What’s the furthest you’ve travelled to watch United? Plymouth? a measly 279 miles, mate. Carlisle? barely over 250 miles. U’s fan Connor O’Reilly travelled over 7,000 miles to watch Mark Bonner’s first game as caretaker manager back in 2018…
Let’s be honest, does anyone have any positive memories from 2018/19 season? Yeah, we did the double over Notts in two iconic games, but those games aside, nothing of real significance happened. Today, we’re going to reminisce on one of those dark Abbey days but talk more about my journey more than the game itself.
It’s about 8am UK time, 5am local time when I wake up and start my 7,510 miles (12,086 kilometres for people who like to measure like that) near 31-hour journey to get from our home in the south of Chile to get to the Abbey in time for a 3:00 kick off against Yeovil Town. Yeah, cause what else would you want to do after travelling halfway across the world.
The first leg of my journey was a 1-hour drive to our nearest city, Chillan, to catch the coach up north to Santiago. The coach arrived at 6:30 and we headed up north, listening to some music and trying to catch some of Mark Bonner’s pre match press conference. Yeah, Mark Bonner was leading the U’s after a genuine horrific start to the season under Bobble Hat Connoisseur Joe Dunne, who got sacked two weeks earlier after only 5 wins in the first 20 games of the season. No one knew who would come in, with talks of Gary Bowyer, Daryl McMahon, Kevin Nolan and even Darren fucking Ferguson (imagine the uproar if that happened) being favourites for the job. For the time being it was Mark Bonner who was tasked to lead the U’s for the first time, with his first match at the helm being a drab 1-0 loss away at promotion chasing Tranmere Rovers. He spoke in praise of the team at the time calling it a solid week of working with the squad, albeit stating that he wanted to see some improvements in the performances.
The coach arrived at Santiago at about 12:00 local time, and I grabbed the bus with my family to the international airport where we grabbed one final Empanada and Beer together before I went through security to catch my flight. We took off at 5:00 local time on the 14-hour jaunt to London, flying over Bolivia, Brazil, the Amazon, and the Atlantic before coming over Cornwall, and landing in London. The flight might have taken about 13/14 hours, but in
the time I grabbed about 3 hour’s sleep, watched many movies and tv shows, and drunk a beer or two. What else is there to do on a transatlantic flight? I landed at about 9:30am GMT, 5 and a half hours before kick-off. A train from Heathrow to Paddington before tubing it to Liverpool Street and grabbing a train back up to Bishops Stortford to drop off some luggage (Crossrail was meant to be finished by the time I landed and as I write, we don’t know what’s happening with it) and get back to the station for the final train up to Cambridge.
Alas, the line went down by Audley End and nothing was going north. That didn’t stop me jumping into a taxi to the Abbey for the game, and at 2pm, just as Bonner had announced his team, I had my ticket scanned, and I entered the NRE for the first time since Mid-October. Somehow, I hadn’t collapsed and was ready for the game, in absolutely
freezing temperatures, in anticipation of a great game between two teams fighting each other for survival.
The game ended 0-0 in one of the worst performances of the season. The absolute mad
things you do for the club you support.
Want to tell us about a memorable game you attended? That time the U’s dished out a proper hiding? A goal you almost missed due to trying to down your pint with two minutes of half-time remaining? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or slide into our Twitter DM’s @abbeystandpod