Back when I was 18, I found myself at a loose end, and for reasons I still don’t fully understand, decided it would be a good idea to seek employment on a Norwegian farmstead.
The first few days proved to be a pretty dislocating experience - from shearing lice-infested cattle to paying £10 for a pint of lager, everything I came across was either difficult or unfamiliar – well, almost everything.
You see, pretty much everybody was obsessed with English football. At the time, the local team, Fredrikstad FK, had just won the Norwegian Cup for the first time in 22 years, but it seemed all anybody wanted to talk about was events taking place across the North Sea.
The fellow I was working for turned out to be a Leeds United fan, while his wife confessed a soft spot for Liverpool. And it didn’t stop there. As well as the usual suspects, I met Leicester City fans, Blackburn Rovers fans, Brentford fans, and so on. I even met a Town fan!
In the years since my Viking adventure, I’ve come to realise that this phenomenon is by no means confined to Norway or Scandinavia. Pretty much everywhere you go, people are willing to profess their love for the English game, as well as their favourite English team.
Now, there are a million and one different reasons to explain why this might be the case -some people are drawn to England because it’s the birthplace of football.
But there’s a difference between admiring something from afar and setting out across land and sea to view it up close – which is exactly what an intrepid trio of European football fanatics are doing this weekend.
Nick Barton is an English émigré who plied his trade in the Swiss 2 League, Teuvo Tuominen is a country-hopping Finnish volleyball coach and Heinz Alder is a former Swiss footballer who is currently the youth coach at 1 League side SC Brühl.
All of them grew up on a diet of Match of the Day, When Saturday Comes, and the wit and wisdom of Brian Clough.
And in honour of the latter, they’re going to the City Ground on Friday to watch Nottingham Forest take on Birmingham, and Pride Park on Saturday to watch Derby County beat Leeds.
But don’t worry, the Wagner Revolution hasn’t escaped their attention. On Sunday, they’ll be joining the Town faithful at the John Smith’s to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of a good old fashioned Yorkshire derby.
So if you happen across a party of middle-aged Europeans on the terraces, be sure to make them feel welcome!
For those of us less travelled, HTSA will be running a coach to Preston on Wednesday, October 19.
Members can reserve a seat for just £10, while non-members can get one for £12. The coach will be departing from the usual place at the stadium at 5pm.
You can book by ringing our Travel Line on 07905 580784 or emailing Robert Pepper at email@example.com
HTSA are also considering running a coach to Fulham on Saturday, October 29 - if you’re interested, you can ring Rachael Gomersall on 07905580784.
For more information on this, further Away Day travel or to get involved, visit the HTSA website or email Ian Lawrence on firstname.lastname@example.org.