FA Cup madness to take couple from Harrogate Railway to Wembley via Manchester United
Harrogate Railway to Manchester United is not a path that's particularly well trodden for football players, managers or fans alike.
However, on March 13, Malcolm and Lorna Foyle, 66 and 64, will be completing the unusual journey from Station View to Old Trafford thanks to the magic of the FA Cup.
It was in July last year that the couple, who moved to Knaresborough from Birmingham 36 years ago, decided to follow a slightly different route to the final at the historic Wembley Stadium.
They picked their nearest local team who had qualified for the competition and, whoever won the match, they followed and supported in the next round until they reached the final.
That first match happened to be a three-mile trip to Harrogate Railway and now, 12 matches and almost 2,000 miles travelled later, the pair have found themselves in Manchester.
It’s an unusual and long-winded route to Wembley but Malcolm explained ‘life is too short not to do something a little stupid’.
He said: “I have no idea really how it came about. We have always tried to do fun activities in our retirement and we both like our sport.
“We had this dream of following the England Cricket team around on tour but we didn’t have the time or the money to do that.
“So, in July last year, I turned to my wife and said why don’t we follow the FA Cup? She gave me this funny look and said ‘well we can try’. Seven months later and here we are.”
After watching Railway lose in a replay to Spennymoor Town, the couple watched the County Durham team beat Blyth Spartans before losing to Burscough at home.
That defeat brought the couple to Harrogate’s CNG Stadium before Town eventually lost to Grimsby at home who Malcolm and Lorna supported for three games.
The Mariners beat St Albans at home before losing to Shrewsbury in a replay. The couple watched their new team beat Cardiff away and Sheffield Wednesday at home before eventually losing to Manchester United.
A trip to Old Trafford now lies in wait for Malcolm and Loran who said the game may be slightly different to the previous 12 they have watched.
Malcolm said: “It will be a bit of a shock to the system going to Manchester United with a 75,000 crowd. The biggest one we’ve seen so far is about 9,000.
“The last time we watched Manchester United George Best was playing. It was 1971 and Aston Villa beat them in the second leg of the old League Cup.
“We’ve been in touch with the United club secretary who said he would help us get tickets once the TV companies have decided on the timings so fingers crossed.”
Blogging their experiences as they go along, including the cost and quality of a cup of Bovril, the couple have built up an impressive collection of scarves, programmes and stadiums.
The journeymen said that they will making the trip to London on May 21 to watch the final, regardless of whether they manage to get a ticket for Wembley.
Despite watching more than 1000 minutes of FA Cup action, the couple admitted they will miss their FA Cup adventure which has rekindled their love of live football.
Malcolm said: “It doesn’t matter if it’s been a big club or a small club, the atmosphere at the grounds on an FA Cup has always been incredible and the passion is something you’re immediately aware of.
“We’re going to be sad when it’s all over and we’ll be looking for something else to do. We may even follow the FA Trophy next year.
“It’s been an amazing experience and we’ve met some fantastic people along the way. We would love to do it all again because you know every time it’s going to be a different adventure.”