takoradi, Ghana

    Distance to Wembley: 3,220 miles (5,190km)

  • Graham Morgan


    Benalmadena, Spain

    Distance to Wembley: 1,050 miles (1,700km)

Graham Morgan - Spain

When Graham Morgan's wife Amanda booked a bank holiday trip to Benalmadena on Spain's Costa Del Sol, he knew he could have a big choice to make: family or football.

The holiday was booked last year, and he instantly spotted the potential clash with a Wembley play-off final.

"I politely pointed this out to her, but she retorted with 'it's not Christmas yet - the slide is yet to come'," he said.

"Ever since the day the holiday was booked I've been exceedingly nice to the wife, but I was ripped apart from choosing either the company of my delightful family or a bucket-list day with the lads."

But moments after Middlesbrough's place at Wembley was confirmed, Mrs Morgan made the difficult decision for her fraught husband.

"My wonderful wife booked flights from Malaga to Gatwick and plotted my route through the Underground to Wembley Stadium, making sure I return on the Tuesday to sunny Spain," said Mr Morgan.

"Thanks to the thoughtful, empathic wisdom of my beloved partner I can now give my love to both the family and the Boro. She's a great lass."

Paul Harrison - Ghana

Image caption,
Paul Harrison will make the long trip home to see Middlesbrough play at Wembley - but not for his youngest son's birthday

Paul Harrison will travel more than 5,000 miles (8,000km) on six aeroplanes to get to Wembley from Ghana - via Redcar to pick up his son, Jacob.

But although he is making the trip for 72 hours to see his beloved Boro, he will not be doing it for his youngest son's birthday two weeks later.

Mr Harrison, who works for a transportation company in Takoradi in southern Ghana, said: "The wife is not a football fan at all and thinks we are pretty crazy.

"She's asked why I'm not coming back for the birthday. I've not explained that one to her yet."

"It's for the Boro; it's what we do," he said.

"We're a strange breed, football fans in general; we do crazy things for our teams. Week in, week out, we spend hard-earned cash following our team around the country."

Pete and Zack Roberts - Portsmouth

Image source, Pete Roberts
Image caption,
Pete Roberts said it was "unbelievable" after fellow Middlesbrough fans paid for he and his son Zack to go to Wembley

Pete Roberts and his son Zack, five, may not have to travel too far - just 80 miles (128km) - but the fact they are going to the match at all is testament to the generosity of their fellow fans.

Mr Roberts was unable to afford tickets for him and his disabled son, but an appeal on social media has seen Boro fans pay for the pair to go to the match.

He told BBC Tees: "It's just unbelievable; I can't thank them enough. Middlesbrough FC is my life.

"It's bewildering; amazing. Teesside has pulled together for my son."

Lee and Toby Hall - Qatar

Image source, Lee Hall
Image caption,
Lee Hall said the trip to Wembley was costing "a small fortune", but that he "wouldn't miss it for the world"

Lee Hall and his eight-year-old son Toby will make a 6,400-mile (10,000km) round trip from Qatar to support Middlesbrough at Wembley.

The pair will be in the UK for three days after Mr Hall, who works in building design, made a promise to his son.

He said: "I promised Toby that if we managed to get through the play-offs to the final then I would take him and that's what we are doing.

"We will be joining up with family and friends, some of which Toby has never met and I have not seen since the Eindhoven UEFA Cup Final [in 2006 when Middlesbrough lost 4-0].

"We wouldn't miss it for the world, even if it is costing a small fortune and we are missing three days of work and school.

"My wife Nicola and older daughter Charlotte would like to have come but Charlotte can't miss school as she is in her GCSE years so we are set for a boys' weekend in the capital."

Daniel Eskdale - New Zealand

Image source, Daniel Eskdale
Image caption,
Daniel Eskdale will spend just two-and-a-half days in the UK after travelling from New Zealand

Daniel Eskdale will make a round trip of 23,600 miles (38,000km) to spend just two-and-a-half days in the UK.

The 28-year-old, who works as a painter in Wanaka on New Zealand's South Island, said it was worth the 38 hours of travelling.

"My only trip to Wembley was when I was 10. I was too young to appreciate what it meant," he said.

"Since then I have followed the team from Blackpool to Xanthi, seen us win a trophy and watched as we beat some of the biggest names in Europe.

"But the dream was always to see us again at Wembley, to have us in a final, to walk down Wembley Way and soak in that special feeling only that place can give.

"These chances don't come round very often. It's what dreams are made of. Why wouldn't I make the effort?"

Tosh Warwick - Miami

Image source, Tosh Warwick
Image caption,
Historian Tosh Warwick has rearranged a conference in Miami to get back for the play-off final

Historian Tosh Warwick, 31, went to Miami to to present a paper at the North American Society for Sport History Conference on the pastimes of Victorian steel workers in Middlesbrough.

But he has now rearranged his speaking slot so he can make the 4,420-mile (7,110km) trip to Wembley.

Mr Warwick said: "I have been going to the Boro matches for decades. I've always hoped I would get to see the Boro win at Wembley.

"As soon as we got to Wembley it was a frantic switch in plans rearranging flights and conference details. It's a long trip but hopefully it will be worth it - even if we get beat at least I'll have been there supporting the Boro."