Northampton teenager's parody "Sywell FC" football account has become a worldwide sensation

The Sywell FC Twitter page, now followed by some 6,000 people, is a parody account set up by an 18-year-old Duston student.
The Sywell FC Twitter page, now followed by some 6,000 people, is a parody account set up by an 18-year-old Duston student.

A Northampton student's fake Twitter account of a county non-league football team has become a worldwide sensation after duping a portion of the world's media into believing it was real.

A recent tweet purporting to be from the Sywell FC logo received 4,900 retweets, when it claimed the team bus had accidentally driven to Hundon instead of Hendon and forced a match to be called off.

"There is no hiding from the fact that our team bus travelled to Hundon, 70 miles from our actual destination." Read the social media post.

"The club stresses that this will not happen again."

Shortly afterwards the post appeared in a variety of worldwide media outlets.

Tongue-in-cheek website The Poke ran the tweets under the heading "Best reason we’ve seen for a football match to be postponed."

Bulletin's of Sywell FC's mishap appeared around the country, even on BBC Radio Two.

But the tweet, like the football club itself, was entirely faked by an 18-year-old sixth former called Ryan Horsley.

The Duston school pupil set the account up with a friend two months ago and has already gathered 6,000 followers.

"I didn't expect it to be as big as it is," he told the Chron this week.

"It's a good feeling to see big news publications believe it.

"I have had about eight journalists call me now - the Mirror, the Daily Mail Online, The Times, there has been so many. For all of them, I have to just be honest and say, 'there is no Sywell FC'."

But Ryan's prank has partly been successful because - to the untrained eye - it mirrors the social media accounts of non-league football teams.'

Ryan, who carried out work experience with Northampton Town's media team, posts team sheets, ticket prices, attendance figures and even posts a minute-by-minute live feed on "matchdays" against real teams.

It has a realistic team emblem and a nickname - The Tench - named after the main inhabitants of Sywell Reservoir.

However, every once in a while the prankster, who is set to study marketing at university, will post a subtle joke.

"UPDATE: Unfortunately after a pitch inspection officials have indicated that pitch conditions for our game tomorrow are 'unplayable' and 'extremely dangerous'," read one tweet.

"The club, however, has decided that the match will proceed as planned, subject to an inspection in the morning."

On one occasion the referee's car was stolen after a game.

And on another the Sywell FC account thanks supporters for turning out to a home game - "attendance: 7."

The latter was retweeted some 25,000 times.

A fake player signing was, in fact, Ryan's friend doing unimpressive football tricks on a five-a-side pitch.

But the Cobblers fan, who gets regular supportive emails sent to him, says his parody account is not meant to be unfair to non-league football.

"I never wanted to mock non-league," he said.

"I used that because people genuinely know very little about non-league - it made the team more likely to believe.

"I'm not sure why I chose Sywell - I guess I could just imagine there being a Sywell FC.

"I have had a great reaction to it. One guy messaged me to say how the account really helped keep his dad entertained when he was in intensive care."

Ryan says he will carry on the Twitter feed "until people get bored."

"Everything has to come to an end at some point," he added.

'To check out the account, follow @SywellFC.