Author: Jack Kenmare, Sport Bible
Before complaining about your next away trip, please spare a thought for Hemel Hempstead’s biggest fan Colin Perreira and his guide dog Sid, who regularly travel 440 miles to attend every home game in the National League South.
Perreira, who is originally from Hertfordshire, is currently studying International Tourism Management at the University of Plymouth, meaning a train ride of around five-and-a-half hours is permitted to attend every single home game at Vauxhall Road.
So, how does he do it? The 23-year-old is used to early morning starts, especially for a standard Saturday, 3pm kick-off in the sixth tier of English football.
Colin travels to both home and away games with Golden Retriever cross, Sid, who has his own Facebook page, for those interested.
“A normal journey from Plymouth to Hemel Hempstead is done by train. it is approximately a 440-mile round trip and takes me door to door roughly about 5 and half hours.” he told SPORTbible.
“I do this journey most weeks to watch Hemel Hempstead Town FC both home and away with my guide dog Sid, a four year old Golden Retriever cross Labrador.”
The 23-year-old, who is partially sighted, spoke in great detail about his trip to home and away games.
“It all depends if it is a Saturday or Tuesday night game.” he told SPORTbible.
“Usually for a Saturday game I travel up on the Friday evening and stay with my dad for the night and then go to the game on the Saturday.
“I then either head back to Plymouth after the game on the Saturday evening after a couple of more drinks in the clubhouse afterwards, or sometimes I stay with my dad on the Saturday night and head back to Plymouth on the Sunday evening.
“If it is a Tuesday night game I usually aim to leave on the 11:00am train to London Paddington that arrives there just after 2pm
“I then get the Bakerloo Lane London Underground service through from London Paddington to Harrow and Wealdstone, which takes another half an hour, and then the London Northwestern Railway service from Harrow & Wealdstone to Hemel Hempstead which takes another 20 minutes.
“I then either get a taxi from Hemel Hempstead Train Station or a couple of buses up to the pub that is just down the road from the ground – The Jubilee – where many supporters go for pre-match drinks on both Tuesday and Saturday games.
“I usually have a couple of hours in there playing music on a record player, having a sing-song and a few drinks and the head to Vauxhall Road for the game shortly before kick off, normally about 30 minutes before.”
As for the essentials he brings on the journey, Colin usually has his rucksack containing a laptop, a pair of headphones, a phone charger and binoculars to help see the ball up the other end.
He also carries a separate bag for Sid the Golden Retreiver – containing dog food, a grooming set, toys and a blanket for him while he watches the match.
He also brings a travel bowl and a couple other little bits such as treats and his coat – what a guy.
When he arrives at the game, Colin will always stand behind the goal that Hemel are attacking.
He can only see as far as the 18-yard line, but says he uses the lens on his phone to help keep his eye on the ball.
“I always stand behind the goal that Hemel are attacking, like you do in non-league football, which is part of the beauty and culture of non-league so I can see and celebrate all the Hemel goals.” he told SPORTbible.
“I also use a combination of my binoculars and my phone camera to zoom in on the action when it is up the other end.
If you manage to get yourself to a Hemel game, the 23-year-old can be seen playing the drum to get everyone going as Sid the Golden Retriever looks on. Take my money.
It doesn’t stop there for Colin.
He also has a voluntary role in the club as Press Officer, which involves the odd player/manager interview and helping out with social media posting the latest news for fans including LIVE match updates.
In fact, Perreira has been given a free season ticket by chairman Dave Boggins for his loyalty to the club – a deserved reward for arguably the most dedicated football supporter in Britain.
“I can’t thank the club and the Chairman Dave Boggins enough for everything they have done for me, including Dave giving me a free season ticket.”
“I love doing these little bits as it has got me even closer to the club I love, my hometown club that I now have such a passion and connection with.
“And doing the Press Officer stuff is my way of helping out the club and giving back for everything they have done for me.”
Perreira later revealed that the longest trip he has ever made was from Plymouth to West Sussex, when he watched Hemstead play away at Bognor Regis. It took an incredible six and a half hours to complete the 650-mile trip.
Clearly the distance doesn’t stop him from watching his beloved club, and he’s hopeful for the future.
“This season I’ve been going to almost every home game as well as a good portion of the away games. I think it’s somewhere in the region of 500 miles. I think the future’s bright for Hemel and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Take a bow, Colin and Sid the Golden Retrieve, you really are an inspiration to many.
Published on: November 14, 2018