Saturday’s first-ever trip to Whitehawk will be a trip into the unknown for most Ebbsfleet United fans – but at least most of them will be travelling by road.
For one intrepid group of Fleet supporters, however, it will be an altogether different experience as they’ll be taking the slightly longer way round – via the North Sea, Strait of Dover and English Channel. The three crew (they may be joined by a fourth) – skipper Andy King plus Joe Glidewell and Danny Eakins – will be departing Strood on Friday at 10am aboard the 10-metre angling vessel Evelyn Jane (pictured). Normally fitted out with two bunks, they’ll be fashioning a temporary extra sleeping area for the overnight trip.
Their 143-nautical-mile voyage will take them around the coast and past familiar non-league haunts including Whitstable, Herne Bay, Margate, Folkestone, Dover, Hastings and Eastbourne, before arriving at Brighton Marina around 6am on Saturday – in plenty of time for a well-deserved breakfast and pre-match drink prior to the kick-off at Whitehawk.
They’ll be staying in Brighton overnight, returning Sunday morning to arrive home in the early hours of Monday… just in time to set off (by road on this occasion) for the away game at Havant.
In the past, Fleet fans have crossed water to get to a match – the ferry across to Essex for various fixtures and the same to Newport IOW in the Nineties. But this is believed to be the first time Fleet or perhaps any non-league fans have gone by sea under their own steam to an away fixture.
Evelyn Jane‘s skipper Andy King told FleetOnline, “Plans were made to go to Grimsby last year and we were all set but our game got called off because of Grimsby’s involvement in the Trophy. I just like doing things differently if possible. I am pretty sure nobody in the history of non-league has done this before. I want to do something not many if any have ever done.
“If this is a first then great. At the very least it will be interesting to do. None of us are doing it for publicity or anything. We just want to do it because we can basically.”