WATCH: Shanley football gets support from 'good luck charm' fans in England during state title run
Nine British friends pick up Shanley football fandom through friendship with Deacons coach
FARGO — When Shanley football won a state championship last Friday, they did so in front of a large crowd of Deacon fans, but some of their most dedicated supporters, followed the team all season long from nearly 4,000 miles away… in England.
Meet Martyn Standering: an avid American football fan living in Sheffield England.
"I think we were definitely the good luck charm that brought the title home.
Martyn spent six months studying abroad in Minot in 2009. That's when he fell in love with American football and the Minnesota Vikings.
"It was in North Dakota that a few nights in the bars, the guys and girls were teaching me the rules and most of them were Vikings fans," Standering said.
That’s also where he met Derek, a mutual friend of Shanley assistant football coach Pat Thiel. Fast forward 13 years and Derek and Pat are playing fantasy football with Martyn and nine of his British friends
"You don't know what kind of situations you're going to get in when you just try to build relationships throughout your life," Thiel said.
It didn’t take long for Shanley to come up in the fantasy football chat.
"Me and my group of friends, we’re all sports mad anyway. We don’t need much of an excuse to get something different," Standering said. "High school, it was new to us all, so we have picked our team now."
Pat and the Deacon coaching staff even sent a box of Shanley football swag across the pond. Soon, the Deacons’ international fan club was donning its red and white gear and staying up to the middle of the night local time to watch Shanley games.
"It’s been a roller coaster month for the Shanley Deacons, but also for us guys in England getting used to a new body clock on Friday nights," Standering said.
They have worn their gear just about everywhere, from Wembley Stadium to see Shanley alum Dan Arnold and the Jaguars to a local pub on the day of the state championship.
"The red cross with the white background. I think at a quick glance most would just look at it and assume it’s an English football top or something like that," Standering said.
And their support was felt at the Fargodome where the Deacons won the 11AA Championship.
"This season has felt like such a community effort and then you add on support from England," Thiel said. "It just seems like we were just on the path to the result we got."
Martyn and his friends plan to follow the Deacons again next fall. Until then, it’s back to the fierce competition of fantasy football.