Better Know A Supporters Group – Section 8 (Chicago Fire)
Planting the Seed of Soccer Across America: Danny Beerseed
We continue our comprehensive coverage of American soccer culture with our series “Better Know a Supporters Group,” just like Steven Colbert's “Better Know a District” from “The Colbert Report“.
SG Name: Section 8 Chicago, the Independent Supporters Association (ISA) for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club
MLS Club: Chicago Fire Soccer Club
Stadium: Toyota Park
Year SG Founded: The ISA convened officially in 2003, but there are several Fire SGs that predate the ISA.
Section Name (if other than SG name): Section 8 / The Harlem End / Sections 116-119
Any other SGs apart of your section?
Several. Section 8 is not a supporters group but an association of groups and independent fans. Active groups include (but are not limited to) Ultras Red-Side, Husaria, Fire Ultras, Whiskey Brothers 05, Acme Irregulars, Westmont Ultras, Far West Front, Red Scare, Partisans, and more (I’m sure I’m forgetting someone and will probably get called out for it). There’s also Sector Latino, who formerly shared space in the Harlem End but moved to the other side of the stadium last season so they could concentrate on building their group and supporting the Fire barra-brava style with chants in Spanish. S*L remain good friends with the rest of S8 and we work together to support the Fire at home and on the road whenever possible.
Location of SG in Stadium (section #, side, direction): Sections 116-119, north (Harlem) end. S*L is in section 101.
The Meaty Questions
What are the origins of your groups’ name?
Chicago Fire fan culture began in the Spring and Summer of 1997, with the establishment of Barn Burners 1871. The group formed as a precursor to the announcement of Chicago's selection as a site for the league's first expansion team, and spent the time prior to the club founding in October of that year laying groundwork for an organization dedicated to the needs of the nascent fan base. BB1871, along with original club GM Peter Wilt, selected Section 8 at Soldier Field as a designated standing area to encourage the style of fandom traditionally seen globally in soccer, at sporting events worldwide, and in college athletics in America.
The experiment was an instant success, drawing large numbers on the way to the Fire's league championship that first season; and established the club and Fire supporters as leaders of the movement in North America.
The Fire Ultras, originally inhabitants of Section 9 in the opposite South End corner, chose to move into Section 8 in 1999, an event credited as the true beginning of “Section 8” as it is known now. By mixing the American style of BB1871 with the continental European ultras style of FU98 in a way that could only happen in Chicago sports, a completely new, vibrant, and infectious blend occurred.
Urbs in Horto Magico, Hot Time in Old Town Tonight, La Maquina Roja, Just Can’t Get Enough, Fire Fans Know Just One Song, Slow to Fast/Fast to Slow, Don’t Stop Living in the Red, Matt Reis’ Mother has a Cock, and many, many more.
Why is being in the supporters section the “best seat in the house”?
No one in our sections sits, for one thing… we’re standing on the benches the whole game. Personally, I love seeing the team score right in front of the sections. The goal is very close and you can see the build-up of plays clearly right up to the finish. Otherwise it’s the collective energy and camaraderie that is ever-present during Fire games… it always seems strongest in the Harlem End.
Brag. What makes your SG one of the best supporters groups in MLS?
Creativity, diversity, volume, organization, away support, persistence, honoring history and community, and charitable giving.
Greatest game(s) in team history?
The MLS Cup/U.S. Open Cup Finals in 1998 when the team won the double in their first season. The 2000, 2003, and 2006 USOC championships. Any time we beat New England, especially in the playoffs. Taking down NYRB 5-1 after they snuck in and took our then-coach J.-C. Osorio was pretty great, too.
Predictions for this season?
We’re in the midst of a great USOC run once again, everyone has high hopes for that to continue. We may or may not make the MLS playoffs but there is a sense that the core of the team is being rebuilt with promising young players that will serve us well in seasons to come.
Why Major League Soccer? Why American soccer?
Supporting the local club, simple as that.
For information and/or to join Section 8, visit their website!
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