"What if your team loses?"

That was the question which kept echoing in Stuart Dye's head, when the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday deputy editor made a crazy dash around the world to watch his beloved Tranmere Rovers try to win promotion back into the English professional football ranks.

And lose they did, in front of a sparsely populated Wembley Stadium, going down 1-3 to Forest Green.

It means Tranmere, a club which lives in the considerable shadow of neighbours Liverpool, remains in non-league football for a third season while Forest Green, from a tiny Gloucestershire town, try to hang on in the big time for the first time.


Dye was trying to take the loss well when we rang him this morning.

"Was it worth it...I don't know?," he said from London, as he prepared to dash back to work in Auckland.

"I think the best part was in the pub beforehand, when I heard people saying 'There's a lad from New Zealand who's come over for the game.'

"It was horrible. We were never in the game. It's not as if I could say 'if only this or that had happened'. I'm pretty emotional. Maybe I shouldn't say too much right now."

Dye's story struck a chord with sports fans, a 41-year-old making a pilgrimage of sorts, with memories fresh of how he fell in love with Tranmere as a 13-year-old.

By the time Dye gets home he will have travelled more than 36,000km, spending 55 hours in the air and about the same time on the ground in London "all to watch 22 men kick a ball for 90 minutes".

The mad dash represents what being a fan can be all about, even if most fans never go to such extreme lengths.

As Dye stated in his preview piece for NZME, life can get in the way, and the obsession with a club's ups and downs can fade. But moving to New Zealand did little to diminish Dye's passion if his car's TRFC number plate is anything to go by.

And when it came to the crunch, he was back on board, literally, boarding pass in hand.

After composing himself after the disappointing result, Dye reckoned: "Life's short so why not do something stupid once in a while? Admittedly, three hours after the game it feels utterly stupid...but I'll never look back with regret."