I’m finally getting caught up on these.
This is the Detroit City FC vs Grand Rapids FC match day experience from our away day in Grand Rapids at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Please Subscribe here and follow on Twitter @miko_city
I’m finally getting caught up on these.
This is the Detroit City FC vs Grand Rapids FC match day experience from our away day in Grand Rapids at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Please Subscribe here and follow on Twitter @miko_city
editor’s note: this submission is from @namocat.
I looked up as we entered Keyworth, realizing for the first time just how large the gathering storm clouds were. “You might get that first rain game you’ve been wanting after all,” I joked to BeyondTheFail, pointing at the sky. “It looks pretty bad up there.”
“It’s not going to happen,” MentalAbsence said. He’d driven from Ann Arbor to support City; for him the match wasn’t just about playoffs or the #1 spot, but gloating rights over coworkers who had chosen the wrong side. “I’ve been watching the forecast, and the odds have been going steadily down throughout the day.” I wasn’t convinced, but I also wasn’t concerned. I’d stood through 90 minutes of rain at the Lawrence Tech game before the season started; a little rain wasn’t going to bring me down.
At the three minute mark we felt the first drops. By minute four, it was starting to come down. Minute five would never come that night. At 4:51 the lightning strikes stopped the clock, and all hell broke loose as the rain poured down. For the people on the family side it was the end of the night; a time to go back home, maybe change your shirt, and catch up on some Netflix. We weren’t on the family side, though. We were the Guard, and we couldn’t leave until the officials called it off. The lightning couldn’t stop us; the storm would rend the fabric of reality before it could destroy our enthusiasm. If time wasn’t obligated to follow the rules, why should anything else?
The songs continued. The chants persevered. You couldn’t do much for the smoke, but the air was thick just the same. There wasn’t a ball on the pitch, but that didn’t mean your eyes could take a break- signs of what the FO was doing, cues from the capos, the occasional lightning strike all demanded attention, shaping hopes, dreams, energy. And then there were the puddles. First a few small ones, then some larger ones, slowly connecting to each other until Keyworth began to resemble one of those shallow suburban ponds more than a proper field.
“They can’t play on this,” Amanda told us from her capo stand. “It’s not safe.” Fair enough. But the Guard didn’t seem to recognize terms like “inevitable” whether they came from hated rivals or their own ranks, so the fact that cancellation was certain didn’t seem to matter. The songs kept going. We were still in the stands. At least one of the owners came out with his staff and an array of pushbrooms and squeegees, determined to shove the water out of the way while supporters bailed it out with buckets. I couldn’t say whether any of us actually expected this to work. The storm had slowed down but it wasn’t done by any means, and I hadn’t been exaggerating to call Keyworth a pond. Rather than get my hopes up, the whole thing just seemed to add to the spectacle- who ever heard of stopping a storm with a broom?
An hour into it, the madness seemed to set in as I started thinking about which parts of my clothing might be ruined by all this. (My belt, as it turned out.) The storm had seemingly shunted us into a parallel reality, a mirror universe where things that you would have never given a second thought to became tantalizingly possible. Several of the capo stands were vacated; what would happen if I climbed up on one to help keep the singing going? I decided not to find out; I didn’t want to set that precedent for everyone else, or risk being known as the one you had to watch out for. One supporter invaded the pitch, running around with a flag. Security didn’t seem to like that. Perhaps reality still had its limits.
Then Sarge called for a supporter 11 vs 11 match. I held my breath. Surely that could never happen. Could it? If it was ever going to happen, it would be these people, on this night. He called for it again. And suddenly, people were hopping over the sidelines, taking positions. Someone got a ball- I still don’t know how- and the game began, until security decided to red card the entirety of both squads.
The night wound down eventually. For the first time I stayed until everything was put away, then bid everyone goodnight as BeyondTheFail and I walked back to our car. Less than five minutes of soccer had been played, but we still had a great time and looked forward to the match resuming on Tuesday.
When I arrived home from work that Tuesday, I heard the storms begin again. No time to think about it- I needed to cook dinner so that we could get to Fowling and hang out. I’d just have to trust that things would work out and we’d complete the game this time. By the time we finished eating, the storms ceased; BeyondTheFail checked Twitter and saw the photos being posted of Keyworth having once again taken on water. We packed it in and drove to Fowling. 4:52 was not going to be delayed any further if we could do anything about it.
