'We all follow the West Ham'

West Ham United fans from across Oceania will descend on New Zealand for the Hammers' Football United Tour in July.

Among them will be a group representing the Brisbane Hammers Supporters' Club, led by English expatriate Dave Rhodes.

Rhodes, an accountant and former Season Ticket Holder who moved Down Under with his Australian wife in 2002, helped to form the Brisbane Hammers after seeing how much support the Club enjoyed for the 2004 Division One Play-Off final.

 "Everyone here is just buzzing," said the 36-year-old, who hails from Hampshire but attended his first game at the Boleyn Ground at the age of eleven. "We wish the tour was coming to Australia, too, but we're taking it as an opportunity to get as many of us as possible over there and show West Ham that we are here, we are passionate and we love the Club.

"I met lots of West Ham fans when we got together to watch the Play-Off final with Crystal Palace in 2004, so we exchanged emails and addresses and kept in contact. The following year, we had about 500 fans at the Pig '' Whistle for the Play-Off final win over Preston North End and it took off from there.

"We tend to meet up for every game and about 30 or 40 people will come along, which is not bad commitment when you consider that's for kick-off at one o'clock in the morning! If it is a bigger game against Millwall or Spurs, we might get 70 or 80.

"There is a massive mix. We have Aussies and so many British expats, so there is a good mix of old school West Ham boys who went to watch Bobby Moore when they were young, to younger ones who grew up watching Paolo Di Canio and Trevor Sinclair. It's a good blend.

"I personally just try to get back home every two to three years. I came back to London for the goalless draw with Aston Villa in October 2013 and was at the League Cup win over Millwall when we beat them 3-1 in extra-time a few years back."

Brisbane Hammers

The Brisbane Hammers at the Pig '' Whistle in May 2012

Rhodes will be joined by more than 40 fellow Brisbane Hammers when he heads for New Zealand in July, when West Ham will take on A-League sides Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC in Auckland and Wellington respectively.

"There will be more than 40 of us from Brisbane and a few hundred from the Supporters' Clubs from across Australia," he confirmed. "I think it's pretty good that we have sold out the West Ham bays for both games, but I reckon we could have sold three or four thousand tickets to West Ham fans if the games had been in Australia.

"We have got a big contingent of Brisbane Hammers also going to Brazil for the World Cup, so unfortunately they can't justify travelling again in such a short space of time.

"For the average Hammer travelling over from Australia, I would say it is the price of the average Season Ticket to see these two games, so many supporters are turning their trip to New Zealand into a family holiday. I'm taking my wife Jacqui and three kids Abigail, Lola and Elliott, for example. We will fly to Auckland and then down to Wellington on another flight, then we're off on a skiing holiday. We'll make the most of the winter snow over there because we don't get much of that in Brisbane!."

While Rhodes has visited Auckland before and is familiar with New Zealand, many British-based West Ham fans will be travelling to the country for the first time. We asked the Brisbane Hammers chairman what the Claret and Blue Army can expect from their trip?

Brisbane Hammers

Brisbane Hammers Tony McEvoy, Chris McCoy and Dave Rhodes

"It's definitely worth a road trip between the two cities as there is some amazing scenery and volcanoes between the two at a place called Rotarua, which would make for a great stopover if they are able to do that.

"If they are just staying in Auckland, the Sky Tower is worth a trip up to enjoy the view out over the Harbour. In Wellington, there is a cable car and the scenery there is pretty nice too."

While West Ham's visit will attract fans from across the globe, Rhodes says it has also caught the imagination of those living in New Zealand itself.

"I have seen the Kiwi Hammers Facebook group grow over the past few months and their numbers have tripled since the tour was announced," he said.

"It will be unbelievable. With all the people going to the games, it is only going to raise the profile of West Ham and we'll get lots of extra shirt sales that we wouldn't have got before.

"They love Winston Reid out there, so it's definitely going to be good for the Club, that's for sure."