#PilgrimsAtWembley - Part Five
WE have loved reading all your stories of how Pilgrims are coming from far and wide to see Argyle play Wimbledon at Wembley.
Our final installment of #PilgrimsAtWembley involves a story of a fan traveling alone to the 1996 Play-off final, a Pilgrim from Los Angeles who is delighted to have a second chance to see Argyle at Wembley, and a 36 hour flight.
Inspired by a tweet from an Australian fan who is travelling from Down Under to watch the Pilgrims play AFC Wimbledon in the Sky Bet League 2 Play-Off Final, we asked which of our fans are making the most effort to watch the #PilgrimsAtWembley this time round.
Play-off semi-final hero Peter Hartley will select his top five Pilgrimages, and the winners will be given an Argyle play-off gift to add to what is already going to be a special occasion.
In the build-up to Monday’s game, we will be presenting a selection of the best #PilgrimsAtWembley stories for the Green Army to share in the lengths that some of our supporters will go to in order to see the mighty Greens under the famous arch.
Matt Williams is originally from Bodmin, Cornwall. He is aged 28 and has supported Argyle for about 15 years. He perhaps has the claim for the longest flight to see Argyle - a 36 hour one!
He says: "In November last year I decided to quit my job in London and head off on my travels on a one way ticket to South East Asia alone; first stop Thailand. Whilst there I met a girl from America named Jill, who is now my girlfriend. We had an instant bonding over football and decided to go to watch a game in Thailand together at Chiang Mai FC; of course wearing my Argyle shirt.
"After that we went our separate ways; I continued my travels in Cambodia and Vietnam but Jill and I kept in touch every day and it was clear this was more than a brief travelling friendship so in February I decided to fly to New Zealand from Singapore to meet her.
"After three months there our love grew and we traveled the whole country North to South. Money was starting to run out though, so I booked a flight to Australia where I planned to work; due to depart on May 9th. Jill would remain in New Zealand as she already had a working visa - it wasn't an ideal situation but we wanted to make it work.
"Jill had always wanted to visit England and in particular see a football game there; obviously I had told her about Home Park and showed her countless videos of Argyle on YouTube and a dream plan started to formulate - Jill's first taste of English football would be Argyle in the playoffs followed by a trip to Wembley!
"After we lost at home to Dag&Red I couldn't ignore the omens; this dream was meant to be and nothing was going to make us miss it, we had to get home and make the playoffs! Jill didn't need much convincing and we decided not to tell anyone so I could surprise my mates back home too.
"I booked two seats to London, we landed on the morning of the first leg after a 36 hour flight via Sydney and Delhi! Beat that pilgrimage!
"I managed to log on in New Zealand and buy tickets to the second leg - the nerves and excitement were now building fast. We landed into London on the Thursday and jet lag meant we went straight to bed. I surprised my best mate at his flat only to find he was just about to head out and watch the game at the pub with about 6 of my other mates; we duly followed.
"Jill and I got the 6 hour bus to Plymouth from London on the morning of the second leg and headed straight to Home Park. The atmosphere that day was out of this world and made me so proud to be Green! When Peter Hartley headed in at the far post the emotion all came out. Looking what this moment meant to everyone made my pilgrimage the best decision I've ever made - now for it to finish with a win at Wembley; come on Argyle!"
Pete Guest wrote in to tell us about his grandad, who was at Wembley in 1996 to see Argyle gain promotion.
"My Grandad, Edgar Redman was a life long fan," said Pete. "Back when he made the journey to Wembley 20 years ago, he was all alone on a supporters coach. Although, he was with another 30,000 members of the Green Army at Wembley following his beloved Argyle who he supported for over 70 years.
"The photo my Mum has is of Grandad sat quietly and reserved, but with a secret smile. Meanwhile all of the young people around him, many of them about 60 or more years his junior. They are all dancing, singing, bumping into him and just being over the moon that Argyle are at Wembley.
"When he returned from the day and we spoke, not once did he complain, which was unlike him. He was a very stiff upper lipped conservative 80 year old gent. He liked his own space even at the football, yet he really didn't mind at all after they won!
"Unfortunately Grandad is no longer with us, but I will be at Wembley representing him, myself and PAFC, as a life long Argyle fan. Fingers crossed, Grandad will be looking down and Derek's team can produce a similar result."
Nigel Rick is coming from California to see the Pilgrims at Wembley.
"I am flying in from Los Angeles," said Nigel. "Having followed Argyle since 1971, I'm tapping the retirement fund to come over to see us at Wembley. I was living here the last time and missed it, and thought I was never going to die happy!
"But miracles happen, I have a second chance!"