TWO football fanatics from Tyneside face a marathon 12-hour round trip tomorrow, as their quest to follow the FA Cup from start to finish reaches Crawley Town.
Comedian Andy Fury, from Hebburn, and his pal Mark Tearney started their journey in the extra preliminary qualifying round in August, and have followed the winner of each tie since – clocking up more than 1,000 miles on their long road to Wembley.
The pair now face a 650-mile round journey to Crawley’s Checkatrade.com Stadium, in West Sussex, where they will find out if the home team or Bristol Rovers will face Birmingham City in the third round.
The match is a replay and the duo were also at Bristol for the original tie.
Mr Fury, an award-winning comic from Hebburn, said: “We shouldn’t really complain. We knew what we were taking on when we started the project, but that’s not going to stop us.
“We’ve had a great time at all the games we’ve been to so far, and I’m sure this will be no different.
“I’m not exactly overjoyed at the prospect of travelling the length of England to watch Crawley, then getting home in the middle of the night.”
Mr Tearney, a civil servant from Gateshead, said: “It’s almost like the football gods are trying to torment us by putting us in the most ridiculous possible situation. The long journey is enough to deal with, but we’ve also learned that the game is being shown on television.”
The journey – dubbed Cup Runnings – was sparked after they watched Hebburn take on Gateshead in the qualifying round two years ago.
Since then the Sunderland fans have taken in 11 games, with their most recent being the second round goalless draw between Bristol Rovers and Crawley Town last Saturday.
The duo have made plenty of cup connections along the way – even being invited into the Bristol Rovers boardroom for sandwiches.
After the trip to Crawley the pair will head to Birmingham in the New Year.
The marathon mission is being recorded in a podcast and photo-blog on their website, www.cuprunnings.com, and are writing a book, called Pies, Peas and Dreams