Peterhead FC’s place in the 2016 Petrofac Training Challenge Cup final has been 125 years in the making, something ardent fans have acknowledged, with some travelling hundreds of miles to watch history in the making.
One fan, though, is travelling further than most. Ed Reeves is embarking on a 7,780-mile round trip to watch the Blue Toon take on Rangers in the north-east side’s first national senior cup final. Such is the magnitude of the match that the 47-year-old resident of Wetaskiwin in Alberta, Canada, is making the journey home across the Atlantic for the 90-minute match.
Born and raised in Peterhead, Ed emigrated to Canada 20 years ago, where he works as a truck driver. His long-distance journey home to the north-east will start on Thursday (today) with a 33-mile drive from his house to Edmonton International Airport for the first of three flights.
After transferring in Calgary and then Amsterdam, and clocking up 4,641 miles in the air, he’ll arrive in Aberdeen and be collected by his brother Michael for the final leg of his journey, ironically another 33-mile car drive. More than 16 hours after setting off, he’ll arrive home in Peterhead, where a proper haggis and a mealie pudding supper may await – two of the things he misses about Scotland.
The married father of four is a lifelong fan of the Blue Toon, a love he inherited from his father who is a season ticket holder and who took Ed to matches when he was young. Ed started planning his trip as soon as the side defeated Queen’s Park 2-1 last November. Such was his family’s eagerness to see the team play at Hampden that Ed’s dad John was fourth in the queue when tickets went on sale at Balmoor in February.
Ed said: “For as long as I can remember, I have followed Peterhead. I remember going to Recreation Park with my dad when I was young and then attending games on my own. My favourite memory, though, was going on the supporters’ bus to Elgin when I was about 12. It was both exciting and terrifying to be on going on my own, but I do suspect my dad made sure I wasn’t actually ‘alone’.”
He will be alone on his trip from Canada, however, as none of his family share his passion for football. His sons prefer American football, both CFL and NFL, along with other action sports.
“Everyone thinks it is a pretty cool thing to be able to experience with my dad. My kids are very Canadian and are not ‘soccer’ fans at all. I’ve had some jokes from work colleagues too, who’ve said I could have spent my money on sleeping pills instead of going to watch ‘soccer’. They just don’t appreciate the skill involved in playing football.”
Ed will be making the journey south to Hampden on Sunday aboard one of the 15 supporters’ buses organised by the club. It’s a journey he’ll be making with his dad and other family members who still live in and around Peterhead.
“I want to spend cup final day with dad going to the football as it was something we did for years before I moved to Canada. It is one of the things I miss. The cup final is an amazing achievement for the club and I am happy to get to share that with dad. We’re heading down on the supporters’ bus and it should be a brilliant atmosphere.”
Ed is upbeat about the Blue Toon’s chances, saying: “I feel Peterhead has every chance of winning the match. Most people’s money I suspect is on Rangers, so that should allow Peterhead to play with the freedom of having nothing to lose. I may well have a wee wager on the Blue Toon.”
If the result goes in the Balmoor side’s favour on Sunday, Ed will celebrate with several beers and the best single malt he can find. With plenty of time before he flies back to Canada, there is every prospect he may need a few days and the odd mealie pudding or two to recover if Peterhead do indeed lift the Petrofac Training Cup.