Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
This week’s thoughts are prompted by this Facebook post I saw a while back from the NPL Victoria’s Murray United FC. They are a club based in the NSW/Victoria border towns of Albury-Wodonga and regularly travel to Melbourne for away matches.
Along with something I’ll never forget from the Melbourne Knights who travelled to meet Olympic in a FFA Cup tie in 2014. They thought it was a massive effort to go on a two-hour bus trip for a weekend league match prior to a midweek match in Brisbane. It got me thinking, what are the travel requirements of teams competing in the NPL Queensland.
I went and did the maths and started off with the obvious case of who has to travel the furtherest, FNQ Heat. There’s ten flights to south-east Queensland for a start and a long bus trip to Townsville for their away day requirements. The numbers are staggering for a club that could be at best considered at the semi-pro level.
It’s 1384km each way on a flight from Cairns to Brisbane and four hours and forty minutes in total flight time there and back. Throw in having to arrive at the airport an hour before the flight, half an hour after the flight arrives to collect equipment, etc and then going from the airport out to the various grounds, it works out to be 135 hours and 12 minutes of travel time for the season. That’s equivalent to almost six entire 24-hour days. That is just pure travel time as well. It also doesn’t factor in that the Heat on occasions have travelled down Saturday morning and spent that night in Brisbane to play a Sunday afternoon fixture.
The total distance when you factor in flights and the bus trips out to the various south-east Queensland grounds is 29,566 kilometres per year. Yep, almost 30,000 kilometres each year to play football! That also doesn’t take into account the squad members based in Mareeba, an extra hour each way to train, play and get to the airport.
The Northern Fury aren’t too far behind at 24,026 kilometres and 122 hours of travel each season.
Then I thought about the regional south-east corner clubs. SWQ Thunder based in Toowoomba seemed the best example. The longest road trip is to the Sunshine Coast at 216 kilometres and just over two and a half hours travel time each way. Gold Coast is a 388 kilometre round trip at just over fours hours. All in all, their eleven away trips including the flights to Cairns and Townsville works out at 8,118 kilometres and almost 47 hours travel time.
Not to leave out the Brisbane-based clubs, I calculated the Brisbane Strikers‘s requirements. Using their Perry Park base as the method to calculate distances and time, they get it easy because against the Brisbane Roar, there’s no travel with both clubs sharing the same home venue.
When you add in away matches to Cairns and Townsville though, it actually comes out at a surprising result. 5,904 kilometres and a total of 32.7 hours of travel time each season.
It puts into perspective the sacrifice that players, particularly those in the north, make in order to chase football dreams and their love of the game.