Monday, August 27, 2012

The Fanatics of the Bundesliga

This past weekend was the start of the league that is near and dear to me due to the constant visuals and vocals that are always sure to bring an elevated level of support for respected clubs. That's right, the German Bundesliga, where safe standing, flags, banners, and the people are allowed to be  themselves, well, for the most part. But this past weekend, there weren't that many major curtain-raising choreo displays, with the exception being  Greuther Furth who were just happy to be in 1.Bundesliga. The possible reason?  I'll let you decipher.
Eintracht Frankfurt - Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Borussia Mönchengladbach - TSG Hoffenheim

VfB Stuttgart - Wolfsburg

VfB Stuttgart - Wolfsburg

SC Freiburg - 1  FSV Mainz 05
SC Freiburg - 1  FSV Mainz 05

Borussia Dortmund - Werder Bremen
Borussia Dortmund - Werder Bremen

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mental Strength

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

I am not a happy loser. In fact I cannot stand losing. What is even worse is when it is to a rival, in this case Chicago. Seeing the loss with fellow Columbus fanatics  in Chicago seemed like a major loss at a casino. The amount of time and money invested on travel food and fuel did not have a positive return on investment. A few things made me upset on the field (losing to a team that was down a player for most of the second half) and off the field. It was the off the field antics that to be honest has been a culmination of things that I let build up inside me that basically led me to giving up my dreams and aspirations. These things that I and some other have been a bit disturbed about have been the following:

  • Lack of cohesion between songs/chants and drums
  • Lack of a more organized manner i.e. a capo system that the more successful support sections in the league have.
  • Lack of open-mindedness to creative and fresh ideas.
  • Lack of evolving mentalities, meaning, those that continue to settle for less than best, and those who with blind faith and stagnant opinions on current culture in the section.
  • The treating the supporter section as a bar, frat house, and social club as opposed to giving 100% support to the team. Alcohol ruling over cognizant support for the team.
Enter the serenity prayer, and I have come to realize that this is what I personally have to be about. Self-stress is never a good thing for healthy living. I cannot change the section on my own, and well, cannot change differing mentalities. Really, I should not look to change people in general because we as humans are different and having a utopia is not going to happen anyhow.   It is okay to have various viewpoints on how to support a team, and as tough as it is for me to accept still, I should not expect the whole section to have more edge and aggro in the manner of support (although I do dream that the ante is raised up for all minutes of every match).   The serenity mentions of having the courage to change the things that I can change. So in this instance, I can change my own attitude for the better meaning that I can increase my own manner of support and show people that hey, it is okay to be insane for this team. I can change my sour attitude even after a loss because staying bitter for days, albeit a human trait at times, cannot be allowed to linger. I mus adapt and overcome.

Groundhopping: AFC Cleveland vs. Detroit City FC

$5.00 ticket, plain and simple.
This match was on my checklist not only because I could make it (due to yet another weekend off from MLS action), but because it was a regional rivalry with first place on the line. Two teams vying for first place usually bodes well for an epic match and there will be more on that later.

Before the match, I was not sure if anything pub-wise was close to the stadium. Because of my arriving to the area during rush hour, traffic led me to Skyline Chili for my pre-match meal. Now for those not familiar with this place, it is one of the things well-known about my hometown in Cincinnati. So I would have the standard habanero cheese coneys. Heavenly goodness!

Finding the stadium was not too much of a hassle, but I did have to make a turnabout in a high school. I witnessed a motorcycle training accident there involving a beefy 6 foot 1 sized woman that slide along, but stood up like it was nothing. Rush hour traffic had me worried that I would be a bit late, but I arrived 20 minutes before the kick-off

AFC Cleveland play their first four home matches at Byers Field, a ground located in Parma, Ohio actually which is the largest suburb of Cleveland.  The capacity is listed at 11,423. This stadium seemed massive, too massive for a fourth division club, but it was a stadium built for American high school football. I was told that four high schools share the ground. Because of this fact, the surface was the dreaded plastic fieldturf surface and to add more to visual misery included the lines and numbers for American football. Like the majority of high school stadia, seating was on two sides with a running track around the field. The grandstands were concrete and the main stand's steps were quite tall.  Because this match started at twilight, the sunset blasted the main stand  for the majority of the first half. 


