A tale of devotion to the Dons
Making the trip from Northumberland for an AFC Wimbledon home match on a Tuesday night versus Northampton may seem like a tough ask, but that’s nothing compared to what long-time Dons supporter Tim Pratt went through last month.
Tim, who brings a “Tyneside Wombles” banner to Dons games, has been supporting Wimbledon since the late 1970s, but he says that his trip to Yeovil Town last month was one of the worst.
Completing an 860-mile round-trip and getting back to his home at 4.20 am sums up what up what some fans are prepared to sacrifice for the team – and Tim’s love for the Dons holds no bounds.
A trip to Plymouth in April even cost him his last job, and such marathon journeys are part of around 30 Wimbledon matches a season that Tim travels to around the country.
Working out the best way of getting to a Dons match, either via “The Womble mobile Fiat 500”, train or even plane, is all part of the challenge.
“For the Yeovil game I drove all the way down and I picked up my friend Pete at Harrogate,” said Tim. “From Birmingham, it was stop-start and it turned out to be a nightmare journey. I left at 4.00 am in the morning and never got to Yeovil until 1.20 pm. I had wanted to get there for around 11.30 am so that I could have a sleep before the game! It turned out to be an absolute killer and I got back home to Northumberland at around 2.40 am on the Sunday morning.
“I lived in Coventry when I first started coming down for Wimbledon games during Plough Lane days. Nigel Winterburn is an old school friend and I can remember my first Wimbledon match was against Blackburn when Howard Kendall was player-manager. When I moved up to the north-east I kept on saying that I would give it just another year, but the non league days were so good.”
The picture above shows Tim (right) in a Charleroi shirt with WDON commentator Mikey T after Wimbledon’s Intertoto Cup match in Belgium in 1995. Other images in the gallery show Tim’s “Tyneside Wombles” banner, a picture with Peter Reid, “The Womble mobile Fiat 500” and Holy Island in Northumberland, where he lives in the summer.
Considering the mileage Tim clocks up every season, why does he does it?
“My social life revolves around following Wimbledon and meeting up with lads I have known for a long time,” Tim added. “There are often four of us who travel down for games. In my last job in quality inspection at a factory I effectively got sacked because I went to the Plymouth away game. I was working for an agency and I got told it was because I was not doing well. However, I knew I was good at my job and I was told that it was because they didn’t want people taking holidays not long after they had started.
“When we got back into the Football League, it meant longer trips again. It gets addictive and the long journeys push your support to the limits. For Plymouth away later in the season I may well get the plane to Bristol and then the train. For a Tuesday night home game, there is a late train back from London to Doncaster, where I can park my car on the way. I have read about the long trips that Carlisle and Hartlepool supporters make every season, but I must be running them close!”
email@example.com Maybe there’s been a particularly eventful trip to get to a game or you make longer journeys than Tim on a regular basis. If so, it may be worth a mention. E-mailHave you got a story to tell about following the Dons?.