Tag Archives: DCFC

Faust

Faust: Who holds the devil, let him hold him well, He hardly will be caught a second time.

During the first DCFC season, my friend Zak and I had fashioned some cheap and easy flags. For mine he spray painted a quick trio of fleurs de lys on it in no more than two minutes and called it a day. Meanwhile he found a rouge-colored fabric with golden fleurs de lys sewn into it.

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The next year I decided to get a bit more advanced. Zak had dropped out, so I was on my own. I bought a blank white flag, marked it off, and covered it in rouge, gold, and white checkers. It was janky, the colors looked like shit, and the lines between them were blurred and runny.

Over-all it blew. But it made it to quite a few matches. And as I told one supporter who called it shit but was empty handed, “It’s better than yours.”

Checker

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The next two seasons I was flagless. Generally it was pretty liberating, not having to worry about where the flag was, keeping track of it, or worrying about someone running off with it (like anyone would steal that piece of shit). But I missed having one. For some reason I had it in my head that I needed a flag.

This season all that changes.

I’m back in the business of making a flag. This post is/was not written after the fact. I am saving it as a draft and publishing it upon the completion of the flag, which I have dubbed “Faust”. As I work I will add more to the post so you’ll get a stream of thought. Generally I’ll break writing periods with quotes from or about Faust.

Faust, for the uninformed was a German folklore character who sold his soul to the devil for all sorts of powers.

I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.

Unlike previous flags, no small deal of work went into designing Faust. The basis was the flag of the Kingdom of Württemberg. The banner at the bottom reads Furchtlos und Trew [sic]. I would keep that and fix it to the correct Furchtlos und Treu meaning “Fearless and True/Loyal”, a great line for any hardcore supporter.

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I wanted a way to mesh this flag with the flag of Detroit.

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My thought was to work on the crest in the middle. Instead of Württemberg and Swabia, my thought would be to create a simplified version of the above: a field of stars, a gold lion on red, fleurs de lys on white, and alternating red and white stripes.

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I worked on simplifying the Detroit flag. I removed the needless crest. Replaced the fleurs with something a bit more complicated, then replaced that with something less complicated but still more traditional than the ones on the Detroit flag.

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Concerning the lions of England, I knew at first I’d rather a single, better detailed lion than three smaller ones. Plus I wanted it in a more active pose.

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So I looked at some more complicated, active lions. And I mean, really, that one has a sword! So the sword won.

The blue field of stars should’ve been simple. The Detroit flag has 13 for 13 states, but their pattern is kind of lame. I chose to replace them with something based off the flag of the United States when Michigan was added to the Union.

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Lastly I flipped red to the top so the red banner would be on the black half of the flag. So here is the first main version of the Faust:

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Some other changes would be needed. Originally I liked the black lion and the gold stag – it made a good reference to Michigan, but it was a bit complicated and the black wouldn’t show up well on the black and red banner.

First I considered a skeletal crow and a a skeleton as supporters.

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But with zero artistic ability I switched to the Tudor dragon which is rouge and gold paired with a golden lion.

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The dragon, however, is a really cool image. So the decision was made to double down on the dragons.

I worked on simplifying the golden shield around the crest, knowing that if time and paint permitted I could always add the the leaves and texture back in. Another minor detail I wanted to fix was the super tall helmet on top made especially tall with an extra fleur de lys on top.

The idea came to combine the fleur with the crown and find a simpler helmet to go on top.

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So the crown of France will have to do.

The final design for Faust:

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(Dragons further flattened for painting)

God help us — for art is long, and life so short.

Eventually I had to get working. It wasn’t long before the itch got the best of me and Brigid and I ran out to two Jo Ann Fabrics to get enough polycotton and gold trim to put this together. Brigid came for the Japanese food.

I divided the build into four phases:

Phase 1 – Combining the halves

Phase 2 – Painting

Phase 3 – Trimming

Phase 4 – Basing

Phase 2 is far and away the longest, or at least most tedious step, itself having a main coloring phase and a second detailing phase. So here we go. First I sealed off a spare bedroom in our house and put down a thick painter’s canvas. Next I laid out the red half, then marked an inch deep onto it to overlap the black half. The I laid out the black half and pinned them at the end.

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Over two days I glued the two halves together.

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It wasn’t perfect but I managed to not completely cock it up.  After gluing I wanted to stitch it just to be careful that there wouldn’t be a completely failure if it got caught in the rain.

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It wasn’t a terribly good stitching job, and it caused quite a bit of bleeding from the fact that I didn’t do a terribly good stitching job. Otherwise it was a a basic backstitch job.

Stitching took three nights (doing a little bit at a time so not to completely start to loathe the project), after which I let it sit for a few nights until I had time to get paints.

After I did get paints I got back to work pretty quick:

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Surprisingly, all of this happened without a major fuck-up, which is some sort of record for me. Hence I wasn’t surprised when:

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A gentle reminder to would-be painters, all yellow paint is neon green until proven otherwise. Luckily I was able to soak most of it up with a paper towel and then paint directly over it with zero wait. Not sure how the back looks as of writing but the back is the least of my worries.

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I lost a shade of gold, but in the end… I lost the need to constantly swap colors, so I’ll call it a win.

Just take a look at our patrons, and you’ll know
Some don’t appreciate us, others never will.

The next big step was getting some chalk and chalking out the helm, the ribbon, and eventually the dragons. I initially wanted to save the details for later, but I broke down in time and just started scatterbraining across the 8×8 canvas.

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Eventually some equipment would need to be replaced. Brushes break, cups dirty, but my poor old printer was just getting too old. Plus it was like $50 for new ink cartridges so for $100 on Amazon Prime I got a new ink with a free printer thrown in. Oldest joke in the book, but work with me here.

This one has wifi. No more wife emailing print-outs to me.

Usually one paints a tifo by first projecting the image onto a wall, hanging the fabric, tracing the image, and then painting it on. Colors are limited and even the small details are huge. Here, no luck. Projectors are expensive and the small details require getting up close and personal, often free-handing the actual lines. For the most part I use tracing, which in turn means lots of printing, cutting, and taping.

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Then once the stencil is made, it is traced out. One of the reasons I made everything as symmetrical is that I can use the stencils “twice” – once on each side.

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Plain, white blackboard chalk is surprisingly hard to find. I’ve checked at multiple places multiple times over the year and have never actually found white chalk, always just an empty hook next to the colored blackboard chalk no one wants because it stains everything.

