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Saori's 14-hour pilgrimage from the Far East to watch the Dons

Japanese fan shows her love for AFC Wimbledon with annual trip

27 November 2017

By Rob Cornell

For the past three years, Saori Ide has made her annual 14-hour pilgrimage from her home in Japan to support her team AFC Wimbledon.

Her love for the Dons was born out of curiosity, initially, whilst doing the weekend shopping, when living and studying locally for four years.

"I didn't know about the club at all before when I was living in Japan, but I started coming to the games," explained Saori, who makes sure she gets here once a season.

"There is a Japanese food shop near Norbiton station and I used to go there on Saturdays. I used to see the supporters going to the games and I did some research on where they were going. Then I found AFC Wimbledon!

"I was living in Hampton Hill for four years, studying Irish Studies, which I have an MA in. I also did a BA for three years. However, I also started to learn the history of the club and I think I made a great choice to follow AFC Wimbledon."

This season is Saori's sixth season as a Dons fan and her third season as a Dons Trust member. She returned to Japan at the end of 2014 and since then has come back to see Wimbledon once a year.

"It takes 12 hours from Tokyo to London, but I have to take another plane from Fukuoka to Tokyo which takes an hour and a half – so in total it maybe takes 14 hours," said Saori.

Although she'd like to attend more often, it can be an expensive and time consuming process. However, Saori is now very grateful for the iFollowDons stream and devotedly watches every match, even though most of the games kick-off at midnight back in Japan.

"There's not really much coverage of AFC Wimbledon back home, but last year on a Japanese football show they talked about our FA Cup game against Curzon Ashton when we came back from 3-0 down."

Saori is also somewhat of a lucky charm for the Dons and is keen to maintain her own, personal unbeaten record in the future too. Wimbledon drew 2-2 with Peterborough on her most recent visit to The Cherry Red Records Stadium, adding to victories on her previous visits.

"Every time I've come back – we've won! From the first time I came here, I felt so connected to the club and the other supporters, which I'd never experienced before.

"My favourite game was the match against Cheltenham Town, when we came back to win 4-3 and we scored several goals in a matter of minutes. I don't have a favourite player in particular, but I like George Francomb."

Saori is pictured with manager Neal Ardley before the game against Peterborough.

Are you a long distance fan with a story to tell of how you became involved with AFC Wimbledon? 

E-mail and your story could also feature on our official website. Alternatively, send your picture wearing your Dons colours to our official Twitter page, using #iFollowDons or via Facebook.

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