We parked, I checked my phone, and I got the summons to duty via Twitter DM. The match had to go on, and it was our job to make sure it happened this time. We marched to Keyworth nearly two hours before our usual time and waded in barefoot. The next hour would be filled with contradictions in my head: the determination to fix Keyworth mixed with the fear that the match would be canceled again; frustration whenever a puddle got too difficult to bail without the corresponding realization that it meant we were succeeding at our goal. The hypnosis of manual labor had me so focused on the next bucketful of water that I couldn’t remember where we had been five minutes ago or how much progress we’d made until much later, when looking backwards at the dry parts would break the spell.
Despite it all, I was in relatively good spirits throughout the experience. “We’re not going to need axes to chop down that tree- a bucket will do nicely,” I joked. No response. Maybe it was the humidity, maybe it was the timing. Later it came time to name the small lake we had created with our buckets. “Sad Noah’s tears?” Also no response. Maybe I’m not as funny as I like to think I am. Whatever, that isn’t why we’re here.
Eventually the buckets, squeegees, and brooms did their job. I set mine down and walked off the pitch, cleaning my feet as best as I could before walking back to Fowling, leaving BeyondTheFail behind at Keyworth. I met MentalAbsence at Fowling, folded some hymnals, and headed out to march. But it seemed that 4:51’s effects on reality hadn’t lifted yet. We only marched once per match, after all. You couldn’t get more than one speech from Sarge in the same match; fate itself intervened to make him late. We sang Dirty Old Town twice instead; afterwards, there was nothing fate could do to stop us from taking the rest of that second march. And then finally, the clock resumed. The moment between 4:51 and 4:52 was the longest a second had ever taken in my life; the fight had taken several days, but we had conquered that lightning storm after all, in our own way.
In the end the oak tree lived another day- buckets wouldn’t knock it down. After the match, you could feel how tired every player and supporter was, the weekend-long ordeal having demanded our full energy just to see the match to completion at all.
It was the first time I had watched City lose a game. And yet on some level, I’d never felt so victorious in my life.
Better late than never here is the Detroit City FC vs FC Indiana Match day experience.
Bonus: here’s the partial video I made while we were away at Indiana https://youtu.be/UIDRUAK7G9g
It’s been a hell of a weekend, but in the exactly opposite way I’d usually say “a hell of a weekend.”
I’m not saying anyone should live like I’ve lived. But in my life, “a hell of a weekend” could involve lost keys, or sleeping somewhere weird, or a call to bail out a friend, or a daughter’s boyfriend drama, or something more deeply strange … but generally, a voyage deep into the weird is not overboard with positivity, the world being the heavily-shadowed, fallen vale it is. But this weekend was both a hell of a weekend, and something truly beautiful: Our hopes, distilled, given and so given back to us; their good measure pressed down, shaken together, and running over.
In the last 48 hours the Northern Guard have danced and sang, sang and shouted, and all around us was love. We’ve partied through the deluge – our love unrequited – then, scarred but smarter, summoned all our bone thugs and whatever harmonies they offered to come good, finally, in our Waterloo, Lansing. After a stumbling, harrowing start, this edition of the Rogue & Gold are now just a result away from winning the conference outright, raising the possibility that, instead of scouring the internet for streams to watch the playoffs, we could be hosting them.
It’s important to remember, from the euphoric (albeit tenuous) perch on which we now find ourselves, where this club was less than two months ago. City had opened the NPSL season like the first act of a horror movie: Two draws against lesser clubs and a road loss to Ann Arbor had every warning klaxon sounding and every warning beacon flaring – we were in trouble, isolated, wounded, pursued by a feeling that we’d already blown it before we even knew everyone’s name.
And yet here we are, back where we thought we should be from the start, after all this sturm und drang. Nine is a row and counting, an incandescent conga-line of Victory dancing right up the mountainside, and the peak now in sight. It’s important to remember where we were before we were here, because we’ll be there again. Someday. Not today, though.
One of the persistent criticisms of the Guard is that we’re not sufficiently wired into the game, that we’re some kind of sideshow wholly independent of the soccer on offer. And, frankly, there’s times where I can see that criticism landing, usually through the happenstance of a really involving chant crossing over a smoke-shrouded something happening on the field.
