(Image via themirror.co.uk)
Following Wolves from home and away is just normal life for most of us. But how about fans who live in a different country? David Evans spoke to a few Wolves fans who live and work abroad to find out their experiences.
You’re walking away from Molineux from a winter floodlight game. The bitter cold snapping at your fingers. Your voice drained from chants, songs and cries of frustration. Beer swigged, jokes shared and legs aching. You leave WV1 either rejoicing a victory, bemoaning a defeat or your nerves being thrown all over the place like the hydron collider.
Not all of us can make the trip to Molineux or follow the gold and black army on their travels. Not just because of finances or other commitments, but because you live in a completely different country. This doesn’t stop some fans but for the most of them, the distance between Wolverhampton and their home town is unquestionably far.
So, what is it like following the Wolves from another shore? How do you keep up to date with the coming and going from another timezone? Do your fellow countrymen even know who Wolves are? We cast our net and spoke to some Wolves fans from afar to see how they follow the men from Molineux.
How long have you lived abroad? What were your reasons for leaving the UK? Or, have you been a fan abroad since birth?
Matthew Eades, 45, Ottwa Canada
I’ve been living in Canada since 2005 (married a Canadian) but left my home town of Tipton in 1989 when I joined the Army. While in the Army spent the vast amount of time based overseas. When leaving the Army 1998 I spent time in the UK and Central Europe contracting, before living in Australia for 2 years then heading to Canada via the UK for a year. So as you can see I have spent a lot of time following my beloved Wolves from a far.
Dennis Pratt, 22, Gueterslosh, Germany
I was born in Germany , We moved to Germany as my dad got sent other with the army.
Jonathan Hunter, 26, Cape Verde
Since April 2013, I was working is hospitality in the UK with poor hours, and thought if I want to do something similar it would be better to do it in a nicer climate so became holiday rep.
Melissa Kenny, Massachusetts, USA
I used to work for a US company that had an office in Stafford and I generally traveled there every other month. I became friends with my local counterpart who is a Wolves supporter and so as I became a fan of football, I adopted Wolves as my team. At the time there was no football on TV here so it was just as easy to pick Wolves as any other team.
Mark, 43, Mandurah, Australia
Lived here for 11 and half years – moved for a challenge really and to better the kids’ life.
What was it like when you followed your first game abroad?
Matt – In the early days (1990-1992) I was posted to Cyprus with no such thing as social media, it was tough. No streaming services, no commentary on Forces radio, no cells, results were courtesy of Forces TV that showed Grandstand or calling home for match reports. As my Army days continued through Europe contact with home was more accessible by the late 90’s near the end of my Army days, text scores were sent These were followed by performance texts of ‘played well’ or a simple ‘sh*t’. Proper match reports though only small would be in news papers a few days delayed, or my weekly call home, though all through my career pretty much you found the score out by Forces TV showing Grandstand for example but match reports if not in top tier was a call home to the family.
Dennis – I try to watch every game but since there are hardly any live coverages it is hard to watch all of them , If i do not find a stream for a game if not I’m on twitter the whole time and refresh every minute.
Mark – Very difficult to actually follow the games for the first few years – we arrived on Star Wars day 2003 and Wolves were in the Playoff Final against Sheffield Utd a few weeks later. We were visiting friends in Adelaide so the time difference meant it started around 12 – 1 a.mish. There was no TV coverage there so I had to internet stream radio commentary. Internet in Aus is slow now – let alone then. I missed every goal commentary thanks to the buffering sign!
What do other people think when you tell them you’re a Wolves fan abroad? Do they know who Wolves are?
Matt – Depending on their knowledge of ‘soccer’ the main responses are – Weren’t they in the Premiership a few years back? Where are they now? Where is Wolverhampton? What is the Black Country? Usually in that order.
Dennis – As I have a tattoo of the Wolves badge on the bottom of my wrist I nearly always get asked what it is , but most of the boys around here who have general knowledge about football still know Wolves from there Premier League days.