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First coat of the red banner, right before getting scatterbrained.

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Second coat of gold on the ring, first on the helmet. Genius Kendall. Also, by this point the brush death toll started. A 1″ brush Brigid grabbed so I wouldn’t have to dedicate a single night to a single color died about halfway ’round the ring.

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So while the gold dried I decided to work on small details instead of cleaning my remaining 1″ brush twice.

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At this point I also realized that my old printer had slightly enlarged certain print outs. So my fleurs de lys were too big to fit two abreast.

So they got staggered in a weird pattern. Had I know earlier I would have aligned two to the right and one center and to the left. But fuck it. Perfection was never the goal. So I finished the third fleur and then went to wash my brushes…. and promptly killed my good 1″ brush by rinsing it under too-hot water, causing all the bristles to loosen and fall out.

For fuck’s sake, Kendall.

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All theory is gray, my friend. But forever green is the tree of life.

Bought new brushes today. Grabbed two and didn’t grab cheapos. The first order of business was going to be the crest I was hoping to finish it first so I wouldn’t be sitting on the supporters to get at it later. This would include the helmet too and then eventually the motto. The first day back to work was a red day.

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Traced out the lines.

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Looks good.

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And promptly went about adding a second coat to the banner.

With the red done, it was time to move onto the first of the arty parts of the project – the Lion in the red field. The Detroit flag uses a stylized version of the English coat of arms – three Lions. I wanted to simplify this, but also add a Detroit flair. The choice of a Lion holding a sword was a simple one.

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Worked upstairs on this one.

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Freeeeeee!

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It fits! Mostly because I specifically shrank it.

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A quick trace later.

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And the gold paint added.

And before anyone asks what’s happening to all the brush cleaner, don’t worry, I’m no litterbug.

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That’s right. Kitty litter. It’ll go into the trash, not the best but beats down the drain because I’d never do that…. ever… really.

I waited to finish the Lion’s sword, teeth, and claws until I was getting the white paint out, basically when I did the stars.

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Going with an inverse stencil to keep the spacing.

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FUCK.

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Squished that second star in. Still. Fuck. Anyway, shitty picture – but that is the nearly finished crest. Just needed some black outlining and that needed a a bit of bravery because we were getting into freehand territory.

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Practiced outlining with the dark red for the banner. It doesn’t look good up close but fuck it. Paint was not sticking well.

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This bit I could free hand, or use basic existing stencils like a ruler or a spool. However eventually I’d have to at least trace the main guidelines.

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So I cut apart the existing stencil.

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Boom! Looks good considering I’m shit at art.

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More free handing. Super, super proud of the calligraphy I was able to do. Probably wouldn’t be able to do it again. But I got it when it counted.

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The traced crest and the motto. Furchtlos und Treu for sure. But with that there were two things to go… two things I had been postponing – the highly intricate crown… and the two massive dragons.

That which issues from the heart alone,
Will bend the hearts of others to your own.

So, that crown… kinda royalist… don’t you think? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t care about things like that. But I do. It was grating on me for a while. Not only was it intricate and hard to paint, but it also symbolized something I don’t support – monarchism. If only there was some sort of hat that represented freedom and democracy… Wait! There is!

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It’s called a Phrygian cap and is a symbol of revolution. It appears in a lot of French Revolutionary scenes as well as the coat of arms of Argentina.  It’s also on the seal of the US Senate.

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That was easy. 😉

Now those fucking dragons.

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It’s pretty big.

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Finished. It was something like 13 or 14 sheets of paper all told. I don’t have the final count any more. It was a lot though, but it is for a good cause.

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Positioning. Ignore the missing phrygian cap.

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Traced.

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White details.

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Gold details.

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Starting the red.

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More red.

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Added black details and more red. Still a lot to go… plus… another fucking dragon? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

Whatever is the lot of humankind
I want to taste within my deepest self.

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Working down in the basement was hell on my fingers, decided the best thing to do was get a space heater and let that baby wash over me. I also started bringing down a tablet to listen to podcasts and things to keep my brain occupied. After this I noticed shifts went from an hour or two to six hours pretty quick.

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An nearly complete dragon.

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One down, one to go.

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Got the sleeve glued, but not stitched. In this time frame I was thinking about the colors of the dragons. I was thinking that a lot of the flag was very samey looking. After talking to Brigid, I decided to switch the second dragon up. White -> Gold, Gold -> Red, Red-> White.

This would give me some more variety and could also reflect the Polish roots of Hamtramck and have the dragons wearing the traditional kit colors of DCFC – Rouge (home) and White (away).

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I got the sleeve and a massive chunk of the white dragon (everything seen above) done in a single shift. I also named the dragons – Danny on the left, Dave on the right.

I am not omniscient, but I know a lot.

I’m headed into the final stretch at this point. Finish the white dragon and then getting trim and re-enforcement on before the 16th of April was the goal. I put zero work in over the week, but was dedicated on getting it finished on the weekend.

On Saturday we did our normal routine of Bob Evans followed by grocery shopping. Then. Work.

It had to be done in time.

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In case anyone (no one) was wondering, I used the tape roll to keep my paint cup from getting knocked over. Saved me quite a few times.

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Painting complete.

Now I had to move onto the trimming and the re-enforcements.

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It’ll never look this good again.

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Around this time I was horrified to discover that the sleeve around the pole had two pinch points and thus it was impossible to remove the pole from the sleeve. Which means I needed to cut it out.

Luckily I had some fabric lying around from uni when we tried to make bags for cornhole. I was planning on using this for the grommets, but I had plenty so it would also be used to expand the sleeve.

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First pinch at the bottom.

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Second pinch about a quarter the way up.

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Little extra room.

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I laid out patches for the grommets. This would add a few extra layers of canvas so they wouldn’t pull out easily. The plan was that the grommets would be used as a secondary re-enforcement to the sleeve on particularly windy days.

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Pretty in pink.

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If my aim was off it was because getting over the sleeve was a pain in the ass.

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I have to admit cleaning the grommet pliers was pretty awesome.

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All nice and set.

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At this point I undid the ties holding the fringe together and wasn’t happy with the corners. (Un)Luckily I had mismeasured along the top and had to run to JoAnns for more fringe, so I had a foot to play with. I cut some tiny sections out and glued them diagonally across the corners. This really filled it out well.

