A milestone day for the soccer world. A coroner inquest finally ended 25 years of lies. There is justice for the 96 Liverpool supporters killed at Hillsborough. The police systemically covered up all their actions that led to the deaths. Men, women, children and young people. The ripple effects of blaming drunk ticket less Liverpool supporters for the tragedy changed the fundamental course of the football world. All seat stadiums replaced standing terraces. The supporters, ALL Supporters, are hooligans. They can’t be trusted to behave. Hillsborough. The bigger the TV contracts became. The harsher the controls in the stadium. Packaging of the game into something safe.
The MLS is a product of this world standard. Determined not to make the mistakes of the past failures the organization adopted a control culture. Twenty years on clubs have approved Supporter Groups. Codes of conduct. Top down enforcement that varies from club to club. Year long banning order for lighting a smoke bomb but show that in their corporate ads. Treating supporters like criminals by videoing supporter tailgates before matches. The home club’s SG. Doctrine set by on the British police model. Hillsborough.
News report. Dateline Detroit. The owners of the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons are bring the MLS to town. Dan Gilbert moved his company downtown when it wasn’t cool. He owns half of the downtown skyline. MSU graduate. Michigan guy. Tom Gores. Same. Except they’re both basketball guys. Where does that leave Detroit City FC? My club.
Those two words define the difference in the cultures. Soccer is a working class game. Sushi and WIFI are foreign to a food truck and beer culture. Unlike other American sports there are not breaks in the action for plays or TV timeouts. Casual conversations happen before or after the match. Not during. A sport played during any weather. The supporters standing through it all. That’s what Detroit City is. It’s who I am.
Twenty four hours has passed. The Northern Guard Supporters, NGS, are unapologetic in the way we carry ourselves. When the NGS have a social media coordinator, haters gonna hate. All those critics that have taken shots at the NGS for the Detroit attitude piled on. Your club will fold. It can’t survive a professional team being in the same town. No one going to your poxy little stadium by the tracks. Serves you right for being such assholes to me before. Never forget they wrote off Detroit before.
DCFC is a global brand. A 4th tier summer league club of current and former college students rank higher than some MLS clubs in social media coverage. NGS 989. NGS 517. NGS Flint Outpost. DC and Portland. Those are just the one I know of. Every year there are stories about where will soccer expand to next. Detroit been at the top of the list because of DCFC. Winning on the pitch. Where players love the atmosphere created by the NGS. The owners and the supporter culture on the same page. Why? Because it’s what they wanted watching the Bundesliga or Serie A or EPL growing up. They played soccer. It’s their sport.
There are two Detroits. The City itself has been in the national headlines. No need to say more. The towns surrounding the city core might has well be on a different planet. Affluent. Thriving. Nice houses with landscaped green lawns. Newer cars. Good schools. And want nothing to do with the city or it’s residents. Go to see the Lions, Tigers and Wings? Sure. Leave has soon as possible. It’s not just in the suburbs. Where I live it’s the same. 90 minutes north or across the state.
Detroit City FC is a culture formed by the immigrants from other states and the world. A generation without a history in the city. Others whose family moved out, have returned. The Urban Cores are becoming chic again. Money is flowing back in. Displacing those that stayed. The G2 news release sited growing numbers of youth players in SE Michigan. It begs the question of what audience they want. Family Friendly proved such a great success that no one uses it anymore. Bucks. The MLS want to have another Portland, Seattle and Kansas City. Owners are in charge of that. Working with the SG to let it happen. The German way. Not the EPL. NOT Hillsborough.
Standing terraces are making a comeback. Modern soccer has become sterile. English clubs have asked their supporters if they want safe standing areas. A resounding Yes. Keyworth will have standing terraces in the supporter section. Where smoke will billow from when we score. Where the drums and chants will be loudest. F Bombs will ring across the pitch. An atmosphere into which I found myself. For the first time in my life I felt part of something that would influence anything for that point on. Only the birth of my children rank higher.
You club finds you. Its the place we feel most alive. What gets us through the hard times because of the deep friendships made there. Father to sons and daughters. Child born to the Rouge and Or. Marriages. Buried in the same. I bought season tickets in 2012 five minutes after discovering Detroit had a team. Would I make any of the Matches? Didn’t know. Now my greatest fear has come true. A millionaire Boys Club could steamroll DCFC.
Here’s what I know. Attendance has grown every year by double digits. We outgrew Cass Tech. $750,000 has been raised to renovate an old school stadium in the heart of the most cultural diverse city in Michigan. FC United of Manchester is coming on May 28th to play Detroit City of the NPSL, not the MLS, in their first international match. The people of Hamtramck are welcoming us with open arms. The offices and store are there. The first item sold was to a little girl from the neighborhood. The Northern Guard will always be club first. If the Gores/Gilbert group ignores all this, DCFC will survive. Summer only soccer. Fine.A working class sport in the heart of the city that defined what working class means. I am City Till I Die. In Ink and Blood. Forever Rouge et Or.