Barmy Army more than just beer-drinking, cricket-loving fans

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Barmy Army (Getty Images)
Barmy Army (Getty Images)

Cape Town - There were magnificent scenes at Newlands throughout the second Test between the Proteas and England this week with the Barmy Army in full voice. 

They were among thousands of Englishmen and women at the ground, comfortably drowning out the South African support from start to finish, positioned under the stadium's famous Oaks and on the North stand.

From ball one without any fail, the Barmy Army were in perfect pitch and harmony, belting out various tunes including their anthem, Jerusalem. 

Celebrating 25 years of existence on this tour, the Barmy Army has even more to celebrate this time around.   

Throughout the Test - in the sweltering South African heat - they lifted up their side and played a helping hand in their 189-run victory.

It was the first time since isolation that the Proteas lost a New Year's Test match at Newlands and skipper Faf du Plessis acknowledged after the match that it had felt like an away game for his side.

According to Barmy Army social media manager Toby Marriott, a staggering 8 000 English fans followed their national side during the five days in Cape Town.

There will likely be less for the Tests in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.

READ | Why there were more English than SA fans at Newlands

The Barmy Army is a trademarked company and has been in existence since England's 1994/95 Ashes tour of Australia.

The organisation boasts over 36 000 members, of which 600 are paid members.

Membership, which costs £30 (R563) per year, ensures clients receive an early bird special on tickets and it also provides travel packages for English supporters to home and away series.

Sport24 caught up with two of the Barmy Army's five permanent staff members at the second Test at Newlands.

"We do everything from organising the logistics of various tours to selling merchandise. We arrange staff for tours and we do a lot of work in the UK with regards to membership," said Managing Director, Chris Millard.

"We've got an ever-growing social media presence so we do everything from press and media. We work with the England players, commercial partnerships and a wide-arrange from cricket stuff from the five staff that we've got."

The Barmy Army are celebrating 25 years of their organisation and they're about far more than beer and cricket. They work a lot with charities around the world whenever England tour.

"We partner with the South African tourism board to showcase this beautiful country, not to only watch the cricket but explore the culture," said Marriott.

Following the Newlands Test, the Barmy Army has arranged three charity matches for its touring members and all the proceeds will go to Breadline Africa, which is a non-profit organisation providing children and youth with educational support.

"We're not just about watching the cricket, it's about meeting people and having fun and giving back," said Marriott.

"Obviously, we have a massive impact on the local economy by not only drinking lots of beers but by raising money for local charities and bringing about positivity."

Since 1994, the Barmy Army has raised over £500 000 (R9.3m) for international and local charities.

"We kind of speak on behalf of our members and work with the voice of English cricket fans. We're trying to make cricket more inclusive more everyone regardless of their age, background and demographic," said Millard.

The four-match Test series against the Proteas and England is evenly poised at 1-1 with the third Test scheduled to get underway on Thursday, January 16 at St. George's Park.

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