Beginning From the End

Wednesday July 17th, 2013 – Detroit City FC 2, Windsor 0

Via Detroit City FC Twitter
Via Detroit City FC Twitter

Among the many tired sports clichés is one that goes something like this: “We play for the fans, we wouldn’t be here without them.” At the highest levels of American sports, this is largely untrue. Multi-billion dollar television deals, revenue-sharing and a bevy of corporate sponsorships ensure that many franchises turn a profit or at least break even no matter how many people actually show up to watch them play. The worst of the worst owners may even intentionally put forth mediocre teams season after season, knowing that for them, fan support is largely irrelevant.


When it comes to soccer in America, the reality is quite different. Supporters’ groups are generally fond of reminding their ownership, the league, and pretty much anyone else who will listen that, “Soccer Without Supporters is Nothing!” I always thought this was a bit melodramatic until my first-hand experience this week.

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In response to a plastic bottle-throwing incident at a match three days earlier, the supporters of Detroit City FC were informed that (at the behest of the NPSL) representatives of Detroit Public Schools would be at Cass Tech to monitor us and that any vulgar language or other misbehavior would result in the club losing access to the stadium next season.

Due to this disproportionate crackdown, the march to the stadium was held in silence, the usual chants and songs were replaced by nursery rhymes and sarcasm (“generic sports chant clap-clap clap-clap-clap”), and a 10 minute period of silence was held.


Hearing the people who live along the route of the march to the stadium (“We wanna hear you sing we don’t give a damn!”), the kids in the stands (“Why aren’t they singing?,” “Where’s the smoke?), and even the captain of the team (“Get back over where you belong”), I realized what an integral part of the club that its supporters have become in such a short time. I’m not so pompous to say that the club would be nothing without us, but it certainly wouldn’t be as popular and successful.

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City won the match, but the story of the day was the club itself. In less than two years, Detroit City FC has gone from an idea in the heads of five men to a club that is close to outgrowing its fourth-division crib.

Since the offseason is long, cold, and dark – as of today there are 9 months and change until the next match – there is plenty of time to retrace City’s steps over the past 20 months and maybe even speculate a bit about the future.

If nothing else, it will at least be a way to pass the time…


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