West Ham United's overseas Supporters' Clubs will be honoured at Saturday's Over Land and Sea-themed fixture with Crystal Palace.
A few decades ago, travelling overseas to watch your favourite football team in action was a rare treat reserved for exotic pre-season tours or sojourns into European competition.
The advent of cheaper flights, the internet and the worldwide exposure of the Premier League have changed that scenario in recent years, leading to weekly invasions of foreign fans from all over the world.
West Ham United are among the English clubs to have attracted support from afar, with dozens of Supporters’ Clubs popping up in both near and far-flung locations.
One quick glance at page on whufc.com devoted to International Supporters’ Clubs shows the diverse nature of West Ham’s ever-expanding fan base, with no fewer than 112 clubs representing supporters from 38 different countries.
Six of the world’s seven continents are represented – there are not any Supporters’ Clubs in Antarctica just yet! – including 52 from Europe, 18 from Asia, 26 from North America, eleven from Australia, three from South America and two from Africa.
The largest of these groups is the Scandinavian Hammers, which at last count drew more than 800 members from across predominantly Norway, Finland and Sweden.
They will be among a host of Supporters' Clubs to be represented at Saturday's Barclays Premier League fixture with Crystal Palace, which will be themed 'Over Land and Sea' in their honour.
The Martelli D'Italia - Hammers of Italy - will be out in force as always, while the Belgian Irons will send more than 130 supporters in two coaches across the English Channel to enjoy the Hammers' clash with the Eagles!
The Atlanta Ironworks, Chicago Hammers, Dallas Hammers and San Diego Hammers from the United States, Perth Hammers and Sydney Hammers from Australia, Cologne Hammers from Germany, Tenerife Hammers from Spain's Canary Islands and the Austrian Irons will also be in attendance and invited to take part in a parade around the hallowed turf.
Sydney Hammers chairman Robbie Byrne said following West Ham from the other side of the world is a way of life: "In the last few years we have seen a huge increase in the number of Australian fans travelling home for games. A lot of the hardcore fans will always work their family holiday around the season schedule!"
If you or your Supporters' Club is attending Saturday's game and has yet to make contact with us, please email [email protected] now!
Further afield, it will be a special day for the West Ham Poland group, who are celebrating their tenth anniversary on Saturday, while Supporters' Clubs will settle down to enjoy the game on television in pubs, bars and living rooms all over the planet!
We want you to get involved in the build-up to and throughout matchday on social media - so please tweet us photos, stories and messages of support on Twitter using the hashtag #OLAS.