Today brings the end of the road for New Zealand 2015 as the latest FIFA U-20 World Cup reaches its climax.

For three supporters, the tournament's showpiece match between Brazil and Serbia will also represent the conclusion of an epic, 23-match road trip. That journey, which at its peak involved 16 games in nine crazy days - and a 4am start for Qatar-Senegal in Hamilton - was undertaken by Tracey Hodge, Dave Richardson and Dale Warburton: three members of 'Yellow Fever'.

"We're a Wellington Phoenix supporters group, fairly shambolic and totally unofficial," explained Warbuton. "With the U-20 World Cup coming up, we talked about it and thought, 'Why not?' So we've been on the road pretty much every day. The good thing about New Zealand is that it's quite small, so we felt it would be feasible to see a lot of games if we stuck to the five North Island venues. You look at other countries - the Women's World Cup going on in Canada, for example - and there's no way you could do it. Here though, it seemed like a good challenge but also a manageable one."

The itinerary was ambitious all the same, with the unrelenting pace of the group stage - nine four-game matchdays in succession - sending the trio criss-crossing between Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington and Whangarei. As the latter two cities alone are separated by a distance of almost 800 kilometres, long hours together on the road were guaranteed.

"It's been a slog at times," admitted Warburton. "There have been days when we've struggled to remember what day it is, or what city we're heading to." Nodding in agreement, Richardson acknowledged that plenty of friends and family member consider them unhinged for even attempting such a mission. "My work colleagues certainly think that! Taking four weeks off to drive around New Zealand watching football... people can't believe it."

Yet for all the challenges, all the early mornings, late nights and draining journeys, the end of the tournament - and a return to normality - will not be celebrated. "I'm sad it's all going to be over," said Hodge. "There will be positives - sleeping in my own bed for more than a night at a time - but I'm really going to miss it all."

There have been days when we've struggled to remember what day it is, or what city we're heading to.

Dale Warburton

As football fans in a country dominated by other sports, the opportunity to sample so much of the beautiful game - watching 19 of the 24 teams - has been well worth savouring. And there has been some vintage football on show, with one game in particular - Brazil's hugely entertaining 4-2 win over Nigeria - symbolising the unique appeal of a World Cup.

"That was my highlight, at least in terms of the football," admitted Hodge. "It was a pleasure to be there for that."

Yet, as is so often the case when following football, it is the other, off-field elements involved in the experience that have proved just as alluring. As Warburton said: "The best part for me has been meeting the different groups of fans, like Myanmar, and the Uruguayans and Colombians."

"The Colombians were great," agreed Richardson. "When the music cut out and they kept on singing their national anthem, that was really something." "Definitely," enthused Hodge. "I have no connection to Colombia, but I was crying!"

New Zealand's four matches were, of course, a must. And the Junior All Whites' brush with glory against Portugal almost left the gang with a major dilemma.

"If they'd have won that game in the last 16, we'd have had to look at redoing our whole itinerary because New Zealand would have stayed in Hamilton," said Richardson. "That would have been fine, but there was no accommodation there whatsoever. A big farming show was on - very typically New Zealand - and everything was booked up. So we'd have been sleeping in the car for two nights, or driving seven hours each way."

Even without that particular problem, they have rarely been apart - "just when we've gone to the bathroom," said Richardson, laughing - and their friendship has been tested. "But we've managed to avoid any fights," said Hodge. "That's not bad, living in each other's pockets for weeks on end."

And while this football journey is coming to a close, for one of the trio at least, another road is already stretching out ahead. "I've got a wedding in Vancouver to go to now," explained Warburton. "With the Women's World Cup going on there, it would be a shame not to try to squeeze in a few more games!"