Then came Friday night, with its dearth of actual soccer, to serve as that criticism’s ultimate refutation: For 90 minutes after the lightning, Northern Guard stood and sang, chanted and danced in an effort to get the boys back on the field in a mood to dominate – and within minutes of the announced postponement, the songs were over, the stands emptying, even though the rain had slackened.
Without the ceremony of gametime at its center, we’re raising a cone of emotional energy to do … what, now? Thankfully we had Alex Wright and his new fiancee (now wife!) to focus our delight upon, but the rest of the monsoon was devoted to the unspoken business of letting the boys know that, like us freaks in the stands, they needed to keep their game-faces on as long as there was any chance of handing Ann Arbor ass-whipping.
It was a remarkable demonstration of group will. The ferocity of the heavier waves of the downpour was astonishing, our songs accompanied by both the static crackle of water-on-water and the basso thrumming of millions of large droplets of water slamming into thousands of human beings. The world contracts to the people one can see, the rest greyed out like they’re being rendered on an outdated video card. We sang on; the drums kept pounding, but the capos became disembodied voices when the rain hit hardest. Every flicker of lightning brought low groans into the music.
Time swiveled and shifted. We’d been here forever and always would be. We’ve been here five seconds and already feel at home. Everyone’s always welcome because everyone’s already here, one becomes by simply showing up and everyone eventually shows up, so everyone becomes us eventually. No one likes us, except us, which means everyone. We hate everyone else, who is no one else, because everyone becomes us eventually.
Part of the price one pays for that bit of transcendence is ‘difficult sight-lines,’ which translates into singing while squinting through smoke and a thicket of hand-made flags to try to see the actual football. So, no, we don’t always see the big goal, or the hard foul, or what have you. And that means that sometimes we’re caught reacting to things a little slowly – but it’s not because we’re not paying attention. It’s that we understand we have a responsibility above and beyond simply observing the football – we’re the chorus of fallen souls, reminding the living players to press on, press on for City, whatever the score, whatever the weather, whatever whenever forever. And because of that, we simply had to do what we did Friday night.
This is the Detroit City FC vs Columbus Crew College Program Match day experience
This is the Detroit City FC vs Grand Rapids FC Match day experience from Keyworth Stadium.
I’m so excited to post this. It crashed about 4 times on my computer while editing it and took about 10 hours for each render.
You can watch this on your phone in the YouTube app and use your finger to scroll around. This also works in Chrome on your computer. But the best way to watch this is in VR. If you have an iPhone like me Google Cardboard is your best option.
Here’s some cheap Google Cardboard viewers on Amazon
So quick bright things come to confusion. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act I, Scene 1
Friday: Detroit City 3 (Dargent 30, Lawson 78, Otim 82), Grand Rapids FC 1 (Timmer 28)
Sunday: Indiana FC 1 (Ahmed-Shaibu 9), Detroit City FC 3 (Lawson 7, Goodman 49, own goal 63)
The Northern Guard Supporters and Detroit City Football Club have developed a delicate symbiosis with each other: NGS bring passion and spectacle, our creativity and rage channelled into something invisible yet palpable, a rare alchemy in a mundane world. The Club exists in that mundane space, enacting the contests and bottling that alchemical product for sale worldwide; like all rare things, its value climbs as word of it spreads. The weekend was a potent reminder of both the power of this symbiosis and of its tenuous nature.
Friday saw more (many more) than five thousand folks turn out for an American semi-professional team mired near the bottom of the table, saw the thousands-strong supporters group again create a cauldron of cheerful smoky menace. But if all that is familiar – and it is, incredibly; it is very familiar indeed – then so, increasingly, is the kind of thing that happened on Sunday. And it’s Sunday’s events that should remind us to cherish, and zealously guard, the incredible symbiosis of passion and freedom we enjoy.
In summary: The game down in HoosierTown was played in a very small facility, one obviously not used to travelling support (or, really, any support at all). As NGS began working its way through its song list, apparently the guy who owns the place and possibly the team became very agitated about profanity, eventually issuing an ultimatum that the next bit of profanity would result in removal of all of NGS. Threatened by the naughty words of fellow adults, he threatened to call the police. Someone called a member of NGS a ‘jagoff’ over the PA system, if that gives you some idea. It was a mess.