The last steps were cleaning. I had to get all the chalk off and all the gold lint from the fringe as well, also cat hair, human hair, and just general junk.

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And so ends my project!

Brigid suggested we give Faust some air upstairs in our great room.

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Faust stands proud.

Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way when I had questions or just needed a little encouragement. This project had a lot of twists and turns and a few complications, but in the end everything for my club.

Up The Fucking City!

 

Draft to Reality:

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Only took two months.

Kit Nerd Day?

Apparently some people had some suggestions for the home kit. While I stick by mine with the rouge/rouge combo, you can’t argue that these aren’t damn fucking sexy as well.

Like last time, I don’t own the rights to any of this nor did I get permission. I am an amateur/fan with basic access to a kit customizer so don’t think that these are real. They are intended only as possibilities of what future kits can look like. For more info/reasoning check the post from earlier today.

The Other Home Kit – Because Hoops and Because Rouge AND Gold

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So here is the Rouge AND Gold kit for the bhoys.

I certainly can’t complain. These are some damn sexy kits. Are they my first choice? That’s… uh… hard to say. There are definitely a lot of pluses to these. First, the hoops are more apparent. Second, we finally have gold in the Rouge and Gold. Third they are an older Adidas model and are therefore cheaper. Fourth – holy shit do they look good.

I have to admit those are some strong reasons to say that this kit is the better.  As I write this I think less and less of my original design and more and more of this one. So there you have it, I guess? The new Detroit City home kit for 2016.

Other views:

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So here’s the line up (with an alternate away so we don’t out-do the collar):

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The “Kit” Post – 2016

Did you know I was a kit nerd?

Really?

No?!

Come on.

Seriously.

Okay, before we get started some usual disclaimers – I’ve used images without permission (sorry DCFC and Flagstar), I haven’t edited anything other than transparencies (and in one case made the Flagstar logo white as to stand out on a rouge kit). Hope you guys don’t mind. This is done completely on my own. To potential sponsors this is in no way an official thing, this is one fan’s ideas of the best looking kits.

Also this is going to become a “thing”. Each year, perhaps far enough ahead to actually influence decisions I will post the annual Kit Nerd  (tagged “Kit Nerd” for search-ability) post, detailing my biased and subjective opinions on DCFC kits and what I personally want to see in the coming year. I will do my best to always back-up my arguments but realize that kits are subjective and since I am an admitted kit nerd/buyer that my opinions might not always be popular. I.e. – I would want to buy these kits, not just think they look good. These are the kind of kits I WANT in my closet costs be damned.

The other “thing” is that I’ve been keeping the kits up-to-date on the wikipage.

Next – some thoughts on last year’s designs with several months of hindsight.  Last year’s designs were very over done. I was having a ton of fun with the cit customizer so I went ahead and just puked color over everything with the exception of the gold alternate kits. They look, in short, pretty bad. 90s bad. Actually, not that bad – but you know what I mean. They sort of remind me of training kits, which tend to be a bit more… busy.

Third order of business – thoughts on the actual kits from the 2015 season – I liked them. We stuck with Nike and some patterns have been emerging which I am going to work with here in the three new designs. First – we seem to have colors starting to lock down. Home – rouge, Away – white, Alt – black. That’s cool. I will note that there is a serious lack of gold in any of this, but I’m actually okay with that for the most part. Rouge, white, black is a great combination and one I am more than happy to work with.

Specifics regarding the kits: the home one was my least favorite – the white stripes didn’t “do it” for me, they just broke up the nice rougeyness of it all. I’m going to focus on bringing that back. The away kit was great, loved the decision to add the collar and despite being plain, they were classy as shit. The alternates were great as well. Simple black with white shorts.


 

Brand – Adidas (pron: AH-dee-dahs, not uh-DEE-dus)

Like last year I’m going to push for Adidas, which is my favorite kit-maker and has the best kit customizer by far. Seriously Nike, how hard is it to fucking get a kit customizer to work? Don’t make enough selling $5 sweat-shop shoes for $150? Pay someone to fix it.

I know this is unlikely. DCFC has used Nike every year thus far and it sounds like Detroit is getting its own Nike store, making purchasing all the easier. But I’m going to hold my ground – get Adidas and get the girl… or trophy… I don’t know just go with Adidas.

Kit Names – YES

Again, this is me spitting into hurricane force winds but I’d like to see kit names. The owners were very kind to explain why they didn’t have kit names: Nike essentially sends a box with a variety of sizes and numbers and that’s all the team gets for their own use. Some players do seem to have their own number (e.g. Edwardson with 18, Rogers with 6) but in general these need to be fluid to dress whoever is available.

Still, I’d love to see names so names are included in my kits. I am looking forward to a time when we can do this.

Sponsor – Flagstar

Last year I didn’t add a sponsor and gave some wishy-washy reasons as to why. Not this year. This year I’m buckling down and having an opinion. In 2015 DCFC had two main sponsors: our kit sponsor (Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers) and our soul sponsor (Flagstar). Both local, both big deals, but I honestly feel only one came to the table and that was Flagstar. From day one Flagstar seemed very interested in engaging DCFC and the Northern Guard. Yes I can be a cynic and say “of course that’s what a sponsor would do” but look at Metro Chevy – they didn’t seem to do anything but hand out tickets for the soccer camps, something Flagstar can easily do as well.

I felt that Flagstar REALLY wanted to be the kit sponsor but lost out in a bidding war or something. They made handkerchief, they helped bus kids in from the city to watch games, they engaged with the NGS and fans on twitter, the company seemed to really want to be there so I’m going to give them the kit spot for my 2016 kits. Good luck Flagstar, this Ford employee wishes you all the luck in the world.

The Home Kit – Rouge ’til I Die

 

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The hoops WILL return, dammit. They will. It will happen and I will be super stoked.

Working off the issues I had with my designs last year, I’ve simplified the color scheme on this (and all) the kits. I’ve limited myself to two main colors on all the kits, with a third for accents – burgundy and red dominate with white for the Flagstar logo and numbering to stand out.

When I design these I both think about what will look good and if we were to move up what would not be stealing or competing with another team. For example, red and gold is out because A) DCFC hasn’t been emphasizing the gold aspect much and B) I don’t really want to compete with the Strikers and other Red/Gold primary teams.

