My soccer club’s short season is fast approaching. For 8 months the emotions released on the terraces are sleeping. Vivid memories of the being THE CROWD not a number making up a crowd contain the emotions expressed there. Sorry to say this to fans of other American sports. If you’ve never stood in the terraces for your club, You never understand. It’s an all consuming sea of a physical expression of intense emotion. A safe place to express yourself in a celebratory display of something so far beyond any other life event. For me the only moments greater were the birth of my children. Like any parent, they are always first in my thoughts.
Except for that short period since the summer of 2012. The year Detroit City FC was born. My club and kids battle for my attention. In blood and ink, size and time matter. My back piece for my club took 8 hours. It’s not finished. The artwork for my children was a more intense three hours. The national team shield over my heart, all single needle work, only took an hour. Supporter culture is a lifestyle. A community is forged in the intensity of shared events. Strangers become family. Need help moving? Going out? Time during the week kicking a soccer ball around in the street? Just ask. Done. Hard times? How much do you need? pay me back when you can. Family without the baggage.
The pronouncement that this generation that will propel soccer into the American conscious has arrived. Families are showing up in the supporter sections. The tradition of being part of a club from birth to death has becoming a reality. Yes the pictures of skull bandanas and mask can be jarring. Roiling clouds from the smoke bombs isn’t a normal sight at a sporting event. The attitude expressed in a single voice using certain language can be a bit jarring to the uninitiated. That is until the mask come off. Or seeing them play with their kids. Ordinary people. The well educated and the blue collar. Many nationalities and cultures. Uncompromising inclusive. All hidden by the masks and smoke. Many of them are friends making their neighborhood a better place to raise their children. The like minded of a particular mindset expressed in standing for their club on match day.
The most soft spoken become something else for a short period of time. Hidden strengths are revealed. Everyday fears are shown to be shared. That loosens their grip. All of this I’ve experienced. Such strong emotional release can’t be sustained. There’s a satisfying weariness when the crowd dissipates. A relief that it was over. The special set of elements that creates such a storm has a set time limit. For the supporters it has a physical element. Being a supporter is a very active endeavour. The March to the stadium. The standing while we chant in full voice. Maintaining your balance on seats designed for sitting during a rain storm or blistering heat. Then the drive home afterwards.
And still I wake with the need to do it all again. Check Twitter and Facebook for pictures and highlights from the day before. Reading all the comments from other individuals who wished their club had the same atmosphere. And respect from others that do. I walk a little taller because I’m part of something special. Unique. An attitude expressed in my everyday life. Knowing my small Facebook page has a global reach because Detroit City FC is my club. Tell me how many others can say that?
On may 15th, I will stand with my loud rowdy smoke loving clan in the visitor section of Cass Tech for the season opener. That’s how we are seen not just heard. The cherry on top is we play Cleveland. A sport rivalry deeply ingrained in Detroit history. A history that our owners carry with them. Then there’s the small detail that match counts in the Rust Belt Derby. A supporter created competition between Buffalo, Cleveland and Detroit. Forget the fancy silverware and plates. The trophy is heavy. Made from metal representing the manufacturing past and present of three cities. All fueled by social media. Every app or site.
I AM CITY TILL I DIE.
NO ONE LIKES, WE DON’T CARE.
BURY ME IN ROUGE AND GOLD.
AND WEAR THE BLACK SCARF
WITH THE STARK WORDS