Tuesday 23 January 2018

Fans hitch-hike to South Africa

Merrick Adams (left) and Andrew Grady hitch-hiked from England to South Africa for the World Cup
Merrick Adams (left) and Andrew Grady hitch-hiked from England to South Africa for the World Cup

Some people will go to any lengths to get to the World Cup - including hitch-hiking to South Africa from London.

Andrew Grady, 33, a musician from South Shields, set off from London on April 25 and has met truckers, hippies, nomads, and England fans along the way.

He saw his first live World Cup match on Wednesday, watching England beat Slovenia 1-0 in Port Elizabeth, and now believes the team will go on to win the tournament.

In a bizarre twist, he got to the match using a ticket belonging to Pavlos Joseph, the England fan who stumbled into the team's dressing room after the game against Algeria.

Mr Grady, who has travelled through France, Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo and Benin, Nigeria and Botswana, said: "I wanted to present Africa from ground level, using hitch-hiking as a vehicle to display how lovely and friendly everyone is. The World Cup is the biggest human jamboree on Earth. So I couldn't think of a better destination to aim for."

He said he did not usually have to wait more than a couple of hours for somebody to pick him up.

But the longest he had to wait was at the start of the journey in Calais, when he spent 24 hours on the roadside and slept under a bridge to shelter from the rain.

Mr Grady said he had encountered "astounding" generosity on the trip, including from a British businessman who he met in a bar in Accra, Ghana.

The man bought him a flight to Johannesburg at a cost of 1,500 US dollars (£1,000) so he could reach the World Cup on time.

Mr Grady is travelling with musician and filmmaker Merrick Adams, 29, also from South Shields.

Press Association

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