The River City Red Army
I first became a serious soccer fan in the spring of 2009. Almost immediately afterward, I moved to Richmond and fell in love with the local USL team (think Double A or Triple A of American soccer), the Richmond Kickers. Over the course of their 21-year existence, the Kickers have taken five league titles and they won the US Open Cup in 1995. I watched them win their fifth championship my first September in Richmond. Despite my own personal elation, the meaning of the victory did not seem to translate to the rest of the crowd. No cheers in the stands for hours, no dancing in the streets: they simply smiled and went home. It felt a little deflating.
Hopefully, that fan culture will soon receive the shot in the arm it so desperately needs. Tonight, I attended a meeting of the River City Red Army, the official supporters group of the Richmond Kickers. We met at Gus’ Bar and Grill on Broad Street to discuss how we might improve the atmosphere at City Stadium. The Kickers sent representatives (interns, but still) to show that we have their full support. Earlier this year, the club began selling beer at games for the first time in an attempt to draw the twenty-something crowd that makes up the lifeblood of the new, emerging Richmond. Now they want the help of the diehard Kickers fans to create an attractive stadium spirit.
The Kickers have given us the keys to the kingdom. They have given section O entirely to the River City Red Army. They also promised to give the Red Army free tickets to all of the remaining home games including the first home playoff game and the others that will hopefully follow. They have printed up shirts with that beautiful logo you see at the top of the post – a combination of the Kickers Crest and the city flag of Richmond. The Kickers representative also seemed “99% sure” that the Red Army could establish a tailgating presence before the match in a designated area as soon as this Saturday.
In return, we the Richmond Kickers fans must show our support and do our duty to inspire the rest of the crowd. We must cheer for our boys and maybe even heckle the refs and the opponents a little. We must create, learn, and recite chants and songs that can filter through the whole crowd. We must inspire the Kickers to greater heights, so that the product on the field and the morale in the stands draw as much excitement and attention as any bouncy castle, food truck, or special promotion.
The first place Kickers return to Richmond this Saturday, August 10th. They face the Dayton Dutch Lions in City Stadium at 7 PM. The Red Army wants You!