Bolton fan flew 8,000 miles from China to see Wanderers v Cambridge - only for game to last just nine minutes
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A devoted football fan flew 8,000 miles from China to see his favourite team play - only for the game to be abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch.
Andy Bebbington, 36, was heartbroken after seeing just nine minutes of his beloved Bolton Wanderers' game against Cambridge United before play was cancelled.
The English teacher had spent roughly £800 jetting in from Shanghai to watch The Whites play the away fixture with his dad at the Abbey Stadium on Tuesday, February 6. But he got a “sinking feeling” after watching the deluge of water coming down - and realised before the start of the game that it was unlikely to reach full-time.
Andy said: “An hour before kick-off, I was walking to the stadium and the heavens just opened and that was just it. I got a sinking feeling, it was horrible, and when you see the players go off you just think - that’s unbelievable.
“I just felt like every fan in that away stand. But when I got back to the hotel, I was lying there and that’s when it hit that it was a bit of a wasted journey, pretty much. It was a bit of a nightmare, to be honest.”
Andy, from Bolton, said he had supported his hometown club through thick and thin after seeing his first game aged four. He went on to be a season ticket for 15 years before leaving his job in admin to work in China in 2018 as a primary school English teacher close to Shanghai. And after a pause during the Covid pandemic, he went back out to Southeast Asia for work again in August last year.
But he had made sure to factor in a trip to watch his team again with his dad, Tony Bebbington, when he returned to Britain last Thursday. Following his 20-hour flight, they had driven four hours from Bolton to East Anglia on Tuesday so they could see their beloved side in action.
Andy said: “I said to my dad, because he has still got a season ticket at the moment, listen, ‘Cambridge is playing Bolton, why don’t we get tickets and we’ll book a hotel?’. When we left Bolton it was maybe 11am. It was raining here, and we checked the forecast at Cambridge and luckily it was dry all night.
“We got to Cambridge at 4pm and the weather wasn’t perfect – it was a bit overcast, but not real danger. But within two minutes of the game, watching them trying to pass and the ball, you realised that this is not going to last much longer.”
Andy said he was gutted that his plans, which were put in place eight weeks ago, had been derailed at the last minute. But he agreed it was probably for the best that play was called off to avoid on-field injuries on the claggy turf.
He said: “When players are coming at full speed, you get miss-timed challenges, and I think it would have been an injury waiting to happen if they played on. And with the style of football Bolton play now, I feel like it wouldn’t have suited us as a team at all. I think it would have been detrimental to us."
Andy said despite missing the live action, he was able to shelter from the terrible weather and get over his disappointment with a pint. He added: “We found a little pub near the hotel, which was empty and we just drowned our sorrows.”