Fan groups bring smoke and singing to MLS soccer scene
A word of warning to the wine-and-cheese crowd: drum-banging, flag-waving, chanting and probably beer-drinking diehards will set the scene at Charlotte FC games. Want to get in on the rowdy fun?
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Breaking down the five biggest Charlotte FC supporters’ groups
Mint City Collective super fan Chico Sanchez drumming up spirit. (Photo courtesy of Charlotte FC.)
Soccer takes the concept of a fan club to an entirely new level. Just wait until you see supporters’ groups in action when the Charlotte FC starts its inaugural season Feb. 26 in Washington against DC United. Supporters’ groups — taking their cue from soccer fan groups all around the world — will chant, cheer, sing, wave flags, set off smoke, and yes, probably drink their way through the game, making a soccer game livelier than you’ve ever imagined it.
Charlotte fans can see for themselves at the home opener March 5 at Bank of America Stadium. FC’s new supporters’ groups will march to the beat of their own drummers from their collective tailgate spot off Morehead Street into the stadium and pack into the lower level seats behind the east goal. They’ll stand, chant and cheer throughout.
Just in case you’re wondering how they already know what to chant and sing, Charlotte FC supporters’ groups first met at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in early February to start working on chants. They’re meeting again Feb. 24 to practice their march route and chants.
So how can you become a part of the excitement? Here we break down each of the five biggest Charlotte FC supporters’ groups: Mint City Collective, Southbound & Crown, Blue Mafia, Uptown Ultras and Carolina Hooliganz. Founding members of each club give insights into who they are and how they came to be. Details vary, but joining typically costs around $25-30 for an individual and around $50 for a family membership.
Mint City Collective is the biggest, with its own podcast, chat site and beer. (Lenny Boy Brewing Co. is launching a beer in Mint City’s honor March 4.) But the “SGs” come in all sizes, with a little something for everybody.
Mint City Collective
(Photo courtesy of Mint City Collective.)
Membership: 1,000+ with 19 chapters throughout the Carolinas. Liberty (Ladies) Chapter, Ballantyne, Belmont, Kernersville/Triad, Lake Norman, Matthews, NoDa, West End, Top of the Lake, Coastal, SouthPark, South End, Concord, Denver CO, Salisbury, Boone, Asheville, East Charlotte, Rock Hill, Triangle.
Your story: We formed in 2019 with members from different backgrounds and experiences of soccer after hearing rumors that Charlotte might be placing a bid for a MLS team. We have a wide variety of fans from all backgrounds.
What sets you apart? Creating engaging and great soccer communities while impacting our local neighborhood. We have tailgating events, MCC specific events, community service work (adopt a street programs, breast cancer donation drives, pride donations) MCC specific newsletters and articles, podcasts (Mint City Soccer Show, The Collective Voice), MCC Rec Soccer Team, exclusive ticket exchange for members and exclusive Slack access for engagement and conversations.
How can fans spot you? We will be wearing mint shirts, scarves, hats and gear that will make us stick out! We have chants specific to MCC and are posted on our website.
Game day routines: We will tailgate with the rest of the supporters’ groups in the tailgate lot. We do have local “Chapter” bars that will also have their own watch parties and gatherings for home and away games. We plan to travel to away games — DC and Atlanta are the first two away travel days we have planned and executed for our members.
Excited about this season: We are excited to see the team hit the field, singing and chanting with our fellow members and fans, and continue to impact our local communities in 2022.
Southbound & Crown
(Photo courtesy of Southbound & Crown.)
Membership: 125. We have seven chapters, five in S.C. (Greenville, Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Columbia, Charleston) and two in N.C. (Charlotte, Asheville)
Who are you: We started as “the” South Carolina supporters group. However, we have grown to welcome friends and family throughout the Carolinas. Mix of everything is the easiest answer. All are welcome.
Your story: SB&C began as a group of three Tottenham Hotspur fans meeting in Rock Hill, as part of the fan group, the South Carolina Spurs. Our name is Southbound & Crown, a play on the name of the HBO show Eastbound & Down. The Southbound represents southbound on I-77 (South Carolina) and the crown represents the Queen City. Our creation, history and mission are all tied to the “Because of Brenton Fund,” created in memory of Brenton McCaskill, one of our founding members who tragically lost his life protecting his girlfriend and three children during a home invasion. We created and continue to fundraise for the Because of Brenton fund, which strives to make sports affordable to all children in York County. We’ve raised almost $10,000 so far. For more info: https://www.southboundcrown.com/bm32
Game day plans: Our home game plans include tailgating, marching, cheering and singing in the supporter section and throughout the stadium. For away games, we will have viewings at each of our locations for members and the public not able to travel.
Gathering places to watch games:
Greenville: Tetrad Brewing
Rock Hill: Rock Hill Brewing
Fort Mill: Towne Tavern
Columbia: Publick House
Asheville: Olde London Road Pub
How can fans spot you: Our own Chris Church leads percussion on our SB&C bass drum. We have been a huge participant in the chants, with Chris holding recording sessions and mastering the recordings. You can also find us by our scarves and SB&C merch. Anything palmetto or Kenny Powers related!
Excited about this season: We are most excited about watching the team grow and develop while building friendships. We are encouraged by the growth of the soccer culture in our communities and can’t wait to watch it evolve.
Blue Furia stirring it up during the preseason for Charlotte FC. (Photo courtesy of Blue Furia.)