Yes, most combinations have been taken. Black/Red is Atlanta and though those look great, I’m going to try to avoid it all and stick to Rouge. So everything is some variation of our beloved color except for the Flagstar logo, giving it great visibility while keeping the kit simple and clean.

I’ve definitely been obsessing over the details here, tweaking everything over and over, just to see little variations – mostly with the highlites, and using white for the Adidas logos and such. Perhaps I’ll post failed versions later, but there is little to look at.

Of course, here are some more views.

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The Away Kit – The Collar Means Business

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The brilliant white + collar returns. Again, trying to keep it nice and clear. I’m not a huge fan of plain white kits, but for some reason add the collar and suddenly it works! Add a DCFC logo and a a little bit of rouge and it is just WOW.

Last year I talked about a running element – something that would exist in all three kits – and that was the rouge/gold socks. Obviously here you can see that was abandoned. Socks are tailored to match the kit and here it is two colors – white and rouge.

As I said above, white seems to dominate our second kits, so instead of fighting that let’s embrace it. I’ve started to think of DCFC’s colors mostly as rouge and gold in name only, our logo shows one thing but the field shows another. While I don’t advocate changing the logo at all, I do think gold doesn’t work as well and can be harder to add to the kits. Do we use old gold or a darker yellow? Most companies are pretty limited here usually offering old gold, yellow, and something that belongs on a construction site – as compared to red where you usually have three real options or more (Red, maroon, burgundy, bright red &c).

In 2015 I believe the white kits used black numbering, I went with rouge here. I guess that is my theme this year – two colors a kit.

The other views:

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The Alternative Kit – The Stealth Kit

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I teased this on twitter before starting to write this as this was the first kit that really came together quickly.

Third kits are a chance to have fun, really do something different. Some teams do it well, some teams don’t. While I’ve always enjoyed the DCFC third kits I’ve had two main issues in the last two years. First, let’s wear them a bit more. Playoff games, friendlies are all good times to use the third. I get that we auction off the thirds during the selected charity match but… ugh… I want to see them more! Secondly, we’ve always used the white shorts with them, probably as a cost saver.

So with my design I’ve made two big departures from DCFC’s usual methods. First – instead of pairing black with white, I’ve paired it with rouge. I assume their use of white means they can grab shirts from the bargain bin at the Nike outlet by my house, but this is my blog so we get my kits. Second – the shorts are black too. Deal with it.

I’ve been calling this the “Stealth Kit”. It looks mean. It looks like a team that doesn’t fuck around. If this kit was released I’d probably end up divorced and the only thing I’d ask for is the fifty or sixty of these I bought stay with me.

Black has slowly been working its way into the DCFC phenotype. It is one of the main colors of the Northern Guard and so it is not surprising just as DCFC shapes us, we also shape DCFC. This sharing is epitomized right here in rouge and black.

The other views:

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So there it is! Kit post 2016, hopefully early enough to turn some heads and maybe even affect some decisions.

Any and all comments and criticisms are welcome; twitter, reddit, or even here are all great places to hit me up with your own ideas. Here’s to a short off-season!

Bitching and Moaning

Okay let’s do some bitching and moaning because it is about time. Everything below is my uneducated and rambly opinion. You are free to disagree, but some of these are problems that are not new to this season.

Refs in the NPSL

Refs in the NPSL are usually somewhere between complete shit and utter shit. There are exceptions, Donovan, the ref from the May 29th game against Twin Stars is generally a good, fair ref and a decent person. Who ever was on the field today was a fucking idiot. His calls were so bad Lansing was calling him out!

The two biggest were the ignored penalty we should have gotten for a literal tackle against WMB and Lansing’s third goal which was wildly offside. That would have evened the score to 2-2 which was about what we had earned. Lansing got two legit goals, DCFC got its one.

But things like strikers getting shoved to the ground and then being called the ones to have committed the foul is 90% of the shit calls from NPSL refs.

They fucking suck and honestly it is the #1 reason I want out of the NPSL.

Lansing United

When you score – go celebrate with your fans you fucking pricks. Don’t come taunt us. Don’t taunt us for two reasons – first, your fans paid to be there and support you; recognize that and go celebrate with them for fuck’s sake. Second, NGS does what it can to make sure we stay under control, but it only takes one asshole to make the poor life choice to stick a bottle in your eye socket. For the love of Thor’s salty balls, don’t taunt opposing fans. That’s just a universal truth.

That single Sons of Ransom Cunt

Stay on your fucking side of the goddamned bleachers you thick-skulled moron. What the fuck were you thinking?

Detroit City Football Club

I’m pulling out the full name here because like my mum starting a sentence with “Nicholas” I need a chill to run down your spines. This is season four. Honeymoon is over. We, I, love Detroit City to death but the era of you can do no wrong is over. Time to take this shit seriously. I know you do, but it is time for all of us to take this shit seriously and that means getting feed back in more ways than smoke and cheers.

Offense – For the most part the offense looks good, but I personally feel that we hold onto the ball too long. We lose it a lot in the last third and it can be a pain. I feel like a lot of student players are still in the collegiate and academic sports mindset of “beautiful” soccer. That they have to pass and be team players. Every now and then just shoot it. Shoooot it. If you want we can get Sarge shouting it into a megaphone again.

Middle – For fuck’s sake can we please string together more than two passes in the middle without losing it? Seriously. I feel like fully 40% to 60% of our passes in the middle land at the feet of a player not wearing our colors. Along these lines, stop with the long pass forward. Even Brigid was getting irritated by this and she doesn’t understand soccer or even really care about sports. It seems like every single pass in the air has about 25% too much power. They go over our guy’s head and into the feet of an opponent. This has been our weakness time and time again. We are constantly losing it in the midfield and we are constantly losing it to long passes.

Wings – Alex the Great is getting a new/second nickname (as per Moz’s suggestion): 7-11 because that kid is always open and he’s a fucking beast (not sure what that has to do with 7-11 but work with me here) I feel like we always have one winger completely open and the defense and mid never seem to notice. Eyes up from the grass and lets position ourselves. Get the balls wide. Not every field is as narrow as Cass and we might not even be at Cass for much longer.

