BLACKBURN Rovers can once again this season count on the passionate backing of supporters based on the other side of the world.
Members of the Blackburn Rovers Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ) supporters’ network cheer on Rovers from the Southern Hemisphere.
Although BRANZ members are without a dedicated website they communicate through the Blackburn Rovers Football Club Supporters (www.brfcs.com) and Vital Blackburn (www.blackburn.vitalfootball.co.uk) sites as well as through social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.
BRANZ also run an email list to ensure the loyal Rovers supporters in Australia and New Zealand have the chance to meet up and discus their beloved club – wherever they are based.
Brisbane-based John Leigh, who was the catalyst for forming BRANZ in 2010, said: “Because Australia and New Zealand are such massive places and there are so few Rovers fans we’ve had to create a pretty effective network that allows people to connect with others who are in a similar location.
“We have a contact person and a group in all the state capitals.
“This allows for visitors to Australia and New Zealand to find a friendly face and also helps those who’ve relocated over here as well as people travelling inter-state for holidays or work purposes.”
Gatherings for live games have been less frequent following Rovers’ relegation from the Premier League in 2012.
But despite the nine-hour time difference a group of supporters in Brisbane, including John, got together at 4.45am this morning to watch Gary Bowyer’s side’s big Championship opener against Cardiff City.
John, whose Oswaldtwistle-based father Ian won one of the 20 Golden Tickets Rovers are giving away this summer, tries to arrange meetings up to six times a year.
He said: “I’m not best placed to comment on the other states but here in Brisbane we get together at least four-six times a year, usually in a pub and basically we talk Rovers, drink beer and eat food – and sometimes we’ll also get together at Brisbane Roar games.
“There's a good mix of backgrounds – we’re not all ex-Lancashire lads – and it’s interesting to hear everybody’s Rovers story.”
If you would like to know more about BRANZ you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
John is on Twitter @BrisbaneRover