You wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a Portadown Football Supporters in villages like Richhill, Gilford, Loughgall or perhaps Markethill.
But Stranocum, County Antrim, just five miles from Ballymoney and 12 miles from Coleraine!?
But suddenly, there has appeared on the terraces of Shamrock Park – and just about every other ‘away’ venue when the Ports are in action - a rather distinctive banner bearing the name of that tiny hamlet (population around 300) of which many Shamrock fans admit they have never heard.
And in keeping with the smallness of the village, the Stranocum Ports (as they have called themselves) is the smallest supporters club at Shamrock – four in number and all from the same family, the Crowes.
It has its genesis many years ago in the Primatial City of Armagh, and fittingly the father of the club is Rev Kenneth Crowe, minister of Bushvale Presbyterian Church (now the Ports’ chaplain) just outside the village, its main claim to fame before the Crowe era being the traditional old poem ‘Sweet Stella of Stranocum’.
Mr Crowe and family in Armagh were staunch Ports followers, especially his brother Leslie, and they followed them through thick and thin – a tradition His Rev continued when he and wife Honor moved to Stranocum when he first occupied the Bushvale pulpit.
His three sons, Daniel, Peter and David, heeded his Ports gospel, often visiting Leslie in Armagh and all heading for Shamrock.
Kenneth hit on the idea of forming their very own club in the past close season when he attended the main supporters’ club dinner and watched as the prizes were handed out.
Said Daniel, “We’ve all been following the Ports seriously for just under 20 years, although it makes Coleraine fans all around us see red.”
In fact, dad is the stand-in announcer at Shamrock when regular man at the mike Steven Wright isn’t available.
And the Crowes are confident the Ports will make the top six – “maybe the top four for Europe” – although that faith took a knock during Saturday’s insipid two-all draw against new men Warrenpoint Town.
Peter Crowe designed the family club banner (see pic) and it’s interesting to note that the distance between Stranocum and Portadown is 66.5 miles. As the Crowe drives…