From Seychelles to Shelton – Stoke City is making waves around the globe

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The Seychelles – an African paradise known for its beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves.

And home to the latest Stoke City supporter’s club!

The Potters’ popularity knows no bounds, reaching even as far as this archipelago of 115 islands.

And it’s all thanks to Stoke City ambassador Angela Smith, Adrian Skerrett and his daughter Malinda.

The life-long Stoke fans decided to start the Seychelles branch with the intention of flying the flag for their favourite team in the country.

Adrian grew up in Trentham and after studying at Liverpool University returned to the area to work at Wedgwood and then Michelin.

He said: “I moved to Seychelles on a two-year contract, liked it and bought out the company I went to work for together with two other locals.

“The arrival here of someone else from Stoke increased our fan base by 50 per cent!

“By rounding up a few locals we’re up to seven now.”

The Seychelles branch is trying to get a Stoke City coach for the national football team to use, which Adrian hopes will give them some much-needed recognition.

Nearly 4,000 miles away in Malta, the Potters supporters club can claim slightly more members.

After reading Gordon Banks’ write-ups in the Tiger comic in the early 1970s, a nine-year-old Ray Calleja fell in love with Stoke City.

The Malta Supporters Branch

The Malta Supporters Branch pictured outside the Rabokk pub

The 55-year-old decided to launch the Malta supporters branch in 2014 and they now have over 20 members, including a couple of expats.

Ray said: “From time to time we meet in different locations around Malta, mainly pubs to watch Stoke games together on TV.

“This has so far included one or two visits to the sister island of Gozo .

“There is a pub, called Rabokk, and the landlord Peter Muscat is a very keen Stoke fan. We all go by ferry, to have a good time and watch a Stoke game.”

Ray has helped many Stoke fans to buy tickets from the club for games in England.

In 1981, 14-year-old Gunnar Hansen from Norway published five magazines in an ultimately failed attempt to gain interest in a supporters branch.

Gunnar tried again in 1988 and the Stoke City Supporters Club of Scandinavia was born – later changing the name from Scandinavia to Norway.

With an impressive 762 members, the Norway branch is arguably the most active foreign supporters group around, as member Per Arstad will attest to.

Per said: “We arrange two supporter travels each season.

“The next is in May for the West Ham game and the Tollgate hotel is fully booked with Norwegian Stokies.”

They also produce a membership magazine called Potters News that is published four to five times a season.

Despite sponsoring former Stoke City right back Mikael Hansson’s home shirt in 1999, a group of Swedish Stoke fans felt there wasn’t much call for a supporters branch.

But following further demand over the next few years, the Swedish Stokies were formed in 2003 and now stand at 157 members.

The Swedish Supporters Branch

The Swedish Supporters Branch pictured in 1999

Swedish Stokies secretary Jens Johnsson said: “Back in 1969, Swedish television started broadcasting one English league game every Saturday.

“Many of the Swedish lads in my generation watched the English league on television every weekend.

“I became a Stoke fan, when I saw the game between Derby and Stoke in March 1975.

“Derby took the lead by 1-0 and then Jimmy Greenhoff scored a brace in the last 15 minutes to secure the victory.”

Stoke-on-Trent may not have the beaches of the Seychelles – but it’s certainly making waves around the globe.

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