The Somerset non-league football club selling out of shirts to Japanese fans

An English non league club has been selling out of shirts in Japan ahead of its first season playing in the National League South.

Taunton Town FC in Somerset has become an unlikely club for Japanese football fans to support, largely thanks to the coverage it has received from an English journalist in the country.

Ben Mabley lives in Osaka and covers English football in Japan. Originally from Taunton, he regularly talks about the club on air as an example of how deeply rooted the game is back in his home country.

Taunton Town, whose nickname is The Peacocks, is about to embark on a first season in the sixth tier of English football - the highest level the club has ever played at.

Ben said: "With the most confidence I can possibly have, I'd say that outside of the Premier League and the championship, Taunton Town have the most followers of any English football team. That's more than anyone in League One, more than anyone in League two, let alone the National League premier.

"This is before they even got promoted to the National League South for this season.

"Taunton Town serve as a fantastic case study as an example of how English football is rooted within society, within the country at a level much, much deeper than the glitz and glamour of the Premier League.

"It's not just about Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, the big clubs. It goes further down than that.

"So fans in Japan with a real interest in English football and in wider English culture have been fascinated by the fact that a town that they maybe hadn't heard of before has people paying money to go and see them, gathering behind the goal, singing songs, waving flags. That really resonates with people who love football."

Because of the club's growing popularity, Ben has helped to arrange deliveries of Taunton Town shirts to Japan ahead of the new season.

He said: "They've sold out of four of the adult sizes because of all the orders that have come in from Japan. I can't wait to bump into someone I don't know on the street wearing a Taunton Town shirt!"

Chief executive of the club Kevin Sturmey also acts as chairman and even head groundsman. He says he's proud that the club is growing in popularity and is now only one division below fellow Somerset side Yeovil Town.

He said: "It was usually people going from Taunton to Yeovil, and me included because I want to watch National League football.

"The potential is unlimited because of the size of the town, the amount of houses being built, but also the ripple effect of the catchment area we've got goes down into West Somerset, even into North Devon."

Supporter Adam Farrington has been helping get the club's ground ready for the National League

To play in the National League the club needs to make some changes to its ground, The Cygnet Health Care Stadium. Step forward superfan Adam Farrington, whose business has been busy installing extra seating and doing building work, including new dugouts.

He said for him the club is a passion: "You always find me behind the home end cheering, chanting and I'll probably be on many videos of Taunton Town running across the pitch and screaming and yelling!

"Yeah, it's close. I feel emotional."

Whilst things are looking great off the pitch, for the manager and club captain all eyes are on the first game of the season at home against Welling United on Saturday 6 August.

Captain Lloyd Irish said: "I feel that we'll make the top half comfortably. I might look back on these words and think, maybe I got that wrong!

"But I see no reason why we shouldn't be pushing towards the playoffs this season."

Manager Rob Dray said: "It's a big commitment physically, mentally. Juggling family, juggling everything else. So it's a big undertaking but, listen, this is where you want to be.

"This is the level you want to play at. So they're good, ambitious lads and it's an ambitious club. We're all very fortunate to be here."

To make a splash in their new league Taunton Town is calling on fans to get behind them this season both here in Somerset and further afield.