This, increasingly, is what away days are like for the Rouge Rovers – we are presented with an ever-growing list of ‘don’ts,’ a list that usually ends with the magical phrase ‘terms subject to change without notice.’ This is the thing to understand about our fallen world: When something says ‘subject to change,’ it sure don’t mean by you or by us. It means by They, by Them. By the Owners. And the changes they make almost always make the alchemy more difficult, if not entirely impossible.
They’ll say “Hey we’re all for channeled tribal passion but maybe with clean, non-tribal-passion language hehhhhhh?” like that makes sense, and you swoon a bit because you don’t want to explain the complex historical and cultural reasoning behind the swearing and the deaths-head get-ups and everything else that outsiders demand justification for, since this cornfield Mussolini is just going to go, “Ayuh, and there’s children here, too” and then your head will explode rather than argue any longer with a guy who doesn’t really give even half a fuck about what you’re saying, because he’s the Owner, goddamit; he told you to do something and that means you do it.
That’s where it gets tricky, because Do we? Do we really? All of this happens in about 15 seconds of real time, generally – some dude we’ve been mocking suddenly stands up and declares a bunch of things verboten.. And yeah, fuck that guy, yeaaaaah, but also we have to exist in the world somehow, and all of us have lives outside of transforming into a foul-mouthed columns of smoke. But how do we react? Do we explode in defiance, KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKERS!, and up the ante, daring them to kick us out, singing “DO YOU HEAR THESE ASSHOLES SING? WE DON’T HEAR A FUCKIN’ THING!” in defiance, just light the fuse and watch the whole damned thing burn, fuck you fuck you fuck yooooooouuuuuuuuu … do we?
Next road game, it will be some other proto-fascist’s chance to make up rules ex tempore then threaten to use local muscle to enforce them. They do this, I think, not for any real concern over ‘the children’ above and beyond a general allegiance to a mealy-mouthed ‘unspoken code of conduct,’ but because they perceive Northern Guard’s posture, words and iconography to be exactly what they are: Dominance challenges. And because they confuse our behavior – which is focussed on supporting our guys’ sense of well-being and undermining their foes’ – with a dominance challenge in the real world, we must anticipate a whole spectrum of power displays, outbursts, or demonstrations of privilege. Because whatever we are in NGS, we’re surely not the Owners.
This is a thing we haven’t settled, entirely, I think. Our leadership has done an incredible job of defusing even the most ham-handed security buffoons and preventing drunk, committed supporters from following their ids into some kind of Green Street Hooligan fantasy. But in a situation like Sunday in Indiana – where an owner who issued no tickets could point to no listing of rules being broken, and yet NGS modified chants and dropped amplification to get along – the halftime performance of the Hokey-Pokey and a quick game of Duck-Duck-Goose were the perfect antidote. We’ll go along to get along, NGS said, but you don’t own even the tiniest bit of us. I love the MC5, too, but Bugs Bunny was a better anarchist.
Tweaks, not revolutions: The crazy thing about the entirely more-successful soccer on offer this weekend is how little changed it was from the previous approach – the pressing was still there, the quick transitions, the high line – just all moderated slightly, every edgy choice pulled slightly back toward the center. As a consequence, there were fewer stretches of dominance for Le Rouge, fewer periods during which the ball stayed pinned deep against the opponent’s goal. But the happy effects vastly outweighed the sad; the deeper positioning of the team overall meant the team’s cadre of very pacy attackers had more space behind to exploit, while the defense seemed to relax and play more expansively when not tasked with holding a terrifyingly high line.
There’s a great moment in Bull Durham where Kevin Costner’s wily old catcher tells Tim Robbins’ clueless wunderkind pitcher, “Relax, all right? Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.” I feel like Ben Pirmann finally stopped asking Detroit City to strike everybody out this weekend, and the democratic approach worked like a charm. More like this, please.
The attackers: I see that my man Andrew has anointed Shawn Lawson, and I’d like to just add my voice to those chanting prayers over Lawson as the oil soaks into his … game? I’m not sure how far I’m willing to go with this metaphor. Here’s what I see with Lawson: He’s a real striker, a guy who’s got a few tricks and whose every movement is trying to get at goal. He’s not combining for combining’s sake if there’s a shot to be had.
