It was Blackpool in August when I became aware just how active our international fan clubs now are. Seeing the FFC Sweden contingent I got into conversation with president and founder Kenneth Bylund and his son Niclas at half-time. Sadly at the final whistle I failed to locate the young lady sporting a Team USA shirt in honour of Clint.
Running the blog this season has been something of an eye-opener for me when it comes to those who follow FFC from afar. It does make you question your own commitment when you meet people who are giving up their weekends and spending hundreds of pounds to fly in and feed their fetish for Fulham.
Nic in Sweden makes the point, mirrored by my own mailbag since July. "We do seem to have a huge following in the USA. Over half of unique visitors to the web site (Hammy End.com) which I help run are from the US or Down Under." Nic boasts 60 active members and knows that we are for many Swedes their 2nd favourite club. There's a Stockholm pub where they all meet to take in the TV games, while Nic's job in the travel industry means he gets over a few times a year to see the Whites in action. "I'll be in London for the World Travel Market in November and hope to take in the games with Villa and Chelsea. Over the years I've been to Motspur Park many times and been lucky enough to meet a lot of players, the managers and people behind the scenes. I'm also a bit of a ground hopper and you could say I do like coming to England. I consider myself an Anglophile and we put a lot of energy into content on our Hammy End site. At the start it was all being done in Swedish as well as English but that was too much work."
Closely linked to Nic are the FFC Sweden brigade, where Mattias Berg and his crew are also regulars at O'Connell's pub along Stockholm's Gamla Stan whenever the Whites feature on the box. Now in the past two months alone we've added official fan clubs in Norway, Finland and Holland! This club is really on the march.
So with our long time buddies Fulham USA finally getting their brand new site up and running I felt this was a good juncture to welcome all of the above into football's friendliest family. Just for your information, and for those from other lands who would also like to march behind Michiel Hageman's monster new flag (how's it coming along Michiel?), here are the rewards for getting aboard. It's well worth signing up.
The club officially recognises all overseas fan clubs with a minimum register of 10 paid members and enrolls them into the following programme: Ticketing priority, ticket discounts and an exclusive members' pack:
Official status awarded with Certification of Affiliation and details on official club website
Signed Kit plus Monthly Prize Draw
This blog is here for you guys. Do let me know when you're coming over to games or if you need any advice on travel, hotels, pubs and things to do around the game. Let us know what you're up to, why Fulham, and how it is for you in your own countries showing allegiance to Fulham FC. On a personal note, I'd like to hear from any Whites fans along Florida's Space Coast - I fancy a little winter condo one day in Brevard County...
In the meantime, if you wanna get all 'international' and exchange greetings, here's the list:
www.fulhamusa.com (rebuilding database having lost old data so get signed in yanks)
FFC Sweden and Nic Bylund welcome new members at www.FFCSweden.se
Michiel Hageman's Dutch group FFC web site http://cc.fulhamfc.com/profile/MichielHageman
Eric Bilet is behind our Norwegian followers on http://cc.fulhamfc.com/group/fscn
The Finns officially joined Oct 6th! Contact here http://cc.fulhamfc.com/group/fulhamfinland
I believe a Canadian group is pending, and let's also not forget the Fulham Exiles. Look forward to hearing from all of you and hope you get plenty to cheer this season!
COYW Fans...wherever you are. Follow me on Twitter @fulhamphil