A non-league Lancashire football club is proving a hit with sports fans in a tiny east European country.
Bamber Bridge FC have the fastest growing fan base in Macedonia after a fun-loving college student discovered their existence through a computer game.
Their Facebook fan page multiplied from 343 to 1,470 likes in the space of two days as Euro football fans jumped on the Brig bandwagon.
Macedonian student Christian Rizov, a Liverpool fan, founded the Macedonian supporters’ group.
He said: “It’s really hard to say how I or anybody else became a Brig fan. I totally unintentionally learned of the club on Football Manager, the PC game. And because it is so catchy, it stuck in my head.
“We have a Macedonian internet forum – that is not just about football – and there was a discussion in the Barclays Premier League thread.
“Irritated by the fact that no one writes anything when the teams win, only when big sides lose, I posted: ‘Bamber Bridge have just won 2-1 against Wakefield and no says anything about it.’
“A couple of members found it funny and told me to open a fan page on the forums.
“I liked the Facebook page and by the time I’d come back from college everyone had jumped on it.
“So I decided to make a separate page to show that we are true supporters and not just a viral joke.”
He set up ‘Bamber Bridge FC – Macedonia’, an official club fan page with forum member Goran Kitevski.
And Rizov said: “We are planning on making T-shirts and we have arranged a meeting as fans are spread across the country.
“We really became supporters when they thanked us on the main Bamber Bridge page for the likes, the interaction encouraged more Macedonians to support!
“Most of us are fans of other teams in the Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga but we have been united and bound together by Bamber Bridge.”
Manager Neil Crowe said: “I have never known anything like it, it’s brilliant. Everyone finds it so surreal.”
Bamber Bridge’s 15 match unbeaten spell ended on Saturday as Darlington 1883 beat them 1-0.
And Brig’s social media manager Stefan Willoughby said: “I can’t believe the impact it has had.
“We are planning to up the video content to meet demand. Our next step is to get the Macedonian’s over to watch a match at Irongate.”
Bamber Bridge FC are planning on sending rulers and fridge magnets over to Macedonia to encourage the sudden growth.
Adrian Ward, of Bamber Bridge’s 100 Club sponsor Leyland-based company blankkeyrings.co.uk, hopes the support will grow.
He said: “It’s brilliant to see so many new faces coming on board every day, we think their flag provides a superb background against the club crests.
“We ship internationally but it is the first time we can recall any demand from Macedonia.
“We hope that interest in our products will be as frenzied as all the positive comments on the Facebook page this week.”