The Supporter Series on TSG celebrates supporters clubs across the US.
“We thought it was hilarious that a grown man had a soccer piggy bank in his car.”
The Supporter Series returns!….and we’ve got another coming shortly!
When TSG launched our Supporter Series with a look-in on the Pali Blues and their supporter group, the Tony Danza Army, we learned something very quickly.
That is, that the support of the club is not proportional to magnitude of the club or program. In fact, the support for soccer at arguably lower levels of skills may just be more fervent as teams welcome the spirit, and yes, the attendance of these groups. That last point still up for debate.
But what happens when a support group isn’t just about one team, but about a whole city….and about a whole city that has endured some tough times both on the sporting circuit lately and with their overall economy.
Enter the Motor City Supports Group whose rooting, well, roots lie with the Michigan Bucks, but who are truly a beacon for soccer in Detroit Michigan.
Our (“TSG”) chat with the group through correspondence with their president Andrew Kruz (“MCS”):
TSG: Okay, let’s just address the elephant in the room out of the gates here….or rather “the ceramic pig”, tell me the story of “Alexi.”
The story of “the pig” may not be as interesting as you would think.
(TSG interjection…”thanks Andrew…that’ll grab the readers…”)
A few of us got together for the Fulham vs Arsenal game at my house 2 years ago. It was an earlier game and, like all good soccer fans, we started the morning off drinking beer while watching. Once the game finished with an Arsenal victory, we decided to head to a bar for lunch and more libations.
We all crammed into one of the guys’ car and, after some digging through the stuff in his back seat, we came across “the pig.”
We thought it was hilarious that a grown man had a soccer piggy bank in his car, so we took it into the bar to make fun of him some more, as soccer fans tend to be relentless.
Someone decided to get the pig a beer.
With that, a drinking game was invented.
The pig is weighted just right as to balance in a standard pint glass. Knock the pig out and chug the beer.
The joke became that he drinks more than anyone else in the group. So, from there, he started attending all of the group functions and has continued his role as designated drinker and legend.
He has been to viewing parties, pickup games, MLS games, PDL games, and will be at the Green Soccer Bowl. He has since had a makeover and now dons the MCS colors. He has also been named after a famous local soccer player. Can you guess who?
TSG: Okay, how to follow up here.
Backtracking Andrew, how did the Motor City Supporters group come to be? What was your specific role? How did the group to choose to support the Bucks?
The Motor City Supporters grew out of the fan group for the Michigan Bucks. The group wanted to replicate what has been done by the fans in Philly.
We were fans of the Bucks, looking to give them a good home field advantage. We knew there is a huge soccer community in Detroit that is relatively untapped. Looking to grow the fan base, we wanted to tap into that market and unite the fans of the beautiful game. With that goal in mind, MCS was born.
My title is President, but that doesn’t mean I am the only man running the show. This has been a group effort from the start, and will stay that way; this is about bringing fans together and building a soccer community.
TSG: How is the interaction with the team and the management?
The Bucks, and PDL in general, are extremely welcoming of fans.
The team is very accessible, and members will even stop and have a conversation with you after the game.
They are mostly college guys, and local college guys at that, that do this for the love of the game, just like we do. The management of the team is extremely approachable and have worked with us very well. They will listen to all of our crazy ideas and take them into consideration. They work with us on season ticket packages and arranging travel. Everyone in the organization is focused on the fan and the quality of the product on the field, it is great.
TSG followed up with Dan Duggan, CEO of the Bucks who had this to say about the group:
“The MCS first appeared at Michigan Bucks games in May 2008 and grew from a small group of about a dozen or so to over 30 passionate fans that bought season tickets, showed up at games in time to tailgate and prepare their 90 minutes of song, sarcasm and celebration for the Bucks success.”
“We have created special MCS t-shirts and provide Bucks scarves for the group and hope their followers exceed 100 members for our first home game this season on May 22 at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac.”
TSG: The stated objectives of MCS is to be broader than supporting the Bucks, how has this impacted the group?
The goal of MCS is to bring soccer fans together, not just to support a single team, although that is how the group was born.
We do weekly pickup soccer in coordination with local indoor facilities, we get together and watch soccer at the pub on an almost weekly basis, we gather with the newly formed AO Detroit chapter to watch USMNT games, and we travel to various MLS cities to watch live games.
No one participates in everything but there is something for everyone no matter in what capacity they love the sport. This has helped us to grow to a network of over 500 people and it seems to be accelerating, especially this year.
TSG: What role does MCS have in the Green Soccer Bowl?
MCS was surprisingly caught off guard by the announcement of the Green Soccer Bowl.
It should be a very interesting tournament and hopefully it grows and expands every year that they hold it. There are some exciting teams slated for this year and we will be there waving flags and watching some world class soccer. Hopefully, it will also provide us the opportunity to spread the word about MCS and our events, thus expanding group membership and participation.
TSG: In a town where the Tigers, the Pistons, the Red Wings, and I’m sure the Lions get top billing, what’s the differentiating factor(s) that get people interested in soccer? Just how big is soccer in the Motor City?
There is a large youth soccer community in this country, particularly in Michigan and the Metro Detroit area.
Detroit has shown tremendous support for soccer in the past, and we are working to prove that again with the Green Soccer Bowl. For example, Detroit soccer fans have have shown strong support during the days of the original NASL, the World Cup in 1994, and more recently, when Ford Field hosted the US Women’s National Team as they played China back in December 2008 in a friendly.
For that match, almost 12,000 attended, which was completely unexpected, almost unheard of, for a weeknight women’s match, and double what they projected. That was the highest attended weeknight match for the US women’s team since the sendoff for the legends of the game (Mia Hamm, Julie Fowdy, and Joy Fawcett) back in December 2004 in Los Angeles. And all that doesn’t even take into account the fact that 3-4 inches of snow fell the day of the match and canceled school for most of the area. Now that we have a stage to prove it, we will do our best.
TSG: We also understand you’ve cultivated a budding relationship with the new owners of the Silverdome. Talk about it. What are your expectations? Or maybe more importantly what are theirs?
I am proud to say that we do, in fact, have a relationship with the new owners of the Silverdome.
I got a call out of the blue one Saturday afternoon, and it really surprised me. They are serious about bringing the dome back as a world class facility for sports and entertainment. They have communicated their goals to us and maintain regular communication with myself and the other members of the group. They also invited us out to the press conference for the unveiling of the first events and a tour of the facility. We even got to meet the organizer of the Green Soccer Bowl while we were there.
The facility looks great and they are committed to it making it work. My expectations are the same as they have always been for soccer in Detroit, and I would like the dome to be a part of that, but it is not up to me. Triple Sports & Entertainment has told us they are exploring all options for the Silverdome including a variety of sports (football, soccer, lacrosse, etc.). Hopefully there is big news coming and we look forward to it.
TSG: Anything else we’ve missed?
Just wanted to say thank you for the opportunity to be part of this and hopefully we will have big news in the coming months.
That news….well let’s just say that a little entity called MLS might play into it.