My first big soccer experience was when I went to a Champions League game in Prague in 2009. I attended several Slavia Praha games for a few years after that, and it was in 2012 when I first encountered NGS and Detroit City FC. I could never get out to a game, though, because despite being a native of Michigan, I had joined the Army. During my time in the Army, I attended soccer games around the country and I saw how passionately soccer supporters cheered for their clubs for the full 90 minutes. I could never get attached to these teams because even though I lived and visited these places my heart was always in Michigan.
Late 2015 I moved back home to be closer with family. That is when my opportunity to become a true supporter finally presented itself. I knew about the Northern Guard, Detroit City and the success they were having in being true to supporting the community and being a passionate supporter group. I took my first step to becoming a supporter and not just a fan by putting the word out on twitter of my interest in going to soccer games. That is when the kind words came rolling in. That encouraged me to buy season tickets, even though I had never been to a game.
I was so excited and encouraged to go to a game that I decided to attend my first game in Saginaw. Combine being the only soccer fan that I know with my PTSD and I was really nervous that day. I knew of people from social media but I didn’t know anyone personally. I made the drive up to Saginaw from southern Lapeer County to Star Dust. I had in my mind that I was going to try to meet as many people as I could and learn about the way things were done within NGS before the regular season began. But the real fun didn’t start until the game began at SVSU.
The nervousness I had to meet everyone and see how they do things disappeared before the game even began. At this point I was going with the flow and seeing where it would take me. People I had never met before were walking up, shaking my hand, even some hugs and introducing themselves to me. There are many kinds of people in the stands that all knew what to do and when to do it. I didn’t pay attention to who was on my left and my right. We were all there for the same reason.
Now I went into the game totally expecting to be an observer. Just standing on the sidelines trying to learn the songs and watch the game. Boy, was I wrong. Almost as soon as the game began I was thrown into the crowd and learning as I go. At first I was focusing on trying to keep up with the fellow supporters more than what was happening on the field. It did not take long until I was singing along and feeling like I was a part of one big happy family. I had accomplished my goal in meeting almost everyone and getting a thorough introduction to the Northern Guard. I was there just to watch a match but that turned into a fun afternoon filled with song and dance.
At the end to the game I shocked to hear that people were not in “supporter shape”. I found that amusing from my experience I thought everyone did a great job. I found myself thinking If that was not as good as mid-season form then how are they at home during a regular season game? I will soon get that answer when I attend the first match in Hamtramck. If the first preseason game was just a teaser, then I look forward to seeing what is in store real soon.