AN American walks into a club in Goldthorpe...

There’s no punchline. It is actually happening this season with Lance Friedrich a long way from home.

The 20-year-old is originally from the beachside town of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

But he now finds himself playing in the small Dearne village and he could not be happier.

Asked if he is enjoying the season, he said: “Definitely. It’s a lot of fun playing with the lads.

“It seems like the club fits in well with the community. It is close-knit and the people behind the scenes are great. The other day I was watching the under eights in a tournament and another first team player was there too. It’s that sort of club.”

Friedrich has found himself in the former pit village thanks to the encouragement of current Dearne manager Jason Blunt via the I2I academy.

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The former Leeds United and England youth player liked what he saw of the young attacking midfielder/winger in a showcase game.

“He kept in touch throughout the summer to see if I was staying fit and wanted me to sign for Dearne,” added Friedrich, who is also studying at York St John University for a degree in football business management.

“The opportunity to come to England was one I followed up about.

“I would love to go as far as I can and become a professional player. The door is open in England and Europe thanks to players like Christian Pulisic and Brenden Aaronson.

“I would not be against playing for Dearne next year and beyond that. It’s a great club.”

Friedrich, a one-time academy player with the MLS side Portland Timbers, is on a mission to learn about the English game both with his eyes and body.

“I am not as big or as strong as some of the lads so I have to think quicker – move the ball on and then get into space. The speed is a lot quicker than what I had been used to.

“There are some standout players at the Dearne and I think everyone compliments one another. The level is really good.

“I am trying to go to as many games as possible. I’ve been to watch Barnsley, Burnley, the Sheffield clubs and Manchester City and United too.”

Dearne kept up their relentless league assault with another victory last Saturday against Staveley Miners’ Welfare Reserves.

They raced into a 4-0 half time lead thanks to Tommy Needham’s early strike before Curtis Wilkinson smashed in a quckfire classy hat-trick.

The first came through a lob over the keeper, the second a bullet header and finally a lethal volley.

But they took their foot off the gas in the second period and almost paid the price as the visitors hit three goals back.

Victory ensured they have won 16 from 16 this season and at the halfway stage of the campaign they are 15 points clear.

Friedrich added: “At the minute we are taking things one game at a time but we would, of course, love to try and go the whole league season unbeaten.”

Dearne’s nearest rivals are the equally ambitious Doncaster City. They have three games in hand but have already suffered two defeats this campaign.

Cudworth-based Elite FC are seventh after a 4-2 loss at Dinnington Town.

The goals came from Jacob Tupling and Tommy Pallett.