Monday, March 28, 2011

Better Know A Supporter’s Group – Crew Union

We continue to expand our 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“. 

Our goal: to feature each of the MLS teams’ supporters groups. We’ve sent e-mails to each and every SG in Major League Soccer and soon you’ll be able to check all what each is all about and what awesomeness they have to contribute to our growing American soccer world.

When we devised this idea a while back it was cool to be able to see what each supporter group is about, but in light of the terrible, one-sided, anti-American, condescending profile of Philadelphia’s Sons of Ben SG by the British GQ (not even going to link to it to give them the site hits) we think its all the more important to give supporters groups in Major League Soccer the proper exposure and voice they deserve.

Today it’s the Columbus Crew’s Crew Supporters Union

As told to the Free Beer Movement by Crew Union President John Clem.

The Basics

SG Name: Crew Supporters Union (or ‘Crew Union’ for short)

MLS Club: Columbus Crew

Stadium: Columbus Crew Stadium

Year SG Founded: 2006

Section Name (if other than SG name): The Nordecke, which is German for ‘North Corner’, honoring the cities German heritage.

Any other SGs apart of your section?

Hudson Street Hooligans. La Turbina Amarilla also used to be in the Nordecke, but are moving for 2011 season for more space.

Location of SG in Stadium (section #, side, direction):

The five sections composing the northeast corner of the stadium.

The Meaty Questions

What are the origins of your groups’ name?

Crew Supporters Union is a play on the construction worker theme of the Columbus Crew. Initially we had called our group Crew Supporters Union: Local 614 (614 is the area code in Columbus), but that was later dropped.

Favorite chants/songs?

The difficult thing with MLS supporters is that due to how intertwined they are with US National team supporters groups like Sam’s Army and American Outlaws a lot of the best chants/songs get passed around the league pretty quickly. I love songs like “We Love Ya”, but it’s now being done by many supporters in the league. Love Vindaloo, but falls into this category as well.

I’m a big fan of player specific chants. For example for Liverpool born Andy Iro we sing “He’s big, he’s British, he’s probably good at quidditch, Andy Iro! Andy Iro!”. For two-time MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall we often sing “Tried to get the ball past Marshall, he said ‘No, No, No!” to the tune of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab song.

Here’s a link to lyrics and recordings for a good chunk of our songs.

Why is sitting in the supporters section the “best seat in the house”?

Standing with Crew Union or anywhere else in the Nordecke offers a unique experience in Columbus. Yeah we have the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, the Clippers (AAA affiliate of the Indianns) and Ohio State football and basketball, those experiences don’t offer the same level of creativity, passion, and intensity.

People don’t even have to be soccer fans to enjoy a game in the Nordecke, but once they do they’ll come back for more.

Brag. What makes your SG one of the best supporters groups in MLS?

We travel. Both for home games and away games, I don’t know if this comes from being Midwesterners and not minding a few hour drive or what.

For home games we have so many members that drive in from other large cities in the region that we’ve established satellite groups. CSU: Local 317 for example is a chapter in Indianapolis that organizing viewing parties and carpools to Columbus for home games. Similar groups with varying levels of organization exist in Cincinnati, Detroit, Cleveland, and Louisville. We also have presences in Washingon DC, Boston and New York that ensures we always have a presence at those away games.

For away games if it’s drivable we’ll be there and usually take a bus. Last year in conjunction with Hudson Street we took large contingents to matches at NY, DC, Philly and Chicago, and three of those were weekday games. NY in particular was an up and back on a Thursday night match that lasted just over 30 hours.

Greatest game(s) in team history?

While it may be easy to say the 2008 MLS Cup final at the Home Depot Center where the Crew handled NY pretty easily on the way to a 3-1 win, but I think most people will agree with me when I say the 2008 Eastern Conference Final against Chicago. It was a defining moment for the Crew and it’s fanbase after never winning the ECF in several previous attempts. To do it against a huge rival against Chicago and former Crew icon turned villain in Brian McBride just added to the drama.

You can feel the outpouring of emotion in this video when the team came over to the Nordecke after the match.

Predictions for this season?

Top 3 in the Eastern Conference and another U.S. Open Cup run. I’m a bit of an optimist, but I still think most people are underestimating the Crew. The core of the team is still there and they know how to win.

Why Major League Soccer? Why American soccer?

It’s the best we have and for a new generation of soccer fans it’s been all they’ve known domestically which is great. The league is going to keep growing and getting stronger and the quality will keep getting better. Will it ever be the top sports league in the United States? Probably not anytime soon, but that’s what’s great about MLS, it offers an option for people that don’t want the normal sit on your hands experience you get with most American professional sports.

For more information and information about joining up with the Crew Supporters Union check out their website.

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