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It’s a fan’s life! by Thom Kiddle What does it take to be a true follower of a Premiership team in the 21st century? You need love for your team of course – plenty of us have that. The time to indulge your love is also a must these days. Add a pinch of madness to take you half way across Europe one Wednesday and to a rainy northern town the next week. Got all that? Well then what about bottomless pockets? No? Me neither! So, what exactly does it mean to follow your team home and away for a single month in the season? Let’s have a look at a month-in-the-life of a die-hard Manchester United fan over the coming month, starting this Saturday. John comes from Manchester, so unlike many, he doesn’t have to travel to home games as well as the away ones! The first game is away at Birmingham City, an hour or so down the motorway from Manchester. John’s decided to go with the official away-fans coach from Old Trafford. Unfortunately, the normal ticket price has been raised for this game – up to £45 – and the return coach journey will cost him £18. Running total: £ Man Utd’s next game is on Wednesday night in the Champions League. They have to travel right across Europe to the Czech capital, Prague, to play the Czech champions Sparta Prague. John couldn’t get a ticket on the official trip with the club, but he’s determined to see every game, so he’s decided to go on his own. A return flight from Manchester to Prague will cost John around £100, and he’s found a match ticket on the Internet – not cheap though – the cheapest ticket was £150! And, he’ll have to stay overnight in Prague after the game, so he’s booked a hotel on the Internet for £50. Running total: £ A home game at last! Arsenal visit Old Trafford on the 24th October; one of the biggest games of the season and a must-see for John. He doesn’t have a season ticket, but he’s a club member at Man Utd, so he’s bought the cheapest ticket, in the lowest stand behind the goal, for £21. Running total: £ It’s another away game in midweek, and slightly different opposition. United will play Crewe Alexandra of The Championship in the Carling Cup third round. Fortunately, Crewe’s only about 40 miles south of Manchester, and John’s decided to go by train to this game. His day-return ticket cost £10, and he’s got a match ticket for £15. Running total: £ Away again the next weekend; and a much longer journey down to the south coast of England, to Fratton Park, home of Portsmouth. John said the train was too expensive, so he’s decided to go by coach. However, this means he’ll have to leave Manchester at 1.15am on Saturday, and won’t get back until 5.15 am on Sunday morning! The things we do for love! Still, the coach ticket is only £33, and the match ticket will cost him £30. Running total: £ Two successive home games next. Sparta Prague make the trip to Old Trafford for the midweek champions league fixture, and the following weekend it’s the Manchester derby – when Manchester City come across the city for revenge after losing there 3-1 last year. That means it’s another two £21 tickets for John, and a slightly cheaper week! Running total: £ There is a possibility of two more games in our month with John. One is another midweek game, and will only take place if Man Utd beat Crewe in the Carling Cup third round. The winners will play again this week, but John won’t be able to plan for that until after the Crewe game, when the draw has been made for the fourth round.

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So, the final game is another away match, to the northernmost club in the Premiership, Newcastle United. John’s going by train again, this time his day-return ticket will cost him £50. There is a wide range of ticket prices at St. James’ Park, but John’s gone for the cheapest, at £27. Final total: £ So, a great month for a football fan, in which John will see his beloved team play in eight, and possibly nine, games. But what about that total? Almost six hundred pounds – that’s 45,000 baht – for just one month! And that’s without food and drink, match programmes, and other bits and pieces. And let’s not forget the time he’ll spend on the road – his wife will have to be a very tolerant woman! So, it’s not easy being a true fanatic these days. One thing is for sure – it doesn’t come cheap!

Questions English Language Can you match these headings to each paragraph? a) Derby Day b) Home against the Champions c) Heading North d) Following a fan e) A love for the game f) It all adds up g) Up for the cup h) East European adventure i) Bus to the South Maths What are the running totals, and the final total? This was just one month of a football season which runs from August to May. If this month was average, how much would John spend every season? Geography Look at a map of Britain and Europe. Can you mark John’s route over the month? How far do you think he travelled over the month? Answers English Language a) Paragraph 7 b) Paragraph 4 c) Paragraph 8 d) Paragraph 2 e) Paragraph 1 f) Paragraph 9 g) Paragraph 5 h) Paragraph 3 i) Paragraph 6 Maths Running totals: 1) £63 2) £363 3) £383 4) £409 5) £472 6) £514

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Final total: £591 Total over a nine-month season: £5319! Geography John will have travelled just over 2600 miles.

The United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.

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It’s a fan’s life!