In the age of the internet it is common to find supporters of football club`s that are based thousands of miles away from where they live. The likes of Manchester City and Manchester United have millions of followers from all four corners of the globe who stay up til the early hours of the morning to watch the live games and spend hundreds of pounds on merchandise each year. With the Premier League screened to Billions of people around the world every week, it is very easy for football fans in China, India etc to follow a team that has World Class talent such as David Silva and Wayne Rooney. As you go down the leagues you will no doubt find some fans of club`s such as Bury and Leyton Orient popping up in North America or down under in Australia but they would more than likely be ex pats keeping the flag flying high. If you were to delve deeper into non-league, you would find it hard to find a supporter of a club 20 miles away from where the team is from but Radcliffe Borough have a loyal group of supporters over 3500 miles away in the state of Maryland, USA. Lee Radcliffe is the man responsible for this amazing story and he tells how a club that struggles to attract support in its own town, attracted a bunch of Soccer fanatics across the Atlantic.
“I discovered The Boro when researching Radcliffe on the internet in approx. 2006. I was showing my daughter what I believed to be our ancestral home and I sent an email to the supporters club which I believe was commented on by the world-famous TGOTT, along the lines of Blimmin heck, we`ve got American supporters. I then started communicating regularly with the supporters there and put together a loosely-knit American supporters group here in Maryland with friends and family required to join. I`ve been to Radcliffe on four separate occasions, first in 1984 on my first trip to England. I found the town by accident whilst visiting Manchester and took a quick tram ride out and had lunch in a local hotel that I cannot remember the name of and I wish I had taken a picture and finally went to the library for some local history and that was that. Then, Gail and I came over in April 2007 to watch as many matches as we could. Our first game was a 2-1 defeat at home to Guiseley and even though we were badly jet-lagged, we enjoyed the hospitality from the Club especially from the Supporter`s Club run by Graham Evans and David Greenough, and Dave and Muriel Johnston who gave us a tour of the facilities before we met the team and were interviewed by intrepid reporter Marc Higginson (Now at the BBC). For the last game of that season we took the coach to Ilkeston which was full of Boro fans in fancy dress and saw a thrilling last-minute victory from a goal by Ian Fitzpatrick.
In 2008, Gail and I returned, along with 3 members of the US Supporters Club – Pete Pakenas, Justin Caserta, and Scotty Reife. Once again, a good time was had by all, and I especially remember the coach trip to Ossett where again it was fancy dress and beating the home side 3-2, which helped knock them out of playoff contention. We also made the front page of the Radcliffe Times which has resulted in us being constantly plagued by autograph hounds!! We returned last Spring with my Nephew Andrew and his wife Amanda (and little Connor, who was born later in August and is an affirmed Boro fan). We had beautiful weather the entire time we were there, we saw Boro unfortunately lose at Harrogate and found out that Yorkshire and Lancashire might still be fighting the War of the Roses and not to mention their pitch was rough even by American standards!. Before seeing the draw vs Chester City, and then finally a 5-3 win against Trafford in the last game of the season. Once again the hospitality of the Club and its supporters was fantastic, we couldn`t have felt more at home and we have to give special thanks to Dave and John Walker for all of the rides that they provided. Every time we`ve come to Radcliffe we`ve tried to spend as much time around the Club as possible, taking side trips when the team aren`t playing visiting London, the Lake District, York, and Scotland during our trips across the Pond.
“With no TV coverage and little Radio coverage, it is hard to keep up to date with a team that plys it`s trade at Level 8 of the English pyramid system but RBFC USA continues to find a way. It`s easy to follow the Boro from America on the internet – the Club website is very helpful we`ve also been able to get the rare video feed (FC United), and radio feeds via the internet as well. Facebook (TGOTT and Robson), Twitter (John MCFC Walker), and text messages from Johno all help out. It`s amazing how small the world has become in the last several years because of the internet. In a country dominated by the four major sports NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB, the response that you follow a small soccer team in England must get some strange looks but Lee tells it has been well received over in the States. The response of family and friends has been very positive – many of my friends are English Premier League fans and now show more interest in the non-league game as well. The American Supporters Club spans the globe now, as Gail`s son Alex is in South Korea proudly wearing his Boro pin!”
It is not just fanatical support as well that RBFC USA has given the club, they have also got involved in the financial side as well, helping out the club when they can. The American Supporters Club has sponsored players during the years we have been involved with the Club. I think we were also members of the Lifeline Club for a while. We sponsored an advertising board for several years before your weather wore it out and have also been fans of the Boro Shop and its clothing and memorabilia which I hope comes back soon. We had to be careful with the betting programs – our government frowns on them – certainly because there`s no tax money in it for them!!. It is not just us as well that has contributed to the club, Joe Cohen a Mancunian ex pat living in Maryland has also visited Stainton Park and purchased a board to advertise his British Goodies business here in Frederick. The club are very appreciative of the support and it is something that still takes some getting used to today with Chairman Bernard Manning commenting. It`s amazing really, we struggle for support on our own doorstep and here we have a group of lovely, enthusiastic people 3500 miles away who love to get involved and always want to keep up to date with what`s happening at the club. I hope the friendship lasts for many more years and Lee, Gail and the rest of the American Boro fans will always be welcome at Stainton Park and we all can`t wait to see them again. No matter what happens in the future Lee and Gail are delighted they found and took an interest in the club adding. It amazes me to this day that finding out about The Boro has led to our making friends and relationships we would never have had otherwise. We were blessed to be able to meet Emily Swarbrick and Alice Kinney before they left us but I wish I`d had the opportunity to meet Bernard Manning, Sr, as well. We intend to support the Mighty Boro to higher football glory and will always visit when we can in the future, if you`re ever in the US of A, don`t hesitate to call!”