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Published on January 29th, 2013 | by webmaster

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ChicagoMCFC Origins (Paul Snyder)

This Branch News was originally posted in MCFCSC Chicago.

 

Yes, it probably looks a little suspicious that we decided to make ourselves proper and fill out all the appropriate paperwork in 2012 (or shall it forever be known as #champions2012? I’m OK with that), but winning tends to enhance that feeling of community and camaraderie, doesn’t it?

For many years, what’s become the Chicago MCFC Supporters group was just a handful of City fans. They’d congregate in a corner of the Globe Pub, in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood, in the early hours of Saturday or Sunday mornings. Hopefully the match not only would be on one of the pub’s TVs, but part of an actual TV broadcast as opposed to a spotty Internet stream that never let it be made too clear which player had the ball, what call the ref was making or even what the actual score was (unless, of course, you were a particularly adept squinter).

I was welcomed into the group simply because one of them noticed me wearing a City top during the 2011 FA Cup Final against Stoke.

“Hey, you know we have a little club here that watches the games together,” I was told. By “little club,” of course, he meant a group of about three (sometimes four) guys that huddled around one TV while every other screen in the place blasted the matches that featured Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and some other club from outside of Manchester. There were no drink specials for this group, any sign of Manchester City allegiance at the pub was hard to find (unless you count the Oasis tunes that poured out of the jukebox) and even with our club on the precipice of winning the first bit of silverware in (dare we remind ourselves how many?) years, there was an awful lot of guardedness in the optimism about City’s chances to secure the FA Cup.

Of course, looking at Chicago sports teams (let alone City), that’s a perfectly reasonable attitude to have.

I looked in the direction this other Manchester City fan gestured and saw three other guys in City shirts give me a nod. I was in. We watched the couple remaining matches of the season, shared Beady Eye’s “Blue Moon” video amongst ourselves during the offseason and congregated for the sucker-punch season opener that was the City-United Community Shield match.

But as the 2011/12 campaign continued, and City racked up more wins and goals with each week, more City-outfitted people came out and expanded that “little club” at the Globe. Other clubs’ fans might have delighted in singing “Where were you when you were sh*t?” at us, but that’s an easier question to answer in America: probably at home in front of a computer that could give you live score updates, if not the blessed possibilities of actual audio or video streams. Premier League soccer (er, football) has never been a priority of American TV programming, and even when City had managed to fight its way in the previous decade, they seldom involved the marquee matches you could get on satellite TV. Winning didn’t mean we could come to the Globe and boast about having been there all along—it simply meant we knew we could come every week and see City on TV.

And while the more jealous among supporters of lesser clubs like to throw the “nouveau riche, nouveau fans” tag around, all you have to do is talk to the members within our ranks. An Oldham native whose intense hatred of Tottenham dates back to his father taking him to the 1981 FA Cup Replay, a Manchester native who was at Wembley in 1999 to witness Paul Dickov’s equalizer (and the promotion out of the third division ranks that followed that tense penalty shootout), a Baltimore native whose uncle took him to Maine Road when he was just a boy and plenty more who can mention names like Lee, The Buzzer, Bell, Quinn, Lakey, Kinkladze, Rösler and Goater with the same affection they now say Aguero, Kompany, Silva, Yaya, Hart et al. Many of us have been there through the thin years. Many of us started paying attention when the tide began to roll in our favor. The point is Manchester City brought us all together. What else matters?

The friendships forged within the group have not only made it exponentially larger than it was when I was nodded in back in 2011, they’ve gone outside the pub on Saturday or Sunday mornings to group outings that turn into long-winded chats with Scully outside a Noel Gallagher show or tossing back drinks as Mike Summerbee muses on the golden days after he and City in the Community (with a little help from us, of course) open up the City Soccer field at Haas Park in Chicago. You’re just as likely to catch us having it at a New Order gig (in honor of the late Blue, Ian Curtis) or tearing up a backyard cookout in summer as you are to find us screaming at the Globe after Aguero puts another one in the back of the net. On the occasions that one of us makes the spiritual pilgrimage to Eastlands, it’s more than likely that another is securing the match day ticket for the lucky soul and another still is calling his or her family back home to make sure they can put a visitor up for a night or two (or five).

The supporters have become active in the community, as well. When word got out that City in the Community would bring its latest City Soccer pitch to Haas Park in Chicago, we showed up en masse not only for the unveiling (and to get to see the Premiership trophy and meet Buzzer), but also to have a kickabout with some of the kids from the community, and spread the Blue word both in local media and to others around Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.

We also donned those fashionable blue felt Santa suits on December 2nd to take part in the Santa Stroll around Chicago that visited many famous Chicago landmarks and took us on a ride on the famous Chicago El train’s Blue Line. The day started at Haas Park for more footie with community kids and included singing the “Kolo/Yaya” song for numerous bewildered Chicagoans at various points throughout the city.

Although Aguero’s 93rd minute stunner to cap off the 2012 campaign is probably everyone’s most cherished moment, I have to say the Chicago MCFC Supporters group’s defining moment came 8 months earlier when City pounded United 6-1 at Old Trafford. Sure it was more than a year before we’d sign the papers to be recognized as “official,” and there were only about 12 of us crammed around two small tables at the back of the Globe (while the rest of the pub was filled with those awful-looking red shirts), but from the moment Balotelli’s opening strike went in, the day was ours. By the 4th goal, we were lined up against our table doing the Poznan, and by the 5th goal, most of the reds in the Globe (along with those at Old Trafford) were making their way to the exit. Those who stayed were treated to a 6th, and by the final whistle, we’d all screamed ourselves hoarse, but saved just enough voice to make sure a few bottles of champagne were put on the tables. After all those matches that were broadcast on the lone TV in back via a web-stream, City took over the Globe’s attention for good that day. After ramming the point home in April with the 1-0 handling of United at the Etihad, few United fans thought themselves brave enough to return and found quarter at other pubs in Chicago.
It’s fitting that the Globe now boasts a “Heart of the City” award. There’s really no other place in Chicago that a City fan’s heart should beat (or stop, as it so often does) on match day.

-Paul Snyder

 


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