Anyone who’s been to a Detroit City FC match can testify that the club’s passionate group of supporters, the Northern Guard, have about as salty a chanting vocabulary as any in soccer. There’s even a bit of proof if you head to their bold Twitter feed.
One year after donating proceeds from their “swear jar” — this is a real thing — to U.S. veterans in their “Hooligans for Heroes” efforts, the DCFC supporters are again putting their sharp tongues to good use. This time, the profanity proceeds will go to the family of slain Michigan referee John Bieniewicz.
And that’s not all: the Detroit City fans raised money in multiple other fashions in addition to honoring Bieniewicz’s memory with a memorable, silent red card gesture during a DCFC match. Their $6000 helps a growing donation fund run by the “Friends of John Bieniewicz” which now stands at over $167,000.
“We collected at our pre-match bar Harry’s Detroit and at the stadium before-during-after the match. A visual show of support was also discussed for the match we would be collecting money at.
“It was decided that we would hand out red cards with John’s information printed on the back and at the 44th minute we would hold up the red cards in silence until the end of the half.
“We in the Northern Guard are well known for our loud rambunctious non-stop support of our club and it was very odd that the entire stadium fell stone silent at the 44th minute mark.
The entire stadium stood in solidarity after cards were passed around, not only in the supporters’ section but in the family populated areas of the stadium.
Somewhere, the spirit of the thing is greeting Bieniewicz with a smile.
I can personally attest to the ardor of the Detroit City fans, especially the Northern Guard. Having operated a club in the same conference of the National Premier Soccer League, and having competed for the Rust Belt Derby trophy with DCFC, the Northern Guard’s dedication to their club is inferior to precious few. Their fans regularly make long trips to support their club, and even waited out a thunder delay in Buffalo before returning for the midweek makeup match later this season.
When the soccer community comes together in moments like these, it’s a powerful statement: What happens in the field should be a fun game, but what happens off the pitch can provide something much bigger.