On Saturday afternoon, Andy Heaton and six fellow Liverpool supporters left Ormskirk for Athens. Their mode of transport? A motorhome! It's a 4,000 mile round trip and along the way, they're writing a special blog for liverpoolfc.tv.
Blog Update 1
Andy Heaton, 19 May 2007
Motorhome? Check. Passport? Check. Match tickets? Erm, well, not yet. As I write this, we are just approaching Dover - we merry band of men, the Magnificent 7.
Setting off from The Fiveways in sunny Ormskirk just as the whistle sounded to kick-off the Champions League 3rd/4th Place Play Off. Teary-eyed wives, girlfriends and daughters were left behind. The wives and girlfriends made up to see the back of us and Kate Jewell disappointed to see her father go without her!
Unfortunately we can only hear about our mates from down the M62 getting beat as we cannot seem to get the TV going on the wagon. Shame that.
Dave has not hesitated to make full use of one of the seven beds before any of us had even sat down. Poor Dave (he had a heavy night) has been sleeping like a baby. In fact, he's still asleep. We're starting to get a bit worried. Might be worth poking him in a bit just to see if he's still alive!
By some miracle the TV is finally showing signs of life. Apparently it has something called an ON button. Strange things these motorhome TVs.
We are currently making good time and have been surprised to see how many are apparently making the journey by car. It would seem the inflated cost of flying has seen many fans take drastic action.
However, it's one thing going in a Motorhome; it's another in a Mondeo!
Anyway, we're just pulling into the port of Dover. Fingers crossed my brother Tommy's decision not to renew his UK passport and to bring his American one won't backfire.
From Ormskirk to the Olympic Stadium
Paul Rogers, 19 May 2007
What do you do if you're tired of hearing your dad bang on for 30 years about how he travelled 3,000 miles on a coach to see his beloved Reds win the European Cup in Rome?
If you're Andy Heaton, it's obvious you drive 4,000 miles to Athens to watch your team attempt to reclaim the European Cup in Ancient Greece.
On Saturday afternoon, Andy, brother Tommy (who has jetted in from his home in America), dad Robbie, Billy Jewell, Dave Lewis, John Flemming and John Riley will be piling into the back of a seven-man motorhome and leaving Ormskirk to start the epic 4,000 mile round-trip to the Greek capital.
So what would possess seven grown men to travel for days through England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro and Macedonia just to get to Athens when Easyjet flies direct from Speke?
"Well, as far back as the group stages we decided to price flights," recalls Andy, sitting in the liverpoolfc.tv office. "Then my Dad mentioned it was 30 years ago since him and his mates got the coach to Rome and started talking about the possibility of driving. I thought he was having a laugh but it got me thinking. I just thought, how we could do it? If were driving, were going to have to stop at hotels and this, that and the other. Then, I saw an advert for a film where they had a big tour bus and I thought, 'I fancy that!' We talked about it and talked about it and then after the first leg against Chelsea, we gambled and put down a deposit on a motorhome."
Didn't that just make watching the return leg at Anfield even more nerve-wracking than it already was?
"Yes and no. Once we got away with 1-0 in the first leg, I knew we were through. I thought theyd need more than one goal because I knew we could more than one at Anfield. In fact, I felt like we could get three goals if we needed three goals. I was that confident. We were obviously nervous at the start - I get nervous when we're playing Sheffield United - but after the first five minutes, I was completely calm. People talk about the atmosphere against Chelsea in 2005 but I thought this year it was a difference kind of intensity. When we won the European Cup in 2005, we were underdogs all the way but this year we've been fighting as equals. Once we were 1-0 up against Chelsea it never looked like we were going to give it up."
European Cup final place booked, it was time to somehow work out how to get from Ormskirk to the Olympic Stadium. Was it a case of endless nights studying European road maps?
"Er, not exactly," laughs Andy. "The RAC website did all the hard work! Originally we were going to get the ferry from Italy but we checked that out and it would have put eight hours on the journey. As were leaving on Saturday, we want to get there as soon as possible so we're sticking to road. It looks about 40 hours straight through including the ferry from Dover to Calais.
"The route looks really interesting. Croatia sounds really nice and Ive never been to Austria. The Champions League finals great but this looks like it could be an amazing trip in itself. Its 30 years since Rome so it feels like a rite of passage for me because my dad's bored me with stories, 'Oh, we drove to Rome 30 years ago'. I think itll be great to be involved in a little piece of history plus, its something to tell people as well. Its not a case of flying in and out on the day. Ten years down the line, when people say, 'How did you get there?' We've got a great story to tell."
Before waving the lads off on their epic journey, liverpoolfc.tv casually asks Andy if he's thought about just how miserable the trip back could be if the team somehow fail to do the business on the night. A look of astonishment flashes across his face?
"If we lose?" he spits. "If we lose? We wont lose! Rafa doesn't lose matches like these."
And with that, he's off on a trip of a lifetime. We wish them well.