When Hell Was Real, But Felt Like Heaven


Some reflections from DI member and Bailey drummer Bob Brumberg following an Open Cup victory over Columbus Crew SC. Photographs by Jason Paugh.

I’m not sure I still believe it happened. I mean, I know it happened because I was there. But something about it didn’t feel real. The next day came with that special buzz, and I had to pinch myself a few times before it sank in.

It was real. It happened. We beat Columbus.

A supporters' march spanning multiple city blocks eventually translated into a crowd of 30,000+

A supporters' march spanning multiple city blocks eventually translated into a crowd of 30,000+

With probably the best atmosphere FCC has seen at Nippert, Cincinnati toppled not just any MLS side, but one that this fan base has wanted a crack at since day 1.

And this was not a reserve Crew side. By all measures Columbus ran out a top starting 11, featuring the likes of Federico Higuain, Will Trapp, and Justin Meram. Gregg Berhalter seemed to want the win just as much as Alan Koch, but this night belonged to Cincinnati.

Unlike many people I know, I did not grow up a Columbus Crew fan. I’ve never seen a match at MAPFRE. I was relatively new to soccer in 1996, having just discovered my enjoyment for the sport during the ‘94 World Cup. I never really caught on to MLS... even to this day. And I really don’t know why. I eventually began following the Chicago Fire because A) I love Chicago and grew up a Cubs fan due to family living there and B) for a number of years I worked as a firefighter. But even that was casual support. So this match did not carry the emotional baggage as it did for a number of FCC fans.

I’m fairly certain people sitting at the Mason Applebees enjoying loaded potato skins and phony ambiance could feel the ground shake when Djiby’s header went into the top corner. For the next 25 minutes (plus like 17 minutes of stoppage time...good grief), I tried to contain my anxiety. Every sports fan has felt it...waiting for the other shoe to drop. Every Crew possession seemed to last forever. I held my breath with every shot. Towards the end, the noise level around Nippert rose gradually.

They knew what was coming. 30,000 people reacting with every tackle, foul, and shot. Around 80’, our Thunder Clap echoed around Nippert. When the 4th official raised up 6 minutes, 29,000 people disagreed while the other 1,000 in yellow and black held tight to the whatever hope was left.

A large faction of Columbus Crew fans made the trip down.

A large faction of Columbus Crew fans made the trip down.

I didn’t think that final whistle would ever come. I pessimistically waited for the dagger, the equalizer that never came. Higuain’s shot over the bar at 90’+5’ seemed to happen in slow motion. After another eternity, it was over. I don’t like tossing around terms like ‘biggest win in franchise history’ but it's hard to argue against it.

Mitch got worked all night and kept a clean sheet. Tyler Polak played the match of his life. Alan Koch outsmarted Gregg Berhalter. Jeff Berding bought the beers.

‘Emotional’ is an understatement when describing the win. There is a picture out there somewhere of me clutching my drumsticks, eyes closed, and an ear-to-ear smile. I could have floated home (or to Skyline). The magic of the Cup.

Something else occurred to me Wednesday night as I watched the magic unfold. To this point, I’ve been pretty indifferent to joining MLS. I’ll support this club regardless. For me, higher tickets prices and tighter restrictions on supporters aren’t exactly a selling point. But watching Wednesday it hit me: we could be playing these clubs every week. David Villa, Kaka, Schweinsteiger all at Nippert. And that’s not to mention whoever FCC brings in. Who knows what names would wear the Orange and Blue? Plus the chance to show off this city at a whole other level!

So now you’ve got me. I am officially excited for the prospect of MLS. Let’s have that bid Don. Tell Newport to get the shovels ready (trigger warning...that’s an entirely different blog post).

Oh yeah, Charlotte and Charleston. Two draws bookending a historic win. Charlotte felt like a loss, Charleston felt like a win. Both were only worth a point. But I am beginning to see this club gain traction. I am by no means a tactical mind, but the formation rolled out for Columbus and Charleston seemed to work pretty well. Maybe we’re starting to see a turning point. And not a moment too soon.

Regardless, it will be hard to forget that feeling on Wednesday night. Despite waking up sore from head to toe, exhausted from the heat, a little sick from too much Skyline, and mildly hungover, we beat Columbus.

Hell is Real, but Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 felt like Heaven.

Words by Bob Brumberg, a DI member and Bailey drummer. 

Photographs by DI member Jason Paugh, except for the first photo. That one was by Ronny, Steve, or Alan (but definitely not Geoff).

Supporting a Fantastic Local Organization


Back in March, before the preseason friendly at Xavier, we and our friends in The Pride engaged in a wager at Listermann Brewing Company.

