Below is an interview done by the Northern Lads Club. It covers all you need to know…
“This week on the Northern Lads Club, I caught up with the top boy of the Norwegian Branch, a delightful bunch of Scandinavian football fanatics with a fierce but unusual devotion to one of English footballs oldest, and arguably most important, football clubs: Preston North End…
NLC: Hello Simen, thanks again for sorting this. To start off, for the un-initiated, who are the Norwegian Branch?
NB: Hi David, no problem, happy to have a chat. We´re just a group of lads that share a passion for Preston North End, beer and terrace culture. The Branch as we refer to ourselves as, are not an official supporters club and have no intention of becoming one. We put up match results and other PNE news on our blog but have no membership, guidelines or ties to the British Football Supporter Union. We`re just brothers and good friends who make up a close knit group with good connections in Preston.
NLC: OK, we all know Manchester United, Liverpool and the like have ridiculous followings across the globe. But, how and why did The Branch begin supporting Preston North End, a club without a major trophy since 1938?
NB: The badge, the name and the history. You make choices every day. Some are thought through and reasonable others are impulsive and irrational. Choosing to support Preston was a bit of both. I sometimes compare Preston with the shy little girl with glasses in the back of the class. She`s not picture perfect. She doesn`t demand all eyes on her and never puts her hand up. But there is something about her. She`s cute, and that beats plastic beauty any day. And her great grandmother was a stunner. Like Preston everybody knows she used to be great, but no one alive has seen it.
NLC: So, how often do The Branch manage to get to a live PNE game?
NB: A couple of games every season. This season (2013/2014) we came over for Wolves at home and Burnley and Tranmere away so far. We hope to make another visit over before the season ends. Hopefully a play-off game.
NLC: Looking at your blog and Twitter feed, I am impressed with the fervour and sincerity of The Branch’s support for PNE. How do you manage to sustain this despite being thousands of miles away?
NB: Easy. Our good friends. We have a lot of friends in Preston that we keep in touch with. Twitter and the internet in general also makes it easier to keep up with what`s going on. It has gotten easier over the years.
NLC: Some commentators have argued that the ready availability of English (not to mention, Spanish, Italian and German) football on television has had a negative effect on the Tippeligaen. With average attendances attendance’s their lowest in ten years, and with the league having its lowest UEFA co-efficient ranking in 20 years, do you think this trend of Norwegian football fans supporting foreign clubs could be harming there domestic league?
NB: It`s hard to say how big of an effect that has on the attendance at games over here. Tippeligaen lasts from spring to fall so for many months the other leagues are not even playing and I doubt the attendance rises in those months. The lack of quality and the lack of rivalry may affect the attendance more. We have some games that attract a lot of people but all in all there is a very relaxed tone amongst the teams and cities. Rosenborg won the league every year for over a decade so that might have had an effect as well. It`s a culture thing for the most, it`s just not that popular. The national team have also been very poor the last 10 years or so. Not since all our nationals played in the PL in the early nineties we where any good. And still then we played crap football.
NLC: So do you and/or the other Branch members have loyalties to a Norwegian club, as well as to your ‘English’ club?
NB: It`s not that we are born without a loyalty to our home town club. We love our local team. We all support the same team, Strømsgodset IF, due to the fact that we are from the same town. That club is in our blood and we love it, we all have spent our childhood at the old terraces of Marienlyst Stadium or Gamle Gress (The Old Grass) as it`s called but we have passion and love for another team as well. The one doesn´t deny the other.
NLC: Finally, do you know when the Branch will next be represented at a match at Deepdale?
NB: It`s been my pleasure Dave. You have a great blog and we`re happy to contribute. We`ll hopefully be over for a playoff game later on this season.
NLC: Excellent, you’ll have to come for a drink on the Northern Lads Club. Thank you very much for your time.”