Jonathan – Decent understanding of Wolves from some locals. Usual responses are ‘the team in orange, right’? (They are quickly corrected)! Or ‘what division are they in’? Or why not Chelsea/ Man Utd etc?!
I was watching the JTP match on Sky v Notts Country and the only other people in the bar were a couple of elderly greek chaps who didn’t speak any English but they got into supporting us. Which was good, as the match certainly wasn’t.
How do you follow the games?
Matt – Currently there is a 5 hour time difference, if possible as I subscribe to the Wolves website I listen to live commentary, ( this is dependent on my sons ice hockey travel and match/practice schedule on the weekend). I also follow official wolves on twitter and Tim Nash from the E&S which I use while in the hockey rinks during game time, and my brother also sends messages during the game (old faithful). If Wolves are on Sky I can usually stream this here in Canada but those luxuries are hard these days, unlike the premiere games when I would watch Wolves live all the time.
Jonathan – Twitter mainly, don’t know what I’d do without it. Any games on sky I normally manage to get to see in a taverna or bar. Not bad in terms of time differences. Greece was 2 hours ahead so some of the night games went on a bit late, but not so bad that it would prevent me staying up following it.
Melissa – I generally follow on Twitter though often on a delay as there is a five hour time difference. I just installed the OneFootball app on my phone so I get goal alerts from there. Sometimes the games are shown here on the beIn Sports cable network so I either watch live or record the match on my DVR (in which case I avoid Twitter and the web so as not to spoil the match.)
What has been the most memorable or stressful game you have watch or followed abroad?
Dennis – The most nervous moment had to be the playoffs final against Sheffield Utd. I could not watch the match as I had a match for my local football team, so as I reached half time I could finally call my dad and get the result , as you could expect I was over the moon.
Jonathan – Following the Cardiff match on Twitter on the beach with the late own goal was pretty good! Went a bit mental. And managed to see the Crawley match on Sky with Griffiths late penalty, turned a few heads in the bar at around 1am.
Mark – In 2009 I was fortunate enough to see Wolves when Mick McCarthy brought them over to WA and played in a 4 team comp against Perth Glory and Queensland Fury. Fulham also came over but didn’t play Wolves. I went the whole hog – face paint,flag, stupid wig and Wolfie mascot – my son was a bit embarrassed to say the least – I have photos if you promise not to publish them!!
Do you still feel a connection to the club and your fellow fans?
Jonathan – Very much so! It helps that I still get to go every season, but twitter is a massive thing for me to follow on goings. Haven’t had as much time out here and internet a bit iffy, so not been on blogs/ forums or listening to yourselves as much as I’d like, but when I do, all helps keep me in touch and feel part of the club.
Melissa – I feel a connection through Twitter and through your podcast. Many English teams have local supporter clubs here in Boston and they gather on game days at a local bar to watch their team on TV. It would be great to have a local Wolves supporter group in Boston as well but I don’t know any other local Wolves supporters.
Mark – Thanks to Facebook, internet in general and of course your podcast (Jeez – why don’t I just marry you all!!) I feel a connection still, but of course, I miss the Saturday afternoon banter in the pub or attending games –I used to go to about 3 home games a season plus every (soft southern) away game e.g. Southend, QPR, Charlton, Brighton etc.
As a side note, my first official date with my now wife was at the old Den in October 1992. It was a live game on ITV and pissed down but went ahead anyway due to the cameras I reckon. We could only get tickets for the Millwall end, so I made sure to put on my best cockney accent and zip my jacket up to my neck to hide my away shirt (still got it –remember the blue one with a paint effect sponsored by Goodyear).
There you have it. Being a fan in Wolverhampton of the UK can be easy enough. But the follow our team from a different isle is something else. We salute all you fellow fans who follow the gold and black army, raise your flags, drive with the bumper sticker and wear your replica t-shirts with pride.
Are you a Wolves fan living abroad? Share your experiences on the comment thread below.
(Other images via zimbo.com and expressandstar.com)