Each SG sponsored a special variety of Listermann's Shamrock Shake. First SG to finish/sell the contents of their mini keg would get all the proceeds donated to a charity of their choice. DI members cleaned house and this past Saturday we were proud to present our winnings to the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati along with an additional $100 on behalf of our group.

Thanks to DSAGC for all the great work they do in our community, thanks to Listermann's for their help and support, thanks to The Pride for drinking with us. We'd especially like to thank our wonderful members for knowing how to drink beer!

Off and Running + A Valuable Lesson About Value Haircut Sponsors

Photo credit: Linsinnati

Photo credit: Linsinnati

Word's by DI member and Bailey drummer Bob Brumberg (brought to you by SuperCuts)

And we're off.

Hot damn it felt good to be back at Nippert. I'm not sure FC Cincinnati's home opener could have gone any better (tifo deployment aside (loved the enthusiasm, but let's wait till AFTER the national anthem next time)). On the heels of Djiby's 4-goal performance, the Orange and Blue cut St. Louis in half and thrilled the 23,000+ at Nippert. It may have been the best atmosphere I've experienced in the Bailey. In addition to Djiby's record night, FCC began a 3-game homestand against a trio of the top teams in the USL by giving St. Louis their first loss of the season. Tip of the cap to the traveling St. Louligans for making the journey and keeping their voice until the end.

So that brings us to Louisville week. The Kentuckyiana Chevy Dealers GE Appliances Louisville CIty Football Club presented by Humana travel up I-71 to face the Toyota Knifey Soccer Lion Kings of Cincinnati. Ronny will be along shortly to give you his Toyota Camry Keys to the Game. More on Loisville in a minute.

Before the thousands of.....i mean couple hundred of...let's just be realistic here...

Before the couple dozen Purple Army of Halloween characters invade Nippert Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lemon-Limes that play in St. Petersburg come to town in another Eastern Conference showdown. Sadly, this mid-week matchup won’t get the attention it deserves because of the pending Dirty River Derby and the fact it’s mid-week. But Wednesday's tilt has fairly big implications on the table (and $2 beers). FCC can move into a tie for 3rd with a win and set up a battle for 1st on Saturday. New to the USL this season, TampaSt.PeteBay brings former Chelsea star Joe Cole with them along with a 3-1-0 record. Suffering their first loss at the hands of LouCity's dominant pitching and base-running, the Rowdies will certainly look to rebound Wednesday. Let's bring the same atmosphere to the Bailey that we saw Saturday.

But I really came here to write about our friends down the river. This last week has been pretty eventful for LCFC's main supporter's group The Coopers. Because on Thursday, this happened: 


Wow. Jackpot. Some jokes write themselves.

This might even make us forget they play on a baseball field (eh, probably not).

 Here are the bullet points as I understand them (Coopers released a statement here):

·         Coopers started a march to the match, similar to what our SGs do

·         Corporate marketing stooges see march, get idea, pitch to club FO

·         Club FO approaches Coopers with idea, possible video paid by shoddy haircut place

·         Coopers lay ground rules (no branding the march, etc)

·         Video released with 'Discount Haircut Place March to the Match' branding

·         Meltdown

I could feel the Cincy faithful licking their lips at this gift that was dropped into our lap. But let's take a step back shall we?

I think we can all agree that Supporters’ Groups play a substantial role in the matchday experience. And one of the reasons is the independent nature of SGs. It’s safe to say we have a good relationship with FCC's front office, and from the very beginning they have been open with communication and willing to work with the SGs. The Coopers can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe they would have shared similar feelings about their own FO up until Thursday.

We have to remember that the FO is in the business to make money.  But there is a line. Sure, they use videos of us in their commercials and pictures of us on their website (so does the league). All those flags, scarves, and smoke make for a compelling sales pitch right? By and large we're cool with that because we are allowed to bring in drums, raise up tifos, and set off smoke. However, the relationship is certainly a delicate one. Generally speaking, SGs maintain a healthy skepticism of FOs and their motivations.

Photo credit: Linsinnati

Photo credit: Linsinnati

Look, I get it. Sponsors are important. Clubs aren't charities. That's why Toyota is across the front of our shirt and Republic Bank is on LCFC's sleeve. Without these partnerships there wouldn't be an FC Cincinnati or Louisville City FC. They pay the bills. That seemed to be the excuse given to the Coopers for the egregious branding of an organic supporters' initiative. Even worse, based on the Coopers' president's statement, the club suggested they need to lie down and accept it (my words). Like I said, there is a line. And LCFC leapt over it with a running start. They took something that was created, organized, and executed by passionate fans and sold it off without permission. I'd be pissed too. Not everything is for sale.

