Bike-riding England fans arrive in Russia just in time for World Cup opener
The pair have raised more than £2,000 for the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research.
Two England fans have arrived in Volgograd after a gruelling cycle of more than 2,400 miles from the UK to the World Cup in Russia.
Jamie Marriott and Mitchell Jones set off from Emsworth, in Hampshire, on May 25 and pedalled through France, Germany, Poland and Ukraine to reach the southern Russian city just in time to see the Three Lions play their tournament opener against Tunisia on Monday.
The pair, who have previously cycled the length of the UK from Land’s End to John O’Groats, have raised more than £2,000 for the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research in memory of Mr Jones’s youth football coach Brian Randall.
The original plan had been to cycle from Wembley just after the FA Cup final on May 19, but they decided to go from the village Mr Marriott grew up in instead.
Mr Marriott, who lives and teaches English in Berlin, said: “We’ve been going 24 days, 2,400 miles through eight different countries and we’ve finally made it to Volgograd Arena.
“There was nothing out of the ordinary – we had quite a few punctures, some bad weather and not enough tubes to replace the punctures.
“The plan now is to ditch the bikes and have a few beers.”
Mr Jones, 24, said: “It’s feels good to be here, it feels good that we don;t have to get back on the bike and cycle again. That’s the overriding feeling.
“The fact that it’s the World Cup, the buzz hasn’t really set in quite yet.
“I think once we’re showered and we’re ready to go out again and we see the England fans it might be a bit more electric.”
How are you getting to Russia for the #WorldCup? We bet it doesn't involve cycling 2,400 miles - but that's exactly what @Jamie_Marriott and his friend, Mitchell, are doing to raise money for the BMF! GOOD LUCK lads! pic.twitter.com/JOVelJiXuf— Bobby Moore Fund (@BobbyMooreFund) June 8, 2018
He also paid tribute to Mr Randall, who coached him at West Sussex youth team Bosham FC.
“We just wanted to honour his memory and raise a bit of cash for a worthy cause,” he said.
Mr Marriott, 28, said he believed England would beat Tunisia comfortably by three goals to nil, and the pair said they both hoped the Three Lions made it to the quarter final.
They each have tickets for all three group G games but said they did not plan to cycle to the other host cities of Nizhny Novgorod and Kaliningrad, opting instead for trains and planes.
Mr Marriott said he has travelled away with England many times, including to Marseille in Euro 2016, but he was not put off by fears for fans’ safety.
The pair, who became friends when they worked together and have previously travelled through Russia before on the Mongol Rally, said they had no issues with authorities on their mammoth trip.
To donate visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/wembleytorussia.