'We all follow the West Ham'

With their team top of the German Regionalliga West - the equivalent of League Two - the supporters of Fortuna Köln have had a lot to shout about this season.

For one particular group of fans, Fortuna is no longer hiding when it comes to West Ham United, either.

The Cologne Hammers Supporters' Club was founded in 2012 by a small but committed group of Fortuna Köln followers, who have since shared their love for all things West Ham with fans of other German sides.

"While talking football at home and away games we learned that there are quite a high number of people supporting West Ham within the Fortuna fanbase," revealed Alex Stauf, who co-founded the group with friends Ingo, Natascha, Stephan and Thorsten.

"Hence, we came up with the idea to found a Cologne-based West Ham Supporters' Club, and we have since attracted members who support various other German teams like 1. FC Köln, Bayer Leverkusen, Rot Weiss Erfurt and 1860 München."

Two years on, the Cologne Hammers number nearly 30 members aged 21 to 60, but why do they support West Ham? One answer is punk rock music.

"We love the music of the Cockney Rejects and Cock Sparrer, while for some they have a love of English football in general. Also, there is no way to ignore the significant contribution the West Ham Accademy has made to the overall success of the Premier League.

"Also, once you have been to Upton Park, there is no way back!"

Stauf and his fellow Hammers meet regularly to watch matches live on television at Cologne's selection of Irish pubs, but he admits the group is looking for a permanent new home in the city.

Whenever possible, the Cologne Hammers also fly into London to watch their heroes in person.

"Our two favourite visits were the 3-1 victory over Bolton in May 2007, which was part of the Greatest Escape, and the 2012 Play-Off final win over Blackpool at Wembley!" Stauf confirmed.

Cologne Hammers

The Cologne Hammers get together in the city centre

In the summers of 2012 and 2013, the Cologne Hammers had the benefit of West Ham visiting Germany for two pre-season tours.

In 2012, Sam Allardyce's side took on Dynamo Dresden, Energie Cottbus and Rot-Weiss Erfurt, while 2013 saw the Hammers face Hamburg, Mainz and Eintracht Braunschweig.

For Stauf and company, the opportunity to watch West Ham on home turf was most welcome.

"Two of us booked our summer holidays around the training camp in Glücksburg. We travelled up with our baggage and were both very happy to have had the chance to meet some of the players and Big Sam."

When asked who the Cologne Hammers consider to be their favourite players, past or present, a list of familiar names make up the response - Bobby Moore, Trevor Brooking, Paolo Di Canio, Carlos Tevez, Mark Noble and Carlton Cole.

Looking into the future, the group plan to continue to make regular visits to east London both before and after the move to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford in 2016.

While they feel supporting the Hammers is about more than chasing trophies, Stauf and his fellow fans would certainly not begrudge their Club a bit of success down the line.

"The majority of us surely understand the motives behind this move because we are West Ham.

"We love our Club even without playing in the Champions League and winning titles, but it is exactly this love and passion for West Ham which makes us follow the Club wherever it goes!"