Combine Lawson’s quickness with the outside duo of Tyrone Mondi and Derrick Otim – each of whom has the speed to get behind and the skill to make a play once they’re back there – and this is an intimidating attack to play against. Expect to see anyone who’s scouted City to play deep and narrow and hope to bang one in on set pieces.
Plus ça change: Encouraging to see the more-vigorous rotation over the weekend result in quality minutes for a lot of guys. Louis Dargent showed he’s a real option in the back line, and the midfield didn’t immediately turn into a sinkhole filled with broken dreams in the absence of Dave Edwardson, which surprised this reporter just a smidge.
As the players from Detroit City FC and Glentoran FC took the pitch Saturday night at Keyworth Stadium, the spectre of soccer’s history in Detroit – and the larger currents of history in which the visitors have been embroiled – seemed likely to loom over the actual football. As a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Glentoran’s summer sojourn as the Detroit Cougars, the buildup left unsaid the Glens’ traditions and history related to the Troubles in Ireland and the UK; as if in opposition, the first banner hung Saturday night in the Northern Guard supporters section was a mammoth antifa banner that fronted the drum section.
Then the football happened. The football, sometimes, teaches us things. Saturday, the football reminded us that – in a world that is decidedly fallen, in a time that is defined by so many sorrows – it’s okay to feel joy.
Tyler Moorman’s impassioned performance off the subs bench was the standout, creating a host of chances before finally banging home the game-winner in the 86th minute, but the real star was the power of the game of football to bind people to each other. Thirty minutes after Moorman’s goal sent Northern Guard into a writhing smoke-addled frenzy, Glentoran players and supporters were still trading songs with them. It sounds hackneyed to say ‘they left as friends’ until one experiences it.
Whatever the two clubs were or have been, they left as friends.
It’s unusual to me meeting a foreigner who thinks highly of Detroit. Maybe in days gone by, they would hear Detroit and think of Motown, cars, and the American Dream. More recently, the blight, bankruptcy, and corruption of our city make headlines. When I was abroad, I’d say I was from Detroit and get questions like:
When I talked about this with my sister, she said when she told someone in the Middle East she was from Detroit their response was “I’m sorry.”
This weekend with Glentoran, I expected them to be nice and embrace our city for what we see in it. We might have to talk about bankruptcy and crime a little, but I was prepared to offer up the DIA and Belle Isle and a host of other wonderful sites in Detroit for them. As if I had to prove that my city is not shitty.
As DCFC supporters, we see Detroit through different eyes sometimes. We embrace the grit and celebrate the survivors. We see promise in the future. Many city supporters live, work, and play within the city limits. We are Detroit and it’s hard sometimes to go outside the bubble of Detroit-love and realize that most people don’t believe us. We are hopeful in the future, because we know our history, our struggle, and our determination, but most observers miss at least one of the pieces and doubt us.
I didn’t have to make a case for Detroit a single time this weekend.
As I stopped to take in the conversations around me at the 50th Anniversary celebration, at Fowling, at Whiskey in the Jar, I heard only glorious Glentoran drinking songs, gratitude for being recognized and welcomed, and excitement about being in Detroit for the match.
It didn’t take a single breath to convince a Glenman that Detroit is something special.
They already knew that.
I learned this weekend that Glentoran holds its own legacy inextricably intertwined with Detroit.
Their supporters and the club hold the summer of 1967 in the highest regards. The men who played as the Detroit Cougars are legendary. Talking with the former players and the supporters who remembered the Detroit Cougars was amazing. However, it was even more incredible to hear the stories from supporters who weren’t alive and have had the legends passed down from the grandfathers to their fathers to them.
I thanked more than one Glenman this weekend, and now I would like to thank you all. It filled my heart to the top this weekend to realize another club halfway around the world kept alive a legacy of my hometown for over 50 years. That despite the headlines in the newspapers, Detroit has maintained its honorary place in the club’s lore.
This weekend, I can only hope that we have added to the legacy. As the Belfast Telegraph reporter said “Glentoran and DetroitCity FC story tells us our teams are more than a club. They are families, communities where lifelong friendships are born.” This weekend celebrated the past, but it was also a beginning. A beginning for new stories, new legends, and most importantly, new friendships.
Detroit may have forgotten about the Detroit Cougars for a long time, but Belfast never did and now I never will.