Coach carrying cock-a-hoop Canaries fans breaks down on way back to Norwich
PUBLISHED: 13:31 05 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:18 06 March 2020
It was a late night for all travelling Canaries fans after Norwich City’s FA Cup win against Tottenham Hotspur went to penalties, but one group faced an even longer return trip after their coach broke down on the way back from the capital.
This particular bunch of a 9,000-strong yellow and green army ended up stuck on the M25 after their coach's engine overheated twice in the space of half a mile.
Tony Abigail was among the hardy souls stuck on the roadside in the cold night - he had planned to drive down to London with friends but got the coach as they couldn't go "because they had to do cross-stitching or something".
He said: "The engine light came on and the driver pulled over to see what had happened - it turned out that the engine had overheated.
"He needed to pour some water in to cool it down, but this was difficult as it was night and we were on the hard shoulder. Access to the engine was on the driver's side, so the flap had to be open and that was overhanging the lane, so he needed spotters to warn other drivers.
"He put the hazards on of course, but I was stood there on the hard shoulder [using] the torch on his phone, waving it so that people could see we were there."
Once the engine had cooled, the supporters were back on the road - but disaster struck again just a few hundred metres down the road when the engine overheated again.
Mr Abigail said: "The driver didn't want to take any chances so he pulled over again and got back on the phone to his head office."
A spokesperson for Maretts Chariots, the company based in Norwich which operated the coach, confirmed that the coach had broken down twice and that, after the second occasion, a replacement was sourced at Birchanger Green Services around 20 miles away to come and take the passengers back to Norfolk.
Mr Abigail, who lives in Worstead, near North Walsham, finally got home at 4am, but said that the travelling hadn't spoiled his mood, or that of anyone else on board.
"Everyone was good humoured and still thrilled about the match. It wasn't ideal, but no-one seemed to be too bothered.
"The driver - Gavin - was brilliant and he and head office kept us informed all the way."