Saturday, May 27th, 2017 – Detroit City FC 1 Glentoran FC 0
First, a confession. When the friendly with Glentoran was accounced this past winter, it felt a little underwhelming to me. Part of it was I didn’t think anything could top last year’s epic meeting with FC United of Manchester, but it was also because I’d been holding out hope for a bigger, sexier name – possibly a German club such as Union Berlin or maybe even St. Pauli.
As I learned more about Glentoran and the club’s ties to Detroit, though, my stance softened and my interest level grew. Listening to some of the traveling supporters on Saturday, what stood out were the parallels between their city and ours. Both large industrial centers, Belfast specialized in shipbuilding at the same time Detroit was cranking out automobiles. And just a couple years after the ’67 riots here (which occurred a matter of weeks after the conclusion of Glentoran’s first summer as the Detroit Cougars), Belfast began its own period of violence and upheaval.
When a Glentoran supporter explained his club’s motto to me, I thought it epitomized the spirit of the occasion. le jeu avant tou is French for “the game above all,” and Saturday’s match was the embodiment of that sentiment. From the play on the field to the beautiful post-match exchanges between all the players and supporters, this was a true friendly in every sense of the word.
In the setting of Keyworth Stadium, the return of two of the original players from the Cougars and the glorious tribute jerseys made this a celebration of the game in our city and its links to the past. If it’s true that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, then there must be a corollary: Those who remember their history have the privilege of reliving the best of it.
(1) Tyler Moorman made his first appearance of the season at forward and looked pleasingly-dangerous. Friendly caveats apply, but he made some good attacking runs, drew the penalty (Side Note: When was the last time we converted one of these? Josh Rogers?), and stuck with the play to score the late-match winner.
He deserves to see plenty of playing time starting this weekend.
(2) Reinforcements. Also seeing their first real action of the season were Omar Sinclair, Aaron Franco, Tyrone Mondi, and Mauricio Castorino (late sub at Ann Arbor). All four had solid performances highlighted by one or two moments of excellence. Despite reported injuries to Zach Schewee and Troy Watson, there are still plenty of quality options at every position. Time to figure out the right combinations is running short, though. This weekend – home against Grand Rapids on Friday, away to Indiana on Sunday – is pivotal.
(3) The announced attendance of 5067 was an absolute joke. I know it’s extremely difficult or next to impossible to get a precise count on the number of people, but with the west stand nearly full and a newly-renovated part of the supporter section now open, the real attendance was probably somewhere between 6000 and 6500. There were one or two similarly head-scratching numbers last year, and this one has gotten me to wondering if it’s even worth doing my annual attendance analysis at the end of the season. If I do I might add in my own estimates for the matches where the number seems particularly off.