FAN NEWS & BLOGS

17/07/2012 09:54, Report by Nick Coppack in Durban
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Blog: Fans' joy infectious

on the club's colours in 1978. Quinton Fortune officially became the first South African to play for the club in 1999, by which time Sir Alex had already been charmed by the place when he brought a United side here for pre-season preparations in 1993.

Supporters in South Africa – whether in townships or town houses – watch every kick of every game. The time difference (one hour ahead) means there are no middle-of-the-night scenarios to contend with, nor awkward "Can I leave early, please?" conversations to be had with bosses immune to football's charms. As following the Reds from abroad goes, it could hardly be simpler.

It shows, too. Fans' knowledge of all things Manchester United is impressive. Classic matches and club legends are recalled effortlessly, while Scott Wootton, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Davide Petrucci, youngsters all yet to make a single first-team appearance, are recognised and revered.

The affection South Africans have for the club is infectious. All too soon, though, Saturday night will come and we will go, jetting to China for the next leg of this six-game, 22,000-mile journey.

Whirlwind is as apt a word as any to describe tours like these and yet the briefest encounters – an autograph signed, a hand shook, a glance exchanged – will leave lasting impressions. They are small moments, perhaps. But they will generate big, big smiles and be remembered long after we depart.

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