Defense – Communicate. If NGS is too loud, learn sign language. Deaf people been getting along just fine. But the constant miscommunication in the back is hurting and it is hurting hard.  On top of that I counted no less than four times in the first half of the Lansing game that the Lansing #10 was not only unmarked out on the wing, but onside. That’s fucking unacceptable. We’re lucky he was shit and was only good at shooting balls 30′ over the goal. Eyes up. Eyes FUCKING UP.

Goal – I’ll keep this short and it is going to hurt. There is a reason why we call Bret Mollon the brick wall and no one else.

 

Anyway, let’s end on a happy note – aye? This has been depressing. Here are my three standouts for the game.

Dave FUCKING Edwardson with a goddamned rocket from out of the box for his first ever Detroit City goal! Holy fuck. I can watch that all day.

That honestly made the whole day worth it. But as always, our beloved Geordie put up a good fight disrupting Lansing plays and taking control of the ball for the good guys.

Alex Isaevski is a mother fucking beast. That kid runs for days. He’s a winger. He’s a defender. He’s a fucking striker. There’s nothing Alex the Great can’t do. Fucking MotM, Fucking MotYear right there. Watching him is always, always a pleasure.

The WMB, the one and only Flash once again made his presence known, out dribbling hordes of defenders. He’s skills are honed to a razor’s edge. Let’s get some people up there to help him, there’s only one Messi guys.

Only in Defeat

Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?
That is the only time a man can be brave.

-Game of Thrones

How can you be supporters when your team loses?
It’s only when our team loses that we can truly be supporters.

Losing hurts.

Always has, always will. If defeat doesn’t sting then did you really lose? If losing what you were fighting for doesn’t hurt did you really care? Do you really need it? Why did you fight at all?

Detroit City fell to the Bucks three to nil. Three. to. nil.

Saying it hurts.

It hurts to lose.

You might be able to tell from the pictures in the papers, but what I am saying is true. Detroit City lost to the Bucks. But what of it? We lost. Fuck the Bucks, we have a game to think about on Friday. We move on. When the team came over we embraced them (often literally). We chanted and waved flags. There was a party in Detroit and no one slept that night.

But it hurts. We bury that pain deep down, we look to better days, we move on. But it throbs at the base of our necks and until the next victory there will be nothing to cure it.

However, even in defeat there is victory.

The real battle is in the stands. Every article on the event can be summed up like this:

Dan Duggan’s Michigan Bucks beat Detroit City FC 3 – 0. They played nice soccer. But you can’t tell from our gallery of images because the Northern Guard show up, made themselves at home, and then chanted like madmen for 90 minutes plus stoppage. They were so awesome that even Bucks fans left DCFC fans. Kids loved them, parents wanted to be with them, and in the end that’s all that mattered. Because DCFC lost the battle but is winning the war.

Give or take 500 words.

We won because the battle wasn’t just on the field. It was off it as well. It was in front offices, in the stands, and in the minds of those there. When the Bucks show up with no sponsors and we have Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers; when Ultimate is decked out in Sam’s Hardware and Nobody Bank and we have Henry Ford Health System and Flagstar Bank. We have an official beer, an official bank, outreach programs, charities, and presence. The Buck’s have… well… they have a lot of silverware.

And let’s be honest – the Buck’s have a long, storied history… that no one cares about. What’s a history if no one reads it? Nothing. It is a book collecting dust on a shelf. Twenty years of obscurity and the best you can do is go on about how you never really meant for it to be a fan experience?

Yeah. Whatever.

Detroit City FC can walk out head held up high. We lost. So what? It hurts, but we’ll move on. We’ll remember this if we meet again. And in the end, the battle on the pitch was a small slice of a bigger battle. A battle of culture.

So fuck it.

Fuck you Daniel Duggan. Fuck you and your shitty fucking team and your shitty fucking pricing plan. Yeah. Don’t act like we wouldn’t fucking notice you dropped the price of tickets once DCFC wasn’t involved you two-faced price-swapping twat.

Go fuck yourself.

Fuckyouzard

A Cup, A City, and a Deer

May 13th is going to be a strange day, it’ll be strange because for ninety minutes the world will revolve around three things: a cup, a city, and a deer.

Sure the lingering issues of the modern world will continue to linger long after the echos die down and two radically different clubs go their separate ways – but for ninety minutes there will be a microcosm in a little tin can in the northern suburbs of Detroit when le Rouge take on the Bucks in the first round of the Lamar Hunt United States Open Cup, the oldest national soccer competition in the United States and the third oldest in the world.

So let us begin our meandering tale there: what the fuck is the US Open Cup?

The fact that you don’t know what the oldest soccer competition in the United States is doesn’t surprise me in the least. Which is sad. The Open Cup is a knock-out tournament that involves all levels of soccer in the United States starting with semi-professional and adult leagues and working its way, slowly, to the MLS. At first it only involves the low-tier teams, fighting and weeding each other out. Each round another group of teams is added. First USL, then NASL, then finally the big guns walk in, the MLS teams join and then, almost inevitably, come to dominate the competition.

That’s okay, because it is a test. There are prizes for the teams that can stand the test, go the furthest in the face of million dollar players from England. Stand up and just maybe, earn a small piece of soccer history.

The US Open Cup is a special thing, though today it is dragged through the dirt and sand and treated like an unkempt dog. Left to wallow in a corner on the edge of the farmer’s property, eclipsed by his new pure-breed.

See, most other countries don’t have championships like us where half the teams “qualify” and go into a knock-out stage. They have “cups” and most countries have a handful. The season is just a season of normal games. When it ends whoever is on top wins. Cool, no problem – that rewards consistency rather than one lucky goal.

But we like luck, and we like those crazy moments when a rag-tag group of amateurs best a behemoth. That’s what cups are for. Off the top of my head in England the two main-ish trophies are the FA Trophy and the FA Cup. The FA Cup is like the Open Cup – it is for everyone. The FA Trophy, however, ignores the upper tiers in favor of putting the smaller teams against each other. (Thanks to FC Fargo Green Army on twitter for the correction.)

Everyone has a shot.

Yes, it is “unfair” to put a team like Detroit City potentially up against teams like the Seattle Sounders – but that’s the fun. It’s fun to get that chance. It’s fun to see how far your team can go. We’re not expecting Detroit City to win the Open Cup, we want to see how far we can go and what we can prove about soccer, fandom, and Detroit along the way.

