Winters in Charlotte, North Carolina are not that brutal. Yes, when it hits the 60's (Fahrenheit), many are seen donning a jacket. No matter how mild it could be, there is not a single person who does not daydream about sitting on a beach on an island with a cool drink in hand. It is no surprise when I mentioned to my wife the next group I was interviewing for our Leeds supporter series, she jumped on the iPad and started pulling up island trips.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Fuerteventura Branch Leeds United Supporters Club.
Founded only 2 years ago, Fuerteventura is still relatively new to the supporters club scene. Nestled on the northern tip of the Canary Island Fuerteventura, the branch calls the resort town of Corralejo home. If you ever find yourself strolling along Calle Juan de Austria, you will happen across The Corner House. I suggest going in, grab a pint of Tropical, and tell the bar keep you have Leeds business to attend to.
"I am an avid fan," branch head John Holliday tells me. "Since moving to the island five years ago, [I have] greatly missed going to all the games."
When discussing how The Corner House became the "home away from home" for Leeds fans, John put it simply.
"We have some Chelsea fans come in the bar who refer to it as 'a Chelsea bar', but who never go to games. I thought I would officially make it a 'Leeds bar'."
The numbers of members who live in Corralejo tops out at 15. However, being a resort town, the numbers swell when fans come on holiday or the "part-timers" return to their houses "which made the total in the first year 44," Holliday informs me.
"The ones who come on holiday regularly are only members if they actually go to games."
This is an interesting notion to me.
In the States, recruiting for a club is huge. On a Saturday morning before dawn breaks, I have seen fans recruit and recruit hard. Yes, you will have fans who have been able to afford trips across the pond to see their clubs play. However, a vast majority (in my own opinion) are confined to waking up at 6am to catch the play at the local bar. The closest Major League Soccer (MLS) club to Charlotte is currently over six hours away in Washington (my club D.C. United). I guess I have always viewed it as if you can add one more to the family, why not? However, I understand making sure that loyalty is there so you do not end up with a bandwagon fan (looking at you L.A. Galaxy and Chelsea).
Most members are season ticket holders, with Holliday attending around ten games a season. If they can't make the pilgrimage to Yorkshire, you can be assured that this group will find a way to follow Leeds.
"We watch all live games on Sky [or] BEIN", Holliday continues,"otherwise streaming (if possible) or listen to live commentary on Leeds United TV (LUTV)."
(That is another thing I have to get used to is listening to matches. All U.S. Soccer Division III (United Soccer League) matches are streamed for free in high definition. I was astonished that I could not get the same service for Leeds.)
Anyways, Holliday was kind enough to be the next
guinea pig fan to take The Hot Seat.
THE HOT SEAT
If you had the ability to change one thing about LU, what would it be?
If you were recruiting a fan and could use only one word to describe the fandom, what would it be? Why?
Someone who goes to games. Too many people say they are big fans, but haven't been to Elland Road for many years. Understandable in a way. [It has been] twelve years since last in the top flight, but we need as much live support as we can.
What is the Leeds United moment that sticks in your head (good or bad)?
Getting relegated in 2007 from the Championship, away to Bolton, 4,000 Leeds fans, one minute added time and everyone immediately singing 'we're going down in a minute'. It has been a long road since then.
What is it about Leeds United that made you become a fan?
I was born and bred in Leeds. My father supported them since the 1920's and I from 1967. Who else would you support?
Well said, Holliday. Well said.
For more information about the Leeds United Fuerteventura Branch, check out their Facebook page.
Are you a member of a supporters group? Let us highlight you. Reach me on Twitter at @johnhorne3, or leave your group's information in the comments below. #MOT