It was a little over a year ago when I was putting together the SG for my local PDL club, Derby City Rovers, that I was introduced to the Northern Guard Supporters. Derby City’s owner mentioned them to me when we were discussing what kind of a supporter group we felt would embody the virtues that the club espouses. He brought up that NGS has a reputation that precedes them and that said reputation is not always the most flattering. But he stressed to me that their passion is cannot be questioned. No one loves their club more than NGS love Detroit City. So I started following what NGS was doing from afar.
In the year or so since then, I have witnessed a level of local pride and fierce loyalty to the club that I don’t see in Louisville. To say that I was impressed would be a disservice to all that I was able to bear witness to. I’ve watched as club and SG outgrew the confines of Estadio Casstecha. I gave to the drive to help renovate Keyworth and have been watching with great interest, as these people in NGS whom I’ve come to consider friends do things that defy my own imagination for what an SG can do.
There’s also the common sentiment regarding football politics. The NGS and I share an adamantly steadfast belief in supporting your local club first. We support different teams but we recognize that in our levels of American soccer we are all brothers and sisters, fighting for our clubs. Fighting to get asses in the seats. Fighting to keep our clubs going, even when bigger leagues try to force themselves into an established Non-League territory. And I suspect that these politics, and sentiment of anti-establishment, are reflections of our shared working-class mentality.
With this in mind, this past weekend, my fiancée my two-year-old son and I got to experience the Rouge Rovers firsthand. They were welcoming and treated us like we were family. We learned the songs on the fly and even my two-year-old son got into it. My son’s day was made when the Detroit City FC boys came over after the match to thank us supporters. Getting acknowledgment and a high five from the players blew his mind. He was treated like he belonged and he was the youngest NGS member there. I don’t know that I can stress that enough. That has been the biggest thing that has stood out to me and it should be a credit to those who are leaders, as well as a credit to those who practice the philosophy of inclusion and community that so deeply define the NGS.
This Wednesday, Detroit City will come to my hometown with designs on winning the second round of the US Open Cup against Louisville City. A match that I had been hoping would take place as it would mean another chance to stand and support with my friends. Friends whom, when the draw was first announced, I hadn’t yet met. Now thanks to Sunday, they are my friends with whom I had one of the best fucking times I have ever had at a football match. And friends whom I look forward to sharing that fun with again.