Page last updated at 09:41 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 10:41 UK

Moscow bound: Steven Needlestone

Steven is a 24-year-old student and life-long Chelsea fan. He says there is nothing quite like following his team away. Steve worked out a complex but money-saving trip from London via Manchester and sleeper train from Riga, Latvia.

Steve Needlestone
Age: 24
Occupation: Student
Supports: Chelsea
Planned route:
London-Manchester, Manchester-Liverpool, Liverpool-Stockholm, Stockholm-Riga, Riga-Moscow

I started searching for the cheapest route the second I knew we were going to be in the final.

I'm leaving from London on Monday for Liverpool via Manchester. I'll be flying out that night to Stockholm. I'll then be flying from Stockholm to Riga. From Riga I'll be taking a 16-hour sleeper train to Moscow! It'll be almost the same route on the way back. I'll be taking a one-man tent in case I can't find places to stay.

I estimate the total cost of travel to Moscow and back to be less than 140 (it could have been less than 100, but I decided to spend a bit more money for a bed on the train from Riga).

How did I end up with this route? I took advantage of the budget airlines and then just started working backwards. It was a bit like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle.

I also like an adventure - I've travelled round Iceland before so I'm used to a challenge.

THURSDAY 21 MAY

09:45BST Moscow: I'm still feeling absolutely gutted: we were so close. But although the result wasn't what I was hoping for, the last few days have been an unbelievable experience and I would gladly do it all again. I got chatting with a couple of Chelsea fans last night who are doing the same as me sleeping in the airport Wednesday night and heading off back to Riga by train tonight. So I'm hanging around with them today, doing a bit of sightseeing and trying to forget about the score line.

WEDNESDAY 20 MAY

23:50 BST Moscow: I feel terrible. We were one kick away from winning, but I guess it just wasn't meant to be. I'm just really gutted. We played well, the players did all they could do, but I feel just awful. I'm spending the night at the airport with some other Chelsea fans, I was looking forward to spending the night in a bar celebrating, but it wasn't meant to be. It has been a good trip though and I have lots of good memories of my journey to Moscow.

20:40 BST Moscow: I'm feeling much better after Frank Lampard's goal! I'm already beginning to lose my voice. I got into the stadium early, although there were lots of police check points. Chelsea started to play better near the end of the first half - so I think things are looking better for the second half.

17:15BST Moscow: I'm starting to feel a little bit apprehensive. But I'm now concentrating on getting to the stadium in plenty of time. For some reason all the pubs I went past this afternoon were filled with Manchester supporters - I must have missed the Chelsea ones.

A policeman addresses a group of Chelsea fans
Steven has noticed growing numbers of fans in the city
14:00BST Moscow: I've had some lunch and now I'm walking around central Moscow trying to find an internet cafe. There are queues of fans growing outside the various bars. But the city centre is big place so it's not too crowded. The atmosphere is definitely starting to build.

10:30BST Moscow: I arrived in the capital this morning after quite a pleasant sleep on the night train. Although I was woken up by two fans arguing with some Russians who had stolen their beds! After getting off the train I followed the huge crowd of fans making their way to the cheap but rather confusing Moscow metro. I am now in the centre of the city, although I'm not sure exactly where I am - again I just followed everybody else here.

TUESDAY 20 MAY

The train to Moscow
Steven enjoyed his train journey to Moscow - despite its length
22:25 BST Riga-Moscow train: I've just crossed the border from Latvia into Russia. I'm not sure where exactly we are. There was a bit of hold-up at the border as lots of police went through the train checking all our papers - especially our match tickets, as they were effectively our visas. About half the train is full of Manchester United and Chelsea fans. The train lights have just dipped, so I'm going to try and get as much rest as I can before we get into Moscow at midday tomorrow.

17:30 BST Riga-Moscow train: I'm safely on the train now and it's very hot. I'm in third class which means I'm in a large open carriage sub-divided into groups of four bunkbeds. Fourth class is just a seat. I'm feeling a lot lighter as I was able to leave most of my stuff in a locker in a Riga youth hostel - the same one I'll be returning to on the way back. At the moment I'm relaxing and having a chat with two Chelsea fans and one Manchester supporter in my section of the carriage.

Stephen's tent
Stephen pitched his tent in Nykoping, Sweden
15:50BST Riga, Latvia: I'm rushing around looking for some food and drink before my 17-hour journey to Moscow. I'm really hungry as I haven't eaten in ages.

10:30 BST Skavsta airport, Stockholm, Sweden: I walked around the town Nykoping this morning and then took the bus to Skavsta. I'm feeling quite good today after a reasonable sleep in my tent. Actually, a couple of Manchester United fans who I met on the plane offered me a place on their hotel room floor last night - but I was quite looking forward to the camping. It's a nice day here, a bit nippy but with bright, clear skies.

MONDAY 19 MAY

23:40 BST Nykoping, Sweden: I arrived in Stockholm and decided camping in a field near the airport might not be a great idea if I wanted to get a good night's sleep, so I caught a bus to a nearby town called Nykoping. I've been walking around now for several hours looking for a suitable field to pitch my tent, but I haven't seen anywhere yet. It's a nice night though and thankfully it isn't raining so I'm still hopeful of getting a good night's sleep before heading to Riga tomorrow.

20:15 BST Liverpool: My plane is on the tarmac about to take off. I've seen a few Manchester United fans on the flight, so it looks like they might be taking a similar route to me. I'm the only Chelsea fan on board, though.

Steven in Manchester station
Steven met a friend in Manchester on his way
18:25 BST Liverpool: I'm on a bus from Manchester and am nearing Liverpool airport. I'll get into Stockholm just before midnight and I'm now starting to think about where I'm going to pitch my tent when I get there! I'll try and find a field somewhere near the airport - apparently you can put up a tent pretty much anywhere in Sweden. We'll see.

13:15 BST Manchester: I've arrived in Manchester and am just having a coffee with a friend. I'm travelling to Liverpool this evening and then taking a flight to Stockholm. That should be interesting - as I'll be pitching my one-man tent just outside the airport at about 11:30 in the evening.

09:20 BST London, UK: I'm really excited about the trip. I'm just trying to get all pieces of paper together ready for the complex journey. I'll be leaving in a second to get my train up to Manchester for the first step in the trip.

The fans' journey



SEE ALSO
Stranded at Gatwick: Chelsea fans react
21 May 08 |  Have Your Say


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific