Shrewsbury Town fans enjoy their fun in the sun
The pubs and bars of Albufeira, southern Portugal, had a distinctly Shropshire flavour about them this week as around 100 football-mad Salopians made the trip for some sun, sea and Shrewsbury football.
The news that Town's warm-up practice match in the warm-weather training camp would be open to supporters was well received by Town fans, who quickly began checking their diaries and passport expiry dates.
Most of the Salop fans jetted out to the Algarve last weekend for a few days of sampling the delights that the continent had to offer – before a first glimpse of Sam Ricketts' men this summer.
Town played a behind-closed-doors friendly against Ebbsfleet in Portugal two summers ago but did not have a match in last season's trip to Valencia.
So fans needed little prompting to make the trip abroad to cheer on Ricketts' men against Sheffield Wednesday. Many Shrews fans of a younger generation have not had the chance to watch their side abroad before.
For those of an older persuasion it brought back memories of trips to the likes of Ireland and Scotland following their side.
There was blue and amber aplenty soaking up the vitamin D outside Albufeira bars from the early hours of each morning as Salop fans settled into their mini-break.
And they all made the trip to Ferreira's Estádio da Nora on Tuesday evening for a first chance at seeing what the Town class of 2019/20 has to offer.
The stadium welcomed some 300 Brits, plenty in blue and white cheering for Steve Bruce's side, but enough Salopians to make their presence felt in the stadium that consisted of one large single stand and not much else.
Town fans were also quick to locate Andy Mangan. The popular former Shrews striker is now part of the coaching set-up at Fleetwood Town, who are also out in Portugal.
In many cases the local beer had been flowing since breakfast time but that didn't stop the loyal following gathering to see which new, or more familiar, faces had made the starting XI.
Town lost the fixture, which was broke into three 30 minute chunks, 2-0. But the score and even quality of match was an after-thought for those who merely enjoyed the experience of supporting and representing their club overseas.
Fans shared a number of positive views on social media as excitement around Ricketts' new-look squad continues to grow.
Town supporter John Dorsett said: "(I've) Loved the trip out here. Ten of us went for an after-match curry.
"The keepers looked good and we look strong in central defence. (We) Obviously need a right wing-back and Ryan Giles was impressive on the left.
"We looked a bit weak in central midfield but players were out. I think we need another striker as well."
Fellow fan Eryn Moore added: "James Rowland had good game, he is constantly proving himself, both goalkeepers looked good.
"Following Town abroad has been an experience and hopefully we get the chance next year as everyone has thoroughly enjoyed it."
They will remember it for a while and hopefully have similar experiences moving forward as trips like these are all the more common nowadays.
‘The best away day in Shrews history’ Fan view by Michael Pinches
The finest away trip in Salop history is the only way to describe my three days in Portugal to watch the love of my life Shrewsbury Town play.
Needless to say a few beers were had during the trip, but everyone had a brilliant time – drinking cool lagers with the sea in the distance was stuff of dreams.
To the Sheffield Wednesday game itself, it was a very relaxed affair. About 100 Town fans made the journey over and were mingling freely with the Owls faithful.
The game itself was proper training ground stuff.
Omar Beckles seems to be a big part of Sam Ricketts’ plans, little James Rowland was very busy in his try-out and will be a star of the future, while Steve Morison is a classic back-to-basics old-fashioned centre forward who will constantly annoy League One.
I did the like how Salop wanted to play football – not many long or high balls.
I’m warming to Ricketts a lot – he has a set idea on how to do things, a very clever, serious bloke. Owls won 2-0 in the end, but the game was kind of a afterthought – it was just great to see so many smiling faces at a football game.