Meet Sivan John, a devoted follower of Huddersfield Town, despite living more than 6,500 miles from the John Smith's Stadium.Based in Klang, in the state of Selangor, Malaysia, 35-year-old Sivan has become a proud Terrier from afar – here, he explains his story and his passion for the West Yorkshire club.
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First question; why Huddersfield Town?
In 2011, I happened to be in Huddersfield to visit my uncle whom I had not met in 20 years. He’s the main reason why I fell in love with football in the first place.
During my time there, I was very much eager to experience the atmosphere of watching football in an English stadium. I wasn’t able to attend a Premier League match so we suggested going to watch Huddersfield Town.
So on one August weekend, Town had a game against Wycombe Wanderers at the John’s Smith Stadium. It was beautiful, sunny English afternoon; the atmosphere was great, I was there with my uncle and cousin and Town won 3-0. It was perfect.
Right from that moment, I said to myself, this is the club for me.
Have you been to watch Huddersfield since that day?
So far the match against Wycombe is my only time watching them in a stadium. But I have been fortunate enough to have seen Town play several times since as we get some Sky Bet Championship matches via live telecast in Malaysia. I am proud to say that, so far, I have an undefeated record when watching them.
One of the most memorable games was away to Blackpool in 2012, when I had to wake up at about 2.30am Malaysian time and we won the match 3-1. I had to start getting prepared for work shortly after full-time but I had no complaints despite the lack of sleep as it was well worth it.
Another memorable match was against Sheffield Wednesday in 2013 when I had to put up some resistance because apparently there was another programme on TV which everybody else wanted to watch. In the end I won, and Town won as well.
And, of course, not forgetting the 2012 League 1 Play-Off Final. We all know what happened on that memorable day!
What's it like following a Football League club from Malaysia?
Premier League football is huge in this part of the world; it garners almost 60 per cent of the market on foreign football coverage. Clubs, especially Manchester United and Liverpool, have a big following here.
The best option to get all the latest news with regards to Huddersfield is via the internet from the club’s official website and also from the Huddersfield Examiner.
Social media has also played a huge part for me as there are many dedicated Facebook groups and Twitter accounts from fans that bring all the latest news, transfers, gossip, match updates and much more. It is my most preferred platform as it allows me to engage with fellow Town fans from across the world.
We notice from your pictures, you have a Huddersfield shirt...
I still remember the day I got my hands on my first Town kit and how excited I was to wear it for work, on dress down Fridays. As expected, it raised a lot of eyebrows as people started to question which team it was.
When I mention Huddersfield Town, some local football fans do recognise the name while others are taken by surprise as they don’t have a clue and have never heard of the team before.
The same thing happens when I wear my Town kit for lunch or when I visit any shopping malls - people get curious and do ask me about my kit.
Do you often discuss Huddersfield Town with others?
I’m very active discussing about football on Twitter - so many Malaysian football fans ask if it's really true that I support Huddersfield Town. It’s always nice to see their reaction.
I am more than willing to share whatever knowledge I have about my beloved club because I believe it’s important for others to know that Town have a rich history in English football.
It’s important for football fans to know that Town were one of the biggest clubs in the world back in the 1920s and were also the first English club to win three successive league titles, a feat that has only been achieved by handful of clubs.
Another fact that I do share is about the most influential British managers, Herbert Chapman and Bill Shankly, who laid the foundations of their work and principle with Huddersfield before going on to have success with Arsenal and Liverpool respectively.
What about now; are you happy with the progress the club is making?
I’m happy to know that in Dean Hoyle we have a chairman who is committed and passionate about taking Town to the next level. I’ve been hearing many great stories about him and what he has done for the club ever since he took over in 2008, so I do hope fans will continue to support him.
I know we haven’t set things alight in the Championship since our promotion in 2012 but most importantly we are still there after three seasons and progress is being made. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only Town fans who dreams of seeing us in the Premier League but let’s take things one at a time.
Are you looking forward to the new Football League season?
I can’t wait for the new season to get under way. We had the good run towards late last season under our gaffer Chris Powell, resulting in our best finish in the Championship since promotion.
I’m keeping an eye on the club during the close season and it has been all good so far. The club has been making some interesting signings and we can't forget that we have quite a number of promising youngsters coming through the reserve team to bolster our squad.
So here’s hoping that we will have more positive results and improve our standing in the league in 2015/16.
Stand Up & Be Counted
Huddersfield are 31st in the Stand Up & Be Counted club leaderboard with 356 registered overseas fans. Sivan is currently the only registered Terrier based in Malaysia but if you are living in the country, or anywhere else abroad, there is still time to show your support for your club.
Stand Up & Be Counted asks fans to register their country and city of residence via a dedicated microsite at representyourclub.com, so whether you are a supporter of Accrington Stanley in Argentina or York City in Yemen you can show your support of your club.