As far as the game itself first place was on the line between the two rivals in what is known as the Rust Belt Cup. Even though this cup involves three teams to include Buffalo, Detroit vs. Cleveland is the more "intense"  of matches. This was evident on the match tonight as the first half both teams were going all out in play and on the scoreboard. There was even a skirmish after some harsh challenges close to the benches. After exchanging goals in the first half, AFC Cleveland would pull the match winner in the second half to win 3-2.
As far as atmosphere goes maybe it was due to the location of the stadium, suburbia, this was the type of supporter culture catered towards. Evidence of this was during the second half I heard a bunch of screaming kids reacting to some type of give away from a person in mascot garb running up and down the main stand. This was happening during the run of play. Also, Detroit City supporters were chanting/singing too many vulgarities for the liking of whoever else was sitting around them. A couple of AFC Cleveland staff and a Parma police officer came by and warned them about the language. AFC Cleveland had a band of fanatics  that were drumming during the whole match. They didn't have many vocals though although they did have more chants going during the second half. Detroit City outnumbered the Cleveland  fanatics in terms of people actively showing and sounding out.

Leaving the ground was easy, but in the larger city and with it being a weekend night, traffic was moving, but there was slight congestion on the way back to the highway. Overall, mercifully the match made the night decent, overcoming the gridiron lines and the glaring sun and quite frankly I expected this in a regional rivalry match. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Groundhopping: Detroit City FC vs. Greater Binghamton FC

My regional groundhopping would go see a match that would involving first versus last, undefeated in five Detroit City FC vs. winless in six Greater Binghamton FC. This match was originally scheduled for a 1:00PM start but was bumped back to 12:00PM. I am not sure why this was, but I do know that the Detroit Grand Prix and the baseball Tigers vs. Yankees were all happening in the city.

