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A TAMWORTH wedding photographer has become a minor celebrity in the US for his fanaticism towards a sport already renowned for the rabid fervour of its supporters.
Anthony Hands last week spent close to $10,000 flying to the United States to attend the SEC Media Days, an annual week-long promotional stop for college football players and coaches in the US Southeastern Conference.
Incredibly, college football is the most followed sport from the Carolinas to Texas even bigger than NFL and thousands of fans descend on the media days in the hope of catching a glimpse of its brightest stars.
For Mr Hands, that star is Nick Saban, the much-lauded coach of the University of Alabama, a team the Tamworth man has become obsessed with since marrying a former Alabama girl.
Clutching a sign that read "I flew from Australia to meet Nick Saban", Mr Hands captured the attention of assembled media, even having his story run in the prestigious Washington Post.
"There's nothing like this in Australia trust me. I told my folks, friends back home that, you know, over 100,000 people go to a college football game they've got no idea," Mr Hands told US media.
Mr Hands said he listened to every Alabama game via online radio, often rising in the early hours of the morning to hear it live.
"It's like three in the morning that I have to get up to listen to the football, and my wife doesn't really take well to me starting drinking beer at three in the morning. But, you know, I sort of figure, it's a game tradition, right?" he joked.
"It's fantastic being here ... I'm really enjoying myself. It's great being around people I can talk football with."
Mr Hands said he had made the special sign in the faint hope he could catch Saban's attention.
College football is so huge in parts of the US, stadiums across the South and Midwest regularly draw more than 100,000 spectators for Saturday games, often in cities with populations less than 200,000.