That is the magic of the Open Cup – and the USSF squanders it in favor of the MLS Championship. Let’s not beat around the bush, these days it is pretty clear that the line between the USSF and the MLS is very, very blurry. The USSF is supposed to be a neutral party that governs soccer in the United States, including the MLS. But in recent months it seems more likely that the MLS is probably calling more than its fair share of shots – but this is a rant for another day.

The walk away should be that the Open Cup is a knock-out tournie with a ton of history and you should do everything in your power to catch as many games as you can. If you consider yourself a fan of a team or a fan of the sport in general – this is a serious part of our heritage and it deserves fucking better than announcements coming three hours late and from teams rather than the organization.

If I could I’d plea to the USSF to not continue to waste the Open Cup’s potential in favor of a single-league’s stupid knock-out championship. They are very different scenarios and both can co-exist.

Please, stop fucking up the Open Cup.

So that’s the cup. Who are the city and the deer?

Detroit City Football Club (pulling out full names here) and the Michigan Bucks are a strange pair. They’ve never played a game against each other and yet the air between them is already hot, filled with anger and hate – and yes a little jealousy from a certain Dan Duggan.

The Bucks are Dan Duggan’s baby – a PDL side with a long history of crowning achievements brought low by their crushing insignificance. In 2000 the Bucks became the first PDL side to defeat an MLS side – beating the New England Revolution. A feat that they repeated by defeating the Chicago Fire in 2012 only to fall to the Dayton Dutch Lions the next round. How, if that is the case, has no one heard of the Bucks before?

Well, that goes into the gaping maw that divides Detroit City from its older cousin.

The Bucks are an “old-fashioned” team based in nearly ancient 90s mentalities of Disney’d logos and “family friendly” soccer experiences. A stifled, oppressive, and timid atmosphere is all you get in the Buck’s indoor tin can of a field. Fans queue in the tens to buy nachos and sit quietly with their families to watch talented players attempt to impress scouts and then move on, leaving little to no mark on the club or its history.

They are, in short, a prestigious toy for its owner – Dan Duggan, brother to Detroit mayor Mike Duggan. Like a 60-something fawning over a model railway set in the basement, Duggan fawns over his little team and his “control” of the soccering experience in Detroit, something he monopolized from 1995 to 2012, when Detroit City and the Northern Guard finally pushed his team completely out of the minds of Detroiters.

Detroit City came onto the scene like a brick through a window, quickly gathering the latent soccer fans across Southeast Michigan and beyond. We flocked to a team decked in the blood and treasure, enjoyed every sulfurous second of that season, with out banners in the wind and our souls riding high.

Then 2013 came around and we did it again – bigger and better.

Then 2014 came and we grew some more. We got loud, we got noticed. And Duggan’s Buck’s continued to play beautifully but unwatched.

Now comes 2015. Detroit City was a dark house contender for the Open Cup, only slipping in at the last second because another team turned down their spot. From the second it was announced one word fluttered on the lips of anxious Guardsmen everywhere: Bucks.

Fuck the Bucks.

Buck the Fucks.

A smoldering hate that goes from the fans right up to the front offices began to glow and smoke under the gentle blow of a cold spring wind.

Both sides wanted it.

And we got it.

On April 8th, after hours of quiet, the Bucks announced they’d be hosting Detroit City FC in the first round of the Lamar Hunt United States Open Cup.

So here it is.

The club Michigan forgot v The club Michigan can never forget

Old School v New School

No Focus v Culture Focus

Theory v Practice

The rich man’s toy v The working man’s club

Who will prevail?

Fucking Bertha

(Photo – Dion De Gennaro)

Plus Ultra – A Day in the Life of and a Defense of the Ultra in America

We woke up early today.

Around seven.

After some bitching and moaning and wistful looks at the clock hoping we had been lied to, we dragged ourselves out of bed. First me, then Brigid but only after I had sicced the cat on her.

I fed the cat, we dug out blankets and flags and kilts and extra layers to stay warm in the 30-ish degree weather on a cloudy Detroit morning. We filled the car, piled in, got out to grab a forgotten phone, then headed to the gas station. Brigid grabbed donuts, I grabbed cash from an ATM then stopped to fill up the car.

Then, around 8:00, we hit 96 East into Detroit – following a path we both knew well past Motor City Casino and Cass Tech into Corktown, which proudly calls itself the “Oldest Neighborhood in Detroit.”

It was about a quarter ’til 9:00 when we finally pulled into the parking lot behind the local IBEW headquarters. It would be a little longer before the coffee and liquor would start flowing. Until then we had donuts and Mama Cass’ homemade breakfast puffs (16,000 calories guaranteed) to tide us over.

It would be many hours before any real reason to be there made itself known as we drunkenly and hoarsely made our way to the parade line.

None of this should come off as particularly exciting, nor is it meant to. The life of an Ultra is the life of many: a terrible job, good friends, one thing on the weekend that keeps you going. The poker player might think about cards, the musician about the next track, the gamer about the next level, the Ultra thinks about the next game. The next stick of smoke. The next tifo or the next two-stick.

What drags a man out of a warm bed at seven in the morning on a cold, cloudy Sunday in Detroit, Michigan?

Friends? Aye.

Family? Aye.

Booze? Aye.

Sports? Aye.

A chance to let loose? Aye.

What about all of those? What if friends, family, booze, sports, and a chance to tap into that primal part of your brain all came in one shot?

That’s why an Ultra gets up.

That’s why an Ultra paints tifos.

That’s why an Ultra gets tattoos, and buys banners, and stands for ninety minutes, and screams and sings until all wind has left their body.

Then they go home and dream sulfury dreams of when they get to do it all over again. It never ends, the cycle of working on the next game and living the previous. Before they know it the season is over and it is all pining for the next time they can get into the stands and do it all over again.

Before we go much further, I’m going to cover my tracks and say “yes, this article will inevitably offend some people.” My last Fans v Supporters v Ultras page constantly either gets rave reviews or people trying to piss on it because they are a special flower that doesn’t… blah blah blah.

Got it.

We’re all human. Definitions don’t fit people well because we can constantly redefine what makes us who we are. So take this all with a grain of salt. Think of this as representing that 70 to 80% of people who are encapsulated by a definition and therefore is painted with broad strokes.

In the end, don’t get offended because this is a blag written by a nobody. Or, actually, get offended. Give me more traffic.

