England fan makes 17,500 mile trip

RUSTENBURG - England fan Dave Barrett has made possibly the longest and most expensive detour of some 17,500 miles (28,160 km) to support his team at the World Cup finals.

Dave, 33, a pharmaceutical salesman, originally from Bristol in southwest England but now living in New Zealand, began his trip when he went to Auckland last Saturday (June 5) with his girlfriend and checked in for his flight to Johannesburg.

Instead of boarding a plane to South Africa, however, he found himself cancelling his ticket, buying a new one and that evening taking a different flight - to London - because he did not have a blank page in his passport.

Told that without a spare page, he would not be allowed into South Africa and then informed by the British Embassy in Wellington that it would take four weeks to process a new one, he weighed up his options.

"I thought about going to Honk Kong," he said. "But in the end decided the best thing to do was to cancel my original flight and go to London for a new passport."

He flew to London, transferred to Peterborough where the United Kingdom's main passport office is located, and after three hours queuing up for a new passport, returned to Heathrow airport and flew to Johannesburg, South Africa the same day.

"I arrived on Tuesday in the end, and I was glad to get here," he said on Friday as he prepared to travel his final journey from Pretoria to Rustenburg for Saturday's opening group C clash between England and the United States.

"It was a long trip and expensive, yes," he added. "The new ticket cost me 5,000 New Zealand dollars ($3,430), but I think it was all I could do. I had no option.

"My girlfriend was there with me in the airport and she just told me to go and do it. Luckily, she was very supportive!"

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