The incredible journey
- Sun 18 Apr 2010, 12:04PM
- Posted by David Clayton
Iceland's volcanic ash cloud is throwing numerous extraordinary tales of City supporters and the lengths they will go to watch their beloved Blues.
However, with all UK flights grounded since the middle of last week, the Etihad ‘Coming Home’ winners have a story that ranks up there with the very best of them.
The problems caused by Eyjafjallajoekull – that’s name of the troublesome Icelandic volcano in question – have spread across Europe and have disrupted travel across the globe, but happily, Steve Salt and his son Nik just made it in time for the Manchester derby.
Toronto-based Steve was actually entered into the competition by one of his sons, David, back in November and his entry received 20% of the 8,500 votes polled.
The Salt family are die-hard Blues and though Steve left Manchester in 1979 for a new life in Canada, his passion for City has never dimmed. But he couldn’t have imagined the epic journey that awaited him when he prepared to fly back ‘home’.
The first leg went to according plan with an Etihad flight from Toronto to Abu Dhabi on Tuesday evening, but flight restrictions imposed in the UK meant the trip to Manchester the following day had to be cancelled.
Etihad attempted to get the Salts on their way on Thursday, but again there were no direct flights to Manchester so Plan B was put into action – get to the match by any means possible!
A flight to Paris was the next logical option, but when French airspace also enforced severe restrictions, a 2am flight to Geneva was organised instead as the race to beat the ash cloud gathered pace
...Etihad epic journey
From Geneva, the Salts jumped on a luxury coach to Paris for nine hours, arriving at 6pm.
But there’s more!
Etihad had attempted to sort out a rail journey on Eurostar, it became clear that everyone else struggling to get back to the UK was trying the same options and it was fully booked.
Finally, an Etihad party travelling back from Disneyland Paris at 11pm had two spare seats so the Salts jumped on that, crossed the Channel on severely delayed ferry and finally arrived on English soil at 6am.
An Etihad limo then met them at a motorway services on the M20 at 8am then it was a case of ‘don’t spare the horses’ all the way to Manchester. Happily, they made it with just 10 minutes to go before kick-off.
Though the result was forgettable, the journey most certainly wasn’t. Well done to Steve and Nik and all the Etihad representatives along the way who ensured these two loyal Blues eventually did get to come home.