I’ve always thought that the motto of the Ultra should be Plus Ultra, Latin for “further beyond.” That’s what an Ultra is – more and beyond. Whatever is “normal” for a fan should be too little for an Ultra. And I’m not knocking average supporters or fans. Trust me, the crazier they get the better. But an Ultra should be further beyond. They should be further beyond paper signs and crayons. They should be further beyond “the wave”. They should be further beyond shouting “de-fense clap clap de-fense clap clap“.

But the word “Ultras” comes with baggage. And it comes with detractors, especially here in the United States. It is important for the budding Ultra to know when to stand their ground and when to understand the fears and apprehensions of the average supporter. When the Ultra is willing to stand their ground, but make their message known, the state of supporter culture in the United States will improve. When the average fan understands that their Ultras are there for them, there for the team, there to make a great game something that goes into the history books.

But too often I feel supporters and Ultras are at odds and it is important to make sure everyone on a side marches to the same drum, even if some people march a little slower.

First, and this is a big one for us Ultras. Being an Ultra carries baggage in the United States. Baggage of hooliganism, baggage of discrimination, racism, and other isms that we might have anything to do with. There are going to be Ultras that we disagree with. Whether we disagree on which team we root for (the minimum, I guess), whether it is okay to light flares off in the stadium, or as far as the bigger issues like if it is okay that blacks and whites support together or if beating up opposing fans is okay.

When we try to shove the dirty, unwelcome, truth to the side we don’t seem above it, we seem blind to it. It is important to tackle those issues head on. Make bold statements. Don’t just say “well, we wrote some rules down and it is up to the different groups to enforce that.”

No.

No, that is not okay.

If you have Ultras pushing people out of a subway train for their race, kick them out. If you have Ultras molesting women, kick them out. If you have Ultras starting fights, kick them out. Make it known that on no terms is violence, homophobia, racism, or sexism acceptable. Stamp it out.

Ultras can make a political point, but the best political points to be made are those of acceptance of our players and our fellow fans.

But when someone says “Well, I saw some Ultras in Randopia and they were being racists” the right answer isn’t some mumbling and then a “no true Scotsman” bullshit. The right answer is, “Yeah –  that happens, and they are cunts. But here in America we can be above that. Our Ultras work hard to remove and find ways to deal with the problem safely and quickly.”

And the key word is “can” it is also “should.” In America we don’t have 150 years of history in our teams, which can be a bit humiliating. But it also means that racism and divisive politics are not okay. We can’t sit and hide behind “well, we’ve been racist for 150 years so give us a break” (as if that is any fucking excuse). We have a chance to elevate the throne of Ultra further beyond bullshit petty politics into a powerful force for bettering our communities and everyone’s enjoyment of sports.

But I also want to respond to some criticisms and concerns that I’ve heard from self-proclaimed “non-Ultras”.


I have a disability or issue that prevents me from doing X, Y, or Z and ergo cannot be an Ultra.

This is bullshit, if you care so much that you are digging up legitimate excuses to why you cannot Ultra, you are probably an Ultra. I think of it this way: Ultras are there for their fellow Ultras. Ultras know their own like family. Family understands and doesn’t need or even ask for excuses for why you miss activities or perhaps don’t partake in others.

You’re a devout Christian? You don’t drink? A fellow Ultra knows that. They don’t care.

You’re recovering from surgery and can’t dance? A fellow Ultra knows that. They don’t care.

You have a disease that forces you out of the stands to a place where getting in and out is more convenient? Your family doesn’t care. The only people who care aren’t worth being called your family.


I sat in the Ultras’ section and was bothered a lot because I didn’t dance/sing/complained about smoke.

This is a two-way misunderstanding and both sides have very legitimate reasons to complain. So I’m going to try to tackle the obviously side (the non-Ultra) quickly and then move into the Ultra’s perspective of the issue.

Smoke/dancing/singing are not normal in the United States. It is not surprising when someone gets tickets at the last minute and ends up in the Ultra section without understanding what that means. It is up to front offices and ticket vendors to make sure that customers are aware of what is involved in getting a ticket to the supporters’ section.

Supporters’ sections might be standing-only and might be cheaper on a seat map, that can be attractive to someone just looking for a quick thing to do. If someone doesn’t want to sing or dance, leave them alone.

BUT. Big but (-s and I cannot lie) here. Ultras are in the right for being pissed. Remember there is one section in the entire stadium where we can sing and dance and light off smoke for 90 minutes a game. One section. That’s it. Pull out a flag in the main stands, say good-bye to three nights of hard work. Light off a smoke bomb in the nose bleeds? Say hello to a domestic terrorism charge.

We get that one little area and when we see people sitting on their phones no singing and dancing we don’t see a stick in the mud (even though you are one) we see one Ultra over in the family friendly section NOT having a good time.

You can sit quietly anywhere, we can only party in this one section. Please be understanding when we want you to make the most out of it.


The flags, smoke, and singing detract from the game. You should be there to watch the game.

Okay? We do watch the game. When we do specific chants for corners, cards, tackles, players, and scores that isn’t because of a really good streak of random chance. We know to do those things because we watch the game.

Obviously you aren’t because you’re watching us having way more fun than you.

This is going to become even more subjective than the rest of this already is – but we don’t think what we do detracts from the game. We think sitting around politely clapping detracts from the game. Ultras work with front offices as much as we can to come to mutually beneficial agreements on where we can set up shop, what is and isn’t acceptable, and for the most part it works out really well.

Notice on any major team’s website the shots of the crowd rarely are of the people sitting down talking about the weekend with their spouse while their kids are mildly entertained by the game.

Ultras provide a lot of atmosphere to the crowd and we are very much helped by the legions of supporters who do everything they can to help disseminate this out into the other parts of the stadium. The smoke and the noise contributes to the home field advantage. It gives our team a boost and the other team a weight to carry. Any player will tell you that they love coming onto a field with Ultras – people singing their heart and soul out for ninety minutes. It gives them someone to work for, someone to impress, and in return Ultras give them love and respect. We put them on two-sticks, sing chants about them, and are the first to defend them when the refs won’t.


I don’t like that Ultras are “ultra” and I’m “just” a fan. Why am I expected to contribute?

You aren’t expected to contribute, but you need to understand that that’s why an Ultra is “ultra” and you’re just a fan. We are all on the same side, we all want to see our team win, and we both probably want to see it just as badly. But an Ultra goes further beyond. For us it isn’t enough to just show up, we want to make sure our support is heard and felt throughout the stadium.

