KALININGRAD, Russia (Reuters) - Ploughing through nearly 2,000km of autobahns and city traffic, Beat Studer and his trusty tractor rumbled into Kaliningrad on Thursday having completed an epic World Cup journey to watch his beloved Switzerland take on Serbia.
Shining brightly under a mid-day sun, the 1964 vintage crimson red tractor pulled into a Kaliningrad Stadium parking lot having reached the finish line of a 12-day odyssey that began just outside Lucerne and will culminate, Studer hopes, on Friday with a Swiss victory in the Group E showdown.
Studer, who owns a tractor museum, and two friends Werner Zimmermann and Josef Wyer came up with the idea after Switzerland qualified for Russia but decided they would only undertake the adventure if they could do something positive.
They decided they would do the trip for Swiss children’s’ charities and have so far raised close to 20,000 Swiss Francs ($20,173.5).
“With the tractor we have no problems,” explained Wyer, who drove the support van and handled logistics while Studer and Zimmermann took turns at the wheel of the tractor for six hours each day.
“I had the problem with the two drivers because every night when they finished driving I would tell them they are like the two on the Muppet show because always they are like children.
“Normally a man one time in his life can do something like this so we had really, really good time together.”
“Stupid ideas come only when you are a little bit drunken,” added Weir with a hearty laugh.
Luckily for the Swiss trio they had abstained on Saturday when the tractor was pulled over by police in Poland just before entering the Russian enclave where Studer was breathalyzed for suspected drunk driving.
Finding unconventional ways to get to travel to a World Cup are becoming as much a part of the event as penalty kicks.
Earlier, a Briton sailed from Bulgaria to Volgograd in a yacht to watch the England’s opening Group G clash against Tunisia, while many have biked from near and far.
As strange as getting to a World Cup by tractor may seem Studer and his friends are not first, not even for the 2018 World Cup.
German soccer fan Hubert Wirth beat them to the pitch driving his tractor from Germany to Moscow to catch a glimpse of his national team.
Studer and his friends, however, were content to simply enjoy the ride.
“We saw many different landscape, different kind of people,” said Studer. “Nobody booed us because we were traveling with the tractor.
“This was so nice.”
Editing by Christian Radnedge