Departing beautiful Devon around 20 years ago, aged 11, with spells in New Zealand, Scotland and now Germany, travelling from afar to watch the Greens has become the norm.
Living in New Zealand between 2006-12 certainly had its inconveniences following Argyle. The brutal 3am kickoff times on Sunday morning, made following our matches slightly hard work. This was of course before the inception of ArgyleTV, no such luxuries back then! I’d often hate waking up early on a Sunday, firing up the computer, and slowly scrolling down the results page, looking to see how Argyle had fared. In the end, I’d often ask my dad, an early riser, to scribble down the match result and slide it quietly under my bedroom door. This provided a more instantaneous way of finding out the result, avoiding the painstaking wait at the laptop. On a few mornings, I woke up to find multiple pieces of paper, saying “ignore the last one, there’s been a 93rd minute goal!”
Moving back to the Northern Hemisphere definitely makes supporting Argyle, and attending games, a lot easier.
Living in Aberdeen for several years, attending Argyle away games in the North suddenly became the norm, visiting the likes of Bradford, Grimsby and Hartlepool to name a few. I was also still able to make it down to Home Park once or twice a season, the MegaBus sleeper from Aberdeen to London would come in handy for such trips. The Megabus sleeper, a service that no longer runs, certainly had to be seen to be believed (along with London Victoria Bus Station at 6am on a Saturday morning). But to its credit, it was very useful for getting to games at Home Park.
Having now lived in Germany for four years, trips back to see my beloved Argyle now rely on the punctuality of budget airlines and games being played near major airports. A prime example would be Ispwich away in January. Finishing work at 4pm on the Friday, I put the new Ryanair route between Leipzig and Stansted to the test and was left thoroughly impressed as I was in an Indian restaurant in Ipswich only five hours later. Sometimes you find a flight which seems to have been sent from the footballing gods, and that was certainly one of them! That weekend in Ipswich is firmly up there in my top Argyle experiences. Of course, helped by the quality of football on display that day, not to mention that epic last-gasp equaliser from Bali Mumba. However, perhaps more important is the camaraderie and feeling of community, when surrounded by fellow Green Army members who all have a story to tell regarding their mammoth journey to get to the game, as well as an eagerness for Argyle chat in general. I’m more than happy to oblige in such a chat. As you can imagine, chances to discuss all things Argyle come few and far between in Leipzig!
However, sometimes trips don’t always go as smoothly. There comes a time during journeys when you get the eerie feeling of “was this a mistake?” For example, on the trip back for the Devon Derby, that feeling came at Plymouth Station at just past midnight (a few hours after the game itself) when it was announced that the incoming sleeper was delayed by an hour, due to a fallen tree on the track. Plymouth station certainly doesn’t have a plethora of options to kill time, especially at such an ungodly hour! The most recent hiccup was for the recent Chalton game, coming before even departing Leipzig main station. I realised I was travelling with a railcard which had expired just over a week prior. Now, you may not think this is a potentially weekend ruining moment but travelling in Germany without a railcard (after you’ve booked a ticket with one) is potentially a very expensive mistake. I was left scrambling to think of a decent excuse to avoid paying an eye watering fine. Unfortunately, before I could do so, the ticket conductor appeared in my carriage, asking for tickets from Leipzig. By some MASSIVE miracle, he looked at me and just moved on, not saying a word. It’s moments like this when you think “this is meant to be, WE ARE GOING UP!” Why he didn’t ask me for a ticket, I’ll never know, although I somehow doubt, he’d been making his way through swarms of Argyle fans on the train, and simply thought “here’s another one, already checked him”. Despite these mishaps, and believe me, there’ve been a good few, I’ve never missed a game I’ve travelled for. A proud record I hope to maintain!
The planning now starts for my final two trips of the season. Wembley, and the league game at home to Cambridge United in late April. Flights as well as budget hotels have already been booked, I’m just awaiting the release of match tickets. Perhaps a career as a travel agent beckons? I know just about every possible route, whether it’s rail, plane or bus from Eastern Germany or Northern Scotland back to various exotic lower league English football grounds. However, if I ever wanted to travel outside of those set parameters, I’d be in serious trouble!
Apart from booking modes of transport which are ideally cheap and convenient, there’s also a skill in picking the right match, especially at the business end of the season. Past experiences have taught me not to bother with the very last game of the season. I had to learn the hard way, travelling down from Aberdeen for Gillingham away (2018) and Hartlepool at home (2016) – two games which ultimately proved utterly futile, having initially promised so much. Over the years, painful lessons have been learnt, but I’m hopeful Cambridge at home will secure the precious three points which leave us on the cusp of promotion. COME ON YOU GREENS!
Green Army Germany; Leipzig Branch.