Blogger, Armel Tanguy shines a light on the stranger side of football's followers.
The Premier League's biggest clubs’ fan bases are ever-increasing and already count at their peak, over 70 million followers across social medias.
The successes that Manchester United and Arsenal amongst others have enjoyed over the last two decades, coupled with the seemingly limitless reach of the internet, have seen huge followings emerge in even the most unlikely corners of the world.
Immense broadcast and sponsorship deals – that show no signs of decreasing - have done little to bridge the gap between England’s elite clubs and their lower league counterparts.
However, those that follow the game do so to feed a primitive human desire to feel part of a tribe.
All levels of football present passion, and it is that passion that has allowed numerous stories of quite bizarre overseas followings to emerge in England’s lower leagues, here are just a few.
In the Isthmian League Division One South, a brilliantly unusual bond came to light between twice Club World Cup winners Corinthians, of Sao Paulo, and the aptly named Corinthian Casuals.
Believe it or not, Brazilian outfit Corinthians Paulista are actually named after the Surrey team that once defeated Manchester United 11-3, following the club’s trip to Sao Paulo in 1910.
Legendary Brazil captain Socrates played a half for the original Corinthians when the two teams re-united in Brazil in 1988 and Danilo repeated the gesture in January 2015.
Unusually for an amateur team, the Casuals have over ten thousand Twitter followers, many of whom are based in Brazil. This sort of bond surpasses any trophy fuelled love that most long-distance fans of superstar teams swear by.
Moving up to League One and Notts County, the oldest professional league club in the world, who have never quite reached the giddy heights of success that city neighbours Nottingham Forest tasted in the late 70s.
As a result, the Magpies’ following beyond British waters has never been more than a ripple in a sea of football adoration - until this season’s hilarious and strange events.
When Hungarian striker Balint Bajner signed for the club in the summer, only those who noted the antics on Ipswich’s Facebook page the previous season would have expected a Hungarian invasion of the club.
‘No Bajner, no party’ appeared on all the Magpies’s online posts, so much so that all Hungarian registered IP addresses were banned from Notts County’s fan page due to the traffic caused.
The reason for the posts are in part ironic, but whatever the motive, over 100 Hungarians turned up at Leyton Orient in February 2015, to see Bajner register his first goal for Notts County.
Bajner celebrated with the visiting public, some of whom had flown over purposely for the game. This act demonstrates once again the bizarre, yet inspiring nature of the passion found in football.
Orient have a strange story of their own, although it is yet to come to a unique head like that of Corinthian Casuals tours and Notts County’s hungarian fan club.
When Italian millionaire Francesco Bechetti took over at Brisbane Road in the summer of 2014, eventually recruiting compatriot Fabio Liverani as manager, the Italian interest in the club may have seen a miniature spike.
However in February 2015, Agon, a Bechetti owned Italian television channel launched a reality/talent/call it what you like show of which the winner will be offered a professional contract in east London.
Despite the fact Orient’s original fans are less than happy about the dramatization affecting their team’s performance, the club’s chairman will no doubt be hoping that the television program will be able to air a magical fan moment that any football enthusiast would muster a grin at.
Here’s to hoping magical moments like these do not fade away in a world of football that is becoming increasingly measured and plasticised, here’s to hoping raw emotions at all levels of the game are not completely muted.