Blues fan walks to home match - from Loftus

Andy Lever who is walking from Loftus to Whitby, with his dog Ibby, to raise funds for Whitby Town FC
Andy Lever who is walking from Loftus to Whitby, with his dog Ibby, to raise funds for Whitby Town FC

WHITBY Town supporter Andy Lever, will be walking to the Blues’ Boxing Day home game with North Ferriby United.

Nothing unusual in that, you might think, but Andy lives nearly 15 miles away in Loftus.

The passionate Town fan will also be joined by his one-year-old springer spaniel Ibby, named after Whitby defender Ibrahim Hassan, on the sponsored trek along the Cleveland Way, in aid of the football club.

Whitby Town chairman Graham Manser said: “It’s a great idea, but a long walk.”

He added that the club was “totally behind” Andy and that sponsor forms are on the wall of the clubhouse at the Turnbull Ground.

Andy (44), known to some fans as Danger Mouse after dressing up as the cartoon rodent to lead the Whitby players out last season, moved to Loftus from Doncaster last year.

He told the Whitby Gazette: “It was always my dream to move to the Whitby area eventually, as I had ties through my Grandma.

“She was born in Yorkshire, but moved to Lebanon - every trip to England was the same though - she rented a cottage between the Saltersgate pub and Fylingdales.

“I’d been a diehard West Ham United fan since the mid 70s and come the early 80s it was fashionable to have a second team, so Whitby Town became mine.”

Like many football fans recently, rising costs caused a re-think for Andy, around five years ago.

“By 2005-06, I was sick of paying stupid money out at West Ham and came to watch a couple more Town games.

“I fell back in love with real football again - I was amazed at how well the club was run and how great the supporters were and wish I’d started coming more often years ago.”

Andy credits Whitby’s club shop manager George Osborne with helping him make his decision, after opening up the store and ground especially so he could buy a replica shirt. He also says George and wife Maureen have assisted with an encouraging search for donations, adding: “It seems to be going down pretty well.

“Within 20 to 25 minutes of the sponsor forms coming out, we had four or five names on each one.

Andy jokes that even groundsman Eric Wilson might assist if bad weather threatens to scupper the journey, claiming: “If it snows, I’m sure we can get Eric out in his tractor.

“We usually walk between three and five miles, but we’ll get there don’t worry.”

Around a decade ago, Andy walked 174 miles for a little girl who needed life-saving treatment and it took five or six days.

He’s also planning to use modern means to keep fans up to date with his progress, though admitted he’s still getting to grips with some of it:

“I’m not too sure how to use Twitter. I’ll do it with the checking-in facility on Facebook.”

Andy is also hoping to be able to lead out Whitby Town against North Ferriby United, if he and Ibby make it to the Turnbull before 3pm.

Sponsors can contact Andy on 07508 837425, particularly any businesses or individuals offering two high visibility jackets. Forms will be available at the Whitby Town v Buxton game on Saturday.