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Devoted soccer fan cycles 3,000 miles to watch every away game

The die-hard fan has now become an iconic figure at the club that he's supported for more than 40 years.

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Mark Crowther at Riverside Stadium, home of Middlesbrough F.C. (Mark Crowther via SWNS)

By Ben Turner via SWNS

A devoted soccer fan has cycled almost 3,000 miles to watch EVERY away game of his beloved boyhood club.

Mark Crowther, 55, dedicated 200 hours to riding his bike to all 27 of Luton Town's away games this season.

The die-hard fan has now become an iconic figure at the club that he's supported for more than 40 years.

Mark's epic journey, which he spent two years planning, has raised more than £12,000 ($14,831) for three charities.

Mark Crowther at Select Car Leasing Stadium, home of Reading F.C. (Mark Crowther via SWNS)
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Mark, a pricing analyst from Milton Keynes, England, said: "It's basically been my life for a year but I wouldn't change a thing.

"I didn't know how it would be received but the reaction has exceeded my expectations.

"You get to the stadium on your bike and some home fans ask 'did you cycle here?' and you say yes - then they go straight-faced."

Mark's challenge, in which he totted up 2,810 miles, ended last Saturday when he cycled to watch Luton lose 7-0 against Fulham.

He donned a tuxedo for the ride in exchange for a £1,200 ($1,483) donation from one supporter.

Mark's challenge has taken him as far as Preston and Blackpool - with each trip requiring three days of cycling with stop-offs to arrive in time for kick-off.

He said his toughest journey was a 240-mile slog in March to Middlesborough in the pouring rain.

Mark, who got into cycling six years ago, said: "You're on your bike through cold weather and rain.

Mark Crowther at Craven Cottage, home of Fulham F.C. (Mark Crowther via SWNS)

"During the winter when it was below freezing you lose all sense of feeling in your fingers and feet - and then you get a puncture.

"But the fans have been so supportive. I've never felt on my own because of all the support and encouragement.

"The players have been great too. To know they're mentioning me is bonkers bearing in mind they're my heroes.

"At a couple of matches I arrived tired and cold and the club got me fed and made sure I had everything."

Luton Town's supporters' club - the Bobbers - helped transport Mark's bags while he was cycling and gave him and his bike a lift home after each away match.

He's also been given signed shirts from his favorite players who have supported the challenge, which has raised almost £13,000 ($16,067) for three charities - Campaign Against Living Miserably, Prostate Cancer UK, and Keech Hospice Care.

Mark said the challenge was also motivated by difficulties he faced during the COVID-19 lockdown.

He said: "When COVID hit it really affected me. I struggled with depression. I was even struggling to leave the house.

"Luton was my outlet. I went from going to the football and work to not seeing anyone.

"This project gave me some drive. It helped me to focus on something and take the focus away from me.

Mark Crowther at bet365 Stadium, home of Stoke City F.C. (Mark Crowther via SWNS).

"If someone told me two years ago I'd do this I wouldn't have believed them. It took two years of planning."'

Mark's commitment was recognised at the EFL Awards in April where he was one of three finalists for 'supporter of the season' out of 72 clubs.

Gary Sweet, chief executive of Luton Town FC, said: "We are so proud of what Mark has achieved this season.

"He has shown the same determination and spirit that Luton Town Football Club is renowned for, battling storms and COVID to complete his challenge.

"He has gained so much awareness for three great charities, as well as smashing his £10,000 fundraising target, and fully deserved to be shortlisted for EFL Supporter of the Season at the league’s awards.

"Now we want to see him back on his bike for a couple more rides before the season ends."

Mark's fundraising page can be found here.

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