And don't you think for a second that it couldn't happen here. Again, we have a very good relationship with the FO. Carl, Jeff, et al are incredibly nice people...and incredibly smart businessmen. They have made no secret of their intentions to get to MLS. MLS costs money. Sponsors = money. And sponsors love to be seen. SGs are very visible in the matchday experience. See where I'm going with this?

I thought about this a lot on Saturday as I looked up at the Bailey. I thought about everything Die Innenstadt has done, what every SG has done, to create the atmosphere at Nippert. It’s you that make the match. Your marching, chanting, yelling, cheering, tifo painting, flag waiving, etc. And for a club to take that energy and auction it off, to me, seems unconscionable.

Now, I'm confident FCC would never attempt to brand our march or rename the Bailey as the "PNC Power Zone" (if they do that, I want a cut), but the point is that it could. Because Louisville did, and I'm willing to bet before last week the Coopers would have thought the same thing. To be fair, it appears the FO has reached out to the Coopers with a view to make things right. But the damage has been done.

So yes, we’re going to give them s**t for it, particularly because of all the 'plastic' talk directed our way last season. There will be chants, social media banter, maybe a 2-pole or sign. But truthfully, I do feel for them. The club did them dirty. They sold something they had no rights to. Sure we're rivals, but we're all supporters. We love our cities, and we love our clubs. Come Saturday we'll loudly express our dislike for the team that plays on a baseball field (didn’t forget after all), taunt the 30 or so traveling fans, and then invite them back to Mecklenburg's for a liter. I suggest you join us.

Juncta Juvant


Don't forget to order your DI t-shirts for the "blackout" match. 

The shirt borrows a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem from which Cincinnati received her nickname, the "Queen City." They're $15 apiece and can be ordered here. Please note that no shipping is available. We'll have them available for pickup at Mecklenburg Gardens before the match starting at 2 PM. We will not be bringing them to the stadium with us. Shirts can also be purchased day of, but we strongly recommend you pre-order.

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Bob Brumberg is a DI member and Bailey drummer. Follow him on Twitter.

Want to write something for the DI blog? Talk to Ronny.

It's Gonna Be One Hell of a Week...

The club started on the road due to Nippert renovations, but the boys are finally returning for the home opener and have a busy schedule featuring three matches in one week. 

Say what you will about the season so far, and critique the play all you wish, but there's no denying that road trip to Pittsburgh (and win) was awesome. Rhinehaus has been a wonderful host of many great watch parties, and we've still got mugs for sale there that help support a local soccer charity. For now though, it's time to focus on some home matches and if you're like us, you're pretty excited for this coming week of events.

So here's what's going on:

April 15: Home Opener Against St. Louis

It's time to kick this season off properly and we're going to start early on Saturday, April 15th. We'll be in the beautiful biergarten of Mecklenburg Gardens starting at noon. Come drink several liters before our traditional march through uptown to the stadium. 

St. Louis is coming to town on the heels of their MLS bid getting some bad news from the local voters, but on the pitch they look solid. As of this writing, they've drawn against Loisville while having secured wins over NY2 and Ottawa. Back in the USL's Eastern Conference this season, this is FCC's first of three meetings against STL. 

Facebook event.

April 19: Tampa Bay Rowdies



Don't be fooled by Tampa Bay's silly sock mascot (yes, it's a sock), the Rowdies are possibly the hottest team in the USL right now. Defectors of the NASL, Tampa Bay is new to our league this season and has started things off with three straight wins and a squad that looks very strong. They'll play against Loisville, which should be an interesting match, before making a stop in Cincinnati. It's a mid-week match and we'll be at Mecklenburg starting around 4 PM on April 19th. 

Facebook event.

April 22: Loisville City and the "Blackout"

Image credit: the always talented Queen City War Pigs

Image credit: the always talented Queen City War Pigs

To round out three matches in one week, our friends in Loisville are coming to town again. I'm sure they'll bring the "thousands" of fans they purported to bring last time (it's hard to properly count when looking through the mask of your super hero costume). The club has designated this game as a "blackout" to coincide with the wearing of the third kit. To commemorate the occasion, we've got a special DI t-shirt lined up:

The shirt borrows a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem from which Cincinnati received her nickname, the "Queen City." They're $15 apiece and can be ordered here. Please note that no shipping is available. We'll have them available for pickup at Mecklenburg Gardens before the match starting at 2 PM. We will not be bringing them to the stadium with us. Shirts can also be purchased day of, but we strongly recommend you pre-order.

Facebook event

We're looking forward to seeing everyone back at Mecklenburg Gardens again, for the march to the stadium, and to be back in The Bailey. We'll see everyone there starting this Saturday. 

Juncta Juvant!