So one might ask why I would just randomly go to a fourth division match. For starters, I love the game so much that any level would suit my liking. But it was not only seeing a match that brought me to Detroit, but rather the supporter culture of DCFC. For the first home match of the season, DCFC supporters would make a display (vs. rivals AFC Cleveland) that even those of us in the higher ranks of MLS have to respect.
So as a neutral, I would look forward to seeing what they had to offer on this wonderful day for a match. I just happened to know a couple of people that also attend Columbus matches Bradd and his wife Mary. Bradd could be considered one of the top guys in not only his supporter group but in the local and regional Michigan soccer scene. Finding the stadium was fairly easy enough, as with everything involving a GPS. So I would park right across the street from the stadium and walk to where a group of supporters hang out before and after matches.  As I approached the place, two men were out at near the entrance, one of which I would find out was a drummer for the supporters. They stood around like bouncers though, and I was bracing for a bit of a hard time, but once I mentioned Bradd, all was good. I would meet up with Bradd and we discussed the positive progress that was being made on the supporter scene in Detroit for this club. I would see evidence of this as the group of people inside were warming up their vocals in song/chant for their team. This place had the typical bar food, to which I would have chicken tenders and fries.
DCFC play their home matches at Cass Tech Stadium, a ground that has a listed capacity of 3,000. Like many grounds in lower divisions, this one was at a high school stadium meant for American football. The main stand housed the pressbox, The players benches were actually also in these stands closer to the center where they enter the field. The supporter groups and those wanting to be more vocal were across the field.  I found the city skyline as a backdrop to be a nice balance to what is basically a simple ground. Speaking of group, the field grass seemed a bit thick, but that is the case with American football grass fields.
Players entrance. Steps lead to their benches.
As to the match itself, the first 15 minutes was a bit of a feeling out process, but by halftime, DCFC would
be up 2-0. The home supporters were in full voice during that first half and for a lower division side showed just as much passion as those in MLS. Sadly, there were zero fans from Greater Binghamton. After goals the light colored smoke bombs (red, blue, a yellow, maybe a couple of flares also). In the second half, DCFC would play a better possession game and show why they are in first place, scoring two more. The home supporters were starting to run out of smoke bombs to light due to the buffet of goals being scored.  One of the goals was scored by former Columbus striker Knox Cameron, a big bruiser of a striker who lives and breathes Detroit. His paying job is for DTE, an energy company.  Overall, the synergy between players and supporters manifested itself in a major way.
As far as food amenities, the only concessions from inside the stadium were candy and soda pop and water from a cooler. There was a food truck just outside the main stand. El Guapo, a taco truck, ended up running out of food during halftime. 
The stewards were for the most part friendly and there were several Detroit PD in uniform, and for some reason a couple of undercover officers. Due to this being at a high school, no alcohol was inside the ground, so not much trouble from people. One odd thing that happened though was at halftime, people would leave the stadium to go to their vehicles, perhaps to get a few swigs of booze, some food, or whatever else. Also odd was when I went to go to the restroom, there was was a Greater Binghamton player there. Don't see that in much MLS that's for sure. Leaving the ground was a piece of cake not just because of my parking right across the street, but also the highway was not too far away. One thing that one supporter mentioned to me was due to the location of the stadium, night matches would surely require a buddy system. The stadium and school tell the story of a city with high hopes (technologically speaking), but the surrounding areas were run down a bit and there were several homeless types milling about. 

So overall the the day was just as perfect as could be. Comfortable temperatures, fans being fanatical about their team and the team coming through with a win. Also it was awesome seeing Columbus mates doing positive things for their local club.

Friday, June 1, 2012


During a two week break in league action for my club Columbus (in conjunction with the FIFA international dates) I decided to look into and then embark on a hobby known as groundhopping, where a person or people attend as many stadiums (and in the purest sense, matches) as possible. Best known in England and Germany, this hobby occurs in numerous nations and involves clubs and leagues from all levels. Fortunately for me, I live close to four clubs in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and they play in the Midwest Division - Great Lakes Conference. This league is considered to be fourth division on the American Soccer Pyramid and the players do not get paid.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lech Poznan vs Polonia Warschau

Lech Poznan fanatics putting on a display from a famous movie. Can you tell? 

Lech matches are all too familiar with extraordinary tifo and choreography. The standard for all around to world to aspire towards.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lyrics in Action

There's too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can't you see this is a land of confusion?

Those are the lyrics from Phil Collins and Genesis from the 1986 song Land of Confusion. They were telling of a time in the mid 80's in regards to societal concerns especially political one. Well fast forward to today and these lyrics still apply, especially when it comes to the current events surrounding the Columbus Crew Soccer Club and the Nordecke. Now I was not in attendance but rather at a boxing card (I know, shame on me) , but the text that came across my phone where disturbing both on and off the field. For starters, the team on the field lost at home yet again to Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0. As I tend to say failure to score, failure to win. But it was off the field that would concern me and disturb my mentals. There were reports, some confirmed and others I'm still digging information on. But talking points consist of the following:
  • Fights among fellow supporters
  • squabbles among fellow supporters
  • CSC security staff tossing people from the section
  • beats and rhythms thrown off to some silence due to a heavy vibe over the section
So there we have it. The Nordecke and the team mirroring each other in terms of having the vibe of a sewer fire. While the Nordecke can't control what happens on the field (although vocal and visible means of disapproval make a point to the team and club suits), the people in Nordecke can aim to spread a philosophy that puts more emphasis on discipline and focus on supporting the team, and not putting alcoholism and ego over the section.