Membership: 200-plus. We have members from multiple cities across North and South Carolina. Currently the only official chapter is based in Charlotte
Your story: Blue Furia started with a group of friends based in Charlotte who love everything about fútbol and how much it has grown in the U.S. these past few years. The founding members of Blue Furia all have Latin American backgrounds and have been supporters of other teams prior to moving to CLT many years ago. The founding members wanted to bring that Latin American passion and party atmosphere they experienced while growing up in different countries and bring that to Charlotte FC. The hope is that this passion is contagious throughout the stands and that it reaches the players, so that ultimately our work has a direct and positive correlation to the performance of the team. Blue Furia strongly believes all supporters play a big role in the outcomes of many games.
Who are you? Blue Furia consists of all backgrounds, ages and genders. Our base started with people from Latin American backgrounds, but this has grown to include people from other regions as well. Blue Furia is a family-oriented group. We want to create a positive atmosphere for everyone and want to teach our children the passion that we hold for the sport.
What sets you apart? We are a supporter group that brings high energy everywhere we go. We are known for having lots of chants, and also the ones that chant the longest and loudest. Check out our chants recordings on our website bluefuria.com.
How can fans spot you? We will sport our black shirts with our Blue Furia circle logo in the middle, and we hope to have a banner with our name readily visible for everyone.
Game day routines: For all home games, we will tailgate at the official Charlotte FC supporters tailgate lot at 703 McNinch St. (near the intersection with Morehead Street). For away games, we will host watch parties at La Unica, 900 North Carolina Music Factory Blvd.
(Photo courtesy of Uptown Ultras.)
Contact: Lucas Barnhardt, e-mail: email@example.com
Membership: 70. We are one group but have factions in Winston-Salem and Lenoir.
Your story: Co-founders Lucas Barnhardt and Sean Gartley started it organically in the summer of 2021 after realizing how many friends we had with season tickets in the supporters’ section.
Who are you: We started as a group of young guys, some of us born in Charlotte and some of us settled here for work or family. We are accepting and welcoming of all different ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds and ways of life.
What sets you apart? We are also a social club and love to have a good time. We also want to emphasize how important making a positive impact in the community is to us. We will have several charity events throughout the year, starting Saturday with our 0k charity event to raise money for Charlotte Rescue Mission at Seoul Food Meat Co.
How can fans spot you: Look for those Uptown Ultras flags flying high!
Game day routines: Uptown Ultras will have watch parties for away matches as well as spots to watch home matches if you are not attending. We will be working with other supporters’ groups on away travel and experiences!
Excited about this season: We are excited to be a part of history, to support a new team in the city many of us grew up in and infest the city with the passion of the sport we love.
(Photo courtesy of Carolina Hooliganz.)
Contact: Patrick Aquino, Carolinahooliganz@gmail.com
Membership: 45-50 members, based in Lexington but with members in Salisbury, Charlotte and South Carolina.
Who are you? Our ages currently range between 19-31. A lot of the younger members are single, but we are family-oriented, and a few of our older members have children. The majority of members are from a Hispanic background, but we have African-American and Caucasian members as well who we have grown up with in Lexington and wanted to join our group or found us through social media.
Your story: We first envisioned the idea of a making a supporter group after attending a NYCFC game against the Red Bulls we were invited to by one of our family members. Watching how their supporter groups marched and chanted on the way to Yankee Stadium was absolutely mind-blowing. We had attended many soccer games before, but this one was different. The atmosphere was incredible. This was back in August 2019, a few months before we knew Charlotte would get a team. We told ourselves how cool it would be if the Carolinas ever got an MLS team one day, so we could do something like this back home!
What sets you apart: Most of our founding members are related, we consider anyone that joins us like a family member. We are open to having new members no matter from what part of the Carolinas, even if we’re just meeting on game days.
Your mantra: ¡VAMOS CON TODO! (“LET’S GO WITH EVERYTHING!”) Our group is about having a good time and bringing a great atmosphere to the games.
Game day plans: Whether it’s eating burgers, tacos or a seafood boil, we’ll be eating good and having a few beers. We’ll have games and good music to get us hyped up before the match! Our major travel games will be DC and Atlanta, and we will plan more as the season unfolds. Also, our local brewery called “Bull City Ciderworks—Lex” will let us host away and home games.
Other Supporters Groups
Other supporter groups include, Accessi-Blues, Forty Thieves, Mint St. Mafia, QC Royals and The Queen’s Firm. For information on supporters’ groups, including how to create your own, visit the Charlotte FC website.
Final preseason game: The Charlotte FC closes out its preseason with its final game of the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C. on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against Inter Miami.
How to watch: The match will be streamed live at www.CharlotteFootballClub.com/live with the second call by new broadcast team Eric Krakauer and Lloyd Sam.
No goals, but bench-clearing shoving match: The FC is 0-1-1 in the tournament so far, beginning with a lackluster 1-0 loss to the Charleston Battery of the USL followed by a feisty 0-0 tie against the Columbus Crew of the MLS. We say feisty because of a benches-clearing shoving match after a foul against forward Yordy Reyna seemed to fire up the Charlotte FC:
In case you missed it: Who are these guys?
You can find previous issues of The Charlotte Ledger’s Fútbol Friday newsletter online. Last week’s issue was a crash course on the players, coaches and other Charlotte FC personalities you need to know.
Carroll Walton is a longtime baseball writer with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution now cutting her teeth on soccer and the Charlotte FC just as fans in Charlotte do. She would love to hear from you. E-mail her with questions, suggestions, story ideas and comments!
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