(Part 3: The March and The March)
There was a chill in the air; what you would expect for a late November night. Just one day prior, I met about 12 individual supporters in a humble and quiet location as we put together an impressive display of fan support. It seemed larger than life; almost too large for this time and location. However, I knew there was something I was missing; I had been anxiously awaiting that moment when I felt it and it made sense. As we poured out of Catas and into the streets, I began to see it all around me.
I had heard many things about this march, and everyone around me was excited to show me how they march into the stadium on game day. It started right outside Catas and immediately crossed the street. An active street. There are no police stopping traffic. Together, the three supporters groups stop traffic. The chants are being yelled at the top of our lungs. The flares are lit.
It was pitch black by the time it began, but the numerous flares lit the area in bright orange and red. The march stops on the bridge that crosses the Passaic River. The bridge is covered in the members of the South Ward. The chants get louder, and more flares are lit. A new song is started. It starts slow. It picks up speed, and we begin moshing.
I somehow ended up near the middle of it, and when people noticed this they tried to help me out. I really appreciated it at the time, but at a certain point, the entire bridge was a mosh and I just decided to embrace it. One thing was clear, they were making themselves heard as they went into that stadium.
I no longer noticed the chill in the air, and was ready to go as we headed inside the stadium and to the South Ward – a location that just yesterday felt quiet and modest as we readied the tifo. A location that had since been transformed by the passion and intensity of the fans. The Viking Army family was in their home base, and they were making it known.
The chants and songs were all lead by some epic capos – only to be topped by their epic outfits. I do believe by the end of the night that there was less clothing. I would love to know if that is something they do every game (no, for real, let me know. I think it is pretty awesome). If you aren’t ready to stand and sing the whole game, you may want to steer clear of any supporters section. However, if you are up for cheering like crazy for your team, the Viking Army – along with all the capos and the ESC and GSU – do a fantastic job creating one hell of an in game environment.
As terribly cliche as it may sound to say that New York is a melting pot, it is true. And, the Viking Army – along with the South Ward – is a wonderful reflection of that; members from various countries and locations nearby, from different background and interests. There is room for everyone here. I originally thought it was about me being welcomed as a member of the family. That wasn’t it at all. From the moment I picked up my paint brush and began working on the tifo, they had welcomed me into their family. What I quickly learned was that this was about how strong this family is and realizing what they are capable of. #REDtogether
Special thank to Scuzzy for being an amazing host. This would not have been possible without you. Thank you to all the members of Viking Army (and all members of New York Red Bulls’ supporters) who greeted me with open arms.
Did you love this?! If so, be sure to check back for Season 1 of Out of the Park! Coming this spring!