After a long season many League of Ireland fans deserve a pat on the back for following their club the length and breadth of the country. In my opinion, away trips are a far different experience from attending a home match and although the chances of a loss go up, nothing seems better than a win on the road in front of a big home crowd.
Travelling to away games is a commitment and carries costs in terms of money and time. Some fans may think they have it harder than others so the chart below shows the total kilometres travelled by a fan who went to all away fixtures in this year’s LOI as measured from each clubs home stadium to the visiting ground. The numbers are only one-way, so in reality you can double the totals!
Unsurprisingly, the Derry City fans have to travel the farthest. To put their 5,228 kilometres in perspective, that would be about the same as leaving the Brandywell and travelling to Georgia (Tblisi is 5055km away according to Google Maps). Cork City fans have the equivalent total distance to cover as a one-way trip to Ankara, Turkey. Waterford fans have the third longest distance to travel. Their total travel over the season would equate to leaving the RSC and heading to Moscow.
One the opposite end, fans of Dublin clubs can take advantage of the fact that many rivals are on their doorstep. Rovers, Pats and Bohs have each other all nearby and have short trips to the north and south for Dundalk and Bray respectively.
In some sense it’s good that there significant travel distances – this is a sign that the spatial structure of the league is balanced. A concern for many small leagues, and something we suffered from in the past, was the emergence of a ‘tramway league’. At the moment having Derry, Sligo, Waterford, Cork and Limerick present is a good thing for the league. Perhaps all that is missing to have a strong regional-capital balance is a competitive team based in Galway.