SSFC superfan Brent Brannen is making a passion-fuelled trans-Atlantic journey to back the Mariners in their vital Easter weekend double-header.
Brent, 36, is travelling from his home in Atlanta, Georgia, to cheer on the club in the games against FC United of Manchester and Whitby Town.
After a 6,500km flight, Brent will then travel on a supporters’ coach to FC United on Saturday before taking in the home match against Whitby on Monday.
The fixtures could prove crucial in Kevin Phillips’ side’s battle for promotion, with the Mariners just two points behind Pitching In Northern Premier League leaders Buxton heading into the final three games of the season.
For Brent, who works in community relations for a renewable energy consultant, it will be the second time he has seen his adopted club in person, having also made the trip for an away match against Warrington Town in September 2018.
The American said: “This is a hugely exciting trip for me and I can’t wait to see the team play again at such an important moment.
“I support and am a season ticket holder at Atlanta United FC in Major League Soccer but I’ve also fallen for South Shields, having discovered the club in a run-of-the-mill football highlights video six years ago.
“I followed up that initial interest and discovered that something special was happening after joining a fans’ group on Facebook.
“It was more than the incredible run of results the club was achieving. It was magical, for lack of a better word.
“The people, the supporters, the Mariners, were different, in the best way possible.”
As part of his visit, Brent has brought a number of Atlanta United kits, scarves and other merchandise which he plans to donate to raise funds for the Mariners’ charitable arm, South Shields FC Foundation.
Brent added: “As I’ve found myself not just celebrating with fellow Mariners but actively participating in this community, I’ve truly come to believe in what the club stands for and have taken a sense of pride from that, in particular the SSFC Foundation.
“That is why I’ve donated the Atlanta United kits and themed items, to help fund active and future efforts.
“I’m excited to see what the future holds and thankful to play a part in the next chapter.”
Those who purchase a match programme at the Whitby game will be able to read a first-person account from Brent on how and why he fell in love with the Mariners.