DEVOTED Hartlepool United fans are gearing up for another mammoth season on the roads following their beloved team – almost 10,000 gruelling miles.
Over the course of the Sky Bet League Two campaign, Pools fans are facing another epic season with the longest trek down to Plymouth Argyle, some 387.2 miles away from Victoria Park.
While the overall mileage for round trips has dipped by around 30 miles compared to last season, fans are still facing a round trip of 9,695 miles in 2014-15 if they want to see every game.
One Pools supporter that aims to go to all matches home and away next season is superfan Mark Carroll.
The 35-year-old admits it is a huge commitment following his beloved team up and down the country, but he does it because of his passion for Pools.
Mark, from the Grange Road area, says it will easily cost him a couple of thousand pounds when he budgets for the travel costs, ticket prices and any overnight stops.
Mark, a highways inspector for Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “I have only missed a handful of away matches in recent years.
“It is a huge commitment given the long distances but you do it because you love to, it is a passion and something I have been doing regularly since the age of 18.
“Younger Pools fans have enjoyed relative success in the past decade or so and we have had some good seasons away from home but the last couple have been a test of devotion.
“But we still travel in a good number and we always have that optimism that it is going to be a good season – whether that feeling lasts a week, six weeks or the whole season.
“Travelling almost 10,000 miles is obviously a very long way but it is something we enjoy doing,” added Mark, who is engaged to Jenni Shaw and the pair are due to wed next summer during the close season.
The highest ever amount of miles travelled by the Pools team and fans was during the 2010-11 season, when the club covered a record breaking 10,500 miles.
Mark Simpson, media manager at Pools, said: “We have always known that Hartlepool United fans are among the best in the country.
“We regularly travel the furthest in the whole of the Football League but despite the distance we still have a very good away following at every game.
“We are really proud of our away following and we are looking forward to that continuing in the upcoming 2014-15 season.”
Exeter City isn’t far behind Plymouth Argyle at 344.9 miles, while Portsmouth is the third and final club whose ground is over 300 miles away from The Vic with Fratton Park a 326.5 mile journey.
New arrivals from the Conference have added to the upcoming season’s mileage with Luton Town weighing in with a 228.3 mile one-way trip and Cambridge United a mere 208.7 miles on the road.
Meanwhile, relegated Stevenage are 224 miles away from The Vic, while Shrewsbury Town also came down from League One and Greenhous Meadow is 194.1 miles from Hartlepool.
The nearest away trips will see Pools travel to York City, a 116.2 mile round trip, and another meeting with relegated Carlisle United who sit 89.1 miles from The Vic.
Pools fans will be able to plan their epic journeys when the Football League fixtures are released on Wednesday, June 18.