It is okay that you don’t want to participate to that level and I’m sure the front office appreciates you coming in.

But this idea that your presence is equal to our weeks of hard work and planning is bullshit. And we’ll tell you it’s bullshit. What made you think this wasn’t the case? Since when was just showing up to the test the same as acing it?


I don’t like being defined by other people.

Okay, this is another perfectly acceptable reaction. Not everyone enjoys every label that is applied to them, especially when they aren’t choosing to have that labeled applied to them.

Please trust me when I say I understand and that I can commiserate with you on this.

But it is important that people are labeling you every second of everyday. Humans like to do that, it is just sort of an innate part of who and what we are as social, tribal animals.

I’m not labeling you as an Ultra out of anything other than togetherness. I define myself as an Ultra so please don’t be offended if I define you as an Ultra. If I don’t define you as an Ultra and you want to be defined as an Ultra, that’s okay too. I’m not a sole expert on Ultra-ness.


Some other group uses “Ultras” in their name and we…

Shut up. Just. Shut up.

Who fucking cares? Really? An I suppose if there was a rival group called “The Fans of Windy City” you’d be shitting all over yourself to not be called a fan?

Words mean things and we are all free to use them. If a group uses a word that has is relevant to what they are talking about, then they get to use it. But so can you. Because words are not a limited resource. (Looks at current word count – trust me, I know).


Obviously there is  much to the life of an Ultra, just as there is much to the life of anyone willing to take themselves further beyond what any sane or normal person would do.

I cannot cover every fractal fold of what makes any two groups or even individuals similar and dissimilar. I have neither the time nor the patience to do it.

So I hope this has been an interesting and enlightening read for you, as there will be plenty more soccer to come in the future. But there is where I’ll end for today.

Sláinte, bitches.

Detroit City and a little Writer’s Postpartum Depression

This is probably going to be a bit more rambly than most posts on this site, but let’s go ahead and deal with it anyway. I have a few topics and I don’t think I can really make them stand-alone posts.

First – I’ve begun writing Book 2, which has already gone through a few working titles, but given that this is a total re-do we shall see what happens. Having previously written some 45,000-ish words in the previous version I already have a good sense of direction with this one. Hopefully I am not stuck too deep in the rails and I can move away from what I’ve got. Already two chapters have been condensed into what is now the prologue and the original prologue is actually the last chapter of Sun-King!

So yeah, that is off to a decent start but I had to say I’ve hit something I didn’t really expect – it really sucks to not be working on Sun-King anymore. Like really weird. Same characters, same settings, same general direction and it just feels like I am in some strange foreign land. If I had to guess I would assume I am suffering from the shock of having total control again. When editing and rewriting chunks of Sun-King I obviously had laid rail before and was generally following the plan if only soothing some corners out.

Now I have total control again and that is really “weird” to me. Maybe I just need a few days away from writing. Maybe I just need a few days back at the helm of creating rather than editing. Either way it was not something I expected and it has made today rather lethargic (among other things, not going there).

So that is where the postpartum comes into play. I really don’t like not working on it. Where is my baby? What is this blank sheet of a paper that I need to fill with brand new words? Fuck all this shit. Fuck it, I want to work on Sun-King some more.

But I can’t.

Or at least I shouldn’t. I need to move on. That is part of writing. Still. I miss it and I know in the back of my head another round of editing is still on the horizon.

O well. Moving on.

Soccer!

But Nick, the superbow-

Shut it.

Oh, so you’re watching the superb ow-

Shut it.

We’re talking soccer, because I care about soccer. I like gridrion. I care about soccer. It means stuff to me. Newcastle won. Celtic won. Kendal lost. And DCFC is moving forward.

Rumor has it that we are very close to running out of season ticket slots. It essentially implies we are on track to sell out every. single. game this summer. That is FUCKING AWESOME. If you disagree go fuck yourself. Little Detroit City, for whom I’ve had a place in my heart since day one.

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My friend Zak and I made those for our first game back in Season 1. I still have both and I just recently was talking with another fan and he mentioned a season 1 flag that was red with golden fleur de lis all over it. It was weird, strangely enough after the last few seasons, that this stood out. I’m really glad it did. It is a beautiful flag, it is too bad it isn’t mine (it is Zak’s even if I store it).

There is a lot going on. I can feel it. Then a few weeks the big news broke.

Check it out (25:30 in the cast).

The FO has been looking at moving up! This is great. I’m so glad to hear that and though I’m doing my damnedest to not get excited it is hard not to. Hard not to see it all paying off. Hard to not love what DCFC and the NGS have been able to put together from scratch. And from what I’ve heard Peter Wilt of the Indy Eleven is not a man who speaks lightly or rumormongers.

So fuck yes!

With tickets and the NASL in our sights, that leads to some speculation. Honestly my prediction is you won’t see DCFC on the field in the NASL until 2018 or 2020. We need a new stadium. We need major sponsors. We need major names. We need a lot of stuff, including potentially new owners who have the cash. That means a lot of growing pains and a lot of issues that might follow. The NGS might look good on paper but when so many FOs would rather have Sally DoGood and her three cum-sprites in the stands paying $10 for a hotdog with mustard each and Richy DoGood paying $12 for a can of Miller Lite; the NGS (and I’m going to quote Hot Time in Old Town):

THE NORTHERN GUARD IS WHERE FAMILY-FRIENDLY ENTERTAINMENT WENT SLUMMING AND GOT STOMPED BIKER-STYLE INTO INTENSIVE CARE

When one of your loudest mottos is “We’re ruining football and we don’t care” you aren’t a great target for rich, white suburbanites. Or at least that is what people thought until we sold out twice and nearly sold the entire allotment of season tickets three months before kick off.

The Northern Guard has a duty to stand between squatters and the club and ensure that despite ruining football, we don’t ruin DCFC as well. I don’t think that is really at risk. I can’t say with a straight face that DCFC is “less” because of the NGS. Less family friendly? Yes. Less TV friendly? Yes. But less? Less as a whole? Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

Tomorrow the season schedule should be out. There are some major mix-ups apparently. Then, Wednesday, we go to see Victory and grill the ownership at the Q&A. That will be mind-opening to say the least. Finally, Friday night, Midnight Madness as the NGS invades the try-outs.

This is a great week to be a DCFC fan.

Oíche mhaith, bitches.