Detroit’s a great sports town.
Many call it the best sports city in America.
The passion for the Tigers, Lions, Red Wings and the Pistons is second to none. I believe, this stems from Detroit’s history as a hard-working, manufacturing city. One where the fans went straight from the auto factories to watching the teams as a distraction after a long day working in one of the many plants dotting the city in those days.
This passion, as in my case, has been passed down from generation to generation–which is why sports are such an interwoven fabric across this city, region and state.
Well, recently, I found myself face-to-face with another budding passion in the Motor City–soccer.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Detroit City Football Club (DCFC) soccer match downtown recently.
According to Wikipedia, DCFC is an American soccer club that plays in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the fourth tier of the American soccer pyramid. DCFC plays their home games at Cass Technical High School in downtown Detroit–where the Technicians play their high school games during the Fall.
As we’re driving and looking for parking near the high school, we see several hundred people just chanting, marching and walking towards the football field in unison–except,they were coming from a local watering hole where these fans, known as the Northern Guard (NG), meet before each home game.
All of this Detroit PRIDE was in support of the local soccer team.
Welcome to my first experience of semi-professional soccer in Detroit!
No, it’s not like going to one of Detroit’s Big Four’s games; however, the passion is deeply-rooted and, on this beautiful, deeply sunlit day in Downtown Detroit on a recent Saturday where DCFC is hosting Cincinnati. And, the fans are out in full force.
This being my first experience, I’m not sure what to expect.
What a surprise!
As a novice, here are my observations:
- The fans were wild and having a blast.
- There was nonstop chanting–some supporting the home team and hilariously, most were directed at the visiting team and are not suitable for prime-time broadcasts.
- Detroit pride is evidenced everywhere–particularly, in the chants which end in DETROIT!
- A significant number of families attended and enjoyed this event which, in my opinion, is primarily due to inexpensive ticket prices and free parking.
This is definitely not like going to Comerica Park or Ford Field because the noise levels are not music-induced, but truly natural. The fans and their passion are evident before, during and after the match.
It’s a great urban environment to watch DCFC with the skyline off to the southeast of the field and traffic humming softly as the match continues. In a nutshell, it had a high school atmosphere with semi-professional athletes.
Now, to the fans–specifically, the NG, which is the cheering section consisting of 500-700 people at each game. There’s no requirement to join–just show up. I was startled by some of the chants. They generated some of the most unique, humorous and smile-inducing chants I’ve ever heard and, in fact, set the tone by even singing the national anthem–all with no music.
NG was founded by local soccer fan, Ken Butcher, in 2012. It was a way to support DCFC while challenging opposing teams. Since its inception in 2012, it has grown significantly to its present numbers and in fact, NG travels to away games to bring hometown support–often having more attendance than the opposing team’s crowd.
There’s significant Detroit pride these days with many far and near, want to support the city. Well here’s another way to show your Detroit Pride.
While this region has professional sports and outstanding universities with excellent sports teams as well, the DCFC is an up and coming team with passion that’s second to none.
And If you’re looking for an inexpensive and enjoyable day in the Motor City with family and/or friends, just head to Cass Tech and enjoy the atmosphere.
Will I be back? In the words of the legendary Martha Jean, “the Queen”, …”you betcha…”. I hope you do the same.
By the way, a perfect way to end a perfect day saw DCFC win 1-0 over their counterparts from Ohio.