I don’t believe I’d ever heard Josh Rogers’ voice before. Hell, I don’t think I’d ever heard any of Detroit City FC’s players before. But Wednesday I could hear them all, chattering to each other on the pitch, as I’m sure they do every game.
They weren’t any louder than usual.
No, we could hear them because those of us in supporters section at Cass Tech, who so proudly claim to be “louder than our foes”, had gone silent.
There had been an incident, you see. Just a few days prior City had lost to Erie Admirals in the Great Lakes Conference final. As the final whistle blew, many of the Erie players decided they’d rather taunt us than celebrate with their teammates and fan. Some people in our section lost their cool and threw water bottles on to the field at the players.
Complaints were filed with the National Premier Soccer League, calls were made to the Detroit Public Schools (who are nice enough to let us play at Cass Tech.)
On one hand, we were trying to be on our best behavior while officials from DPS looked on. On the other hand, we wanted to show the league and the folks from Detroit Public Schools just what a DCFC match would be without the supporters. Clearly, we are awful, terrible, no-good excuses for human beings, but City matches wouldn’t be the same without us.
I shouldn’t have to say it, but I will anyway; Members of the organized supporters groups — the Northern Guard, Motor City Supporters and Le Rouge Supporters — do not in any way condone throwing objects on the field, especially when they are directed at athletes or officials. This isn’t ‘Nam, there are rules, they are posted right there on the fence as you walk into the supporters section.
Nearly every team in our conference has complained about the Detroit City FC supporters stands, and the Northern Guard Supporters in particular. They say that we don’t make it a family-friendly environment, that we distract and harass the players and that our vulgarity is offensive. They’re not lying, but we set out to do those things and we wear those complaints like a badge of honor.
Up until the Erie incident, to the league’s credit, they’d largely looked the other way. Hell, they use pictures of DCFC and the NGS on their website and Facebook pages. Understandably, though, they can’t abide objects being thrown from the stands at players and despite our efforts to police ourselves and root out the offenders, they called the Detroit Public Schools to rat us out.
City rents Cass Tech stadium from the Detroit Public Schools and after hearing about our rowdiness, some officials from DPS wanted to see it for themselves to make sure we weren’t creating a liability issue for them. If they decided we were, they could tell the club that they can’t play at Cass next year. We simply couldn’t have that.
The DCFC front office also posted a note in the program, asking us to behave.
Dear DCFC Fans,
Thank you for all your passion and support this season. As we draw to a close, we need your help in showing the league, fellow NPSL teams and Detroit Public Schools that we have the best fans in the nation. While we truly appreciate the passion that you’ve shown at each and every match, foul and offensive language used by some supporters has created an atmosphere that is not acceptable and distracts our players from focusing on the match. Furthermore, the consumption of alcohol inside the stadium is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated. These policies are in place to ensure that everyone can enjoy the game in a safe environment and, if not upheld, put us at serious risk for being prohibited from playing at Cass Tech stadium in the future.
We appreciate your cooperation in helping us continue to build the best soccer club in the nation.
Detroit City FC Ownership
So there we were, sitting in silence throughout much of the first half, hearing sounds of the game that we’d never heard before. We heard teammates calling out for each other. We heard referees instructing the players and strangest of all, we heard fans from the other side of the field chanting “Where’s our hooligans?”
We sang children’s songs and cleaned-up versions of our usual chants, including an ode to Sgt. Scary’s beautiful wife (she had a clean bill of health!) and a rousing version of Old McDonald led by one of our youngest supporters.
Even the march to the stadium was made in protest. We marched through the streets of Detroit in silence while the residents of the apartments sat out on their stoops pleading with us to do our usual singing.
“We like to hear you sing ‘No one likes us!’” someone shouted as we passed.
For 70 minutes we were the quietest, most polite and well-behaved fans anyone could ask for. We were like an AFC Cleveland owner’s wet dream. We all paid to get through the door and didn’t make a mess.
It was only when I heard Josh Rogers’ voice a second time that I truly realized what our presence at these matches means to people. The DCFC captain came over to where we were sitting on the family-friendly side of the stands and told us to “Get the fuck back over to where you belong.”
The players wanted to hear us in full throated support of the club one last time. They wanted smoke and they wanted drums and they wanted to celebrate with us when the match was over. The supporters mean as much to the club as the club means to the supporters, which is saying a lot, because many of us in the stands at Cass live and die with this club.
So we marched back over to our spot in the supporters section. We sang and we screamed and we lit more smoke than I’ve seen all season. For the last 20 minutes, we were right back where we were supposed to be, doing what we should have been doing all along.
I haven’t yet heard whether we were nice enough to pass the inspection the DPS inspection, but we surely didn’t give them any reason to believe all the nasty things that have been said about us.
We showed them what it’s like without us there and then we showed them why it’s so important that we are. We made our point, then we made some noise.