09 May 2007

Heed Army to All, Yes Indeed


About two weeks ago I got an email from a guy named David. He had stumbled upon the site, and wanted to trade links between the Heed Army blog and The DCenters. In full confession, I had never heard of Gateshead, or Gateshead FC, but I went over, took a look, and figured why the hell not. I'm always a little careful, since I don't want to link to any fan site whose supporters fall into the racist, bigoted, violent types, but the Heed Army, despite the somewhat right-wing assigning of ranks and militaristic nature, seemed harmless enough. Not only that, I was taking a perverse joy in finding not only a European based team, but an English soccer team, that even Kansas City would outdraw on most nights. Take that Euro-posers!

I am now ashamed of that last sentiment. As a soccer fan, even in DC, we take a lot of crap from people at times. Not from true sports fans, but just on a daily basis of "Yeah, I'd rather watch American Football," by well meaning people who can patronize through the rare talent of being able to pronounce capital letters. What must it be like to be a fanatico for a low-level team when you are surrounded by elite clubs everywhere around you? I mean, as I've learned, Gateshead is only a few miles away from Newcastle's grounds. Do fans of EPL teams regard these fans as minor amusements, the same way a Yankees fan would regard a fan of the Savannah Sand Gnats? How odd it must be to devote yourself to a team that seems so far from the top within your own country... within your own county even? How odd... and how inspiring.

Suddenly, I realized that I admired these fans. They are devoted to their team, and passionate and hardcore as any. They demand excellence from their manager, and their ownership. They, too, are waiting for a new stadium (a new 5,000 seat one should open for the 07-08 Season).

I've often written that saying of any team "here are the best fans in US Soccer" is silly, since the best fans, the honest fanaticos, are everywhere in MLS and the USL. I also happen to believe that DC United has more of them than most, and are better organized than most, but I'm not going to say that our most passionate fans are better fans than LA's, or RSL's, or even New York's. Add the Heed Army to that list of fans, the elite passionate supporters whose devotion must be regarded with awe and, perhaps, a bit of fear.

Once I realized this, I knew that, at some point in my life, I want to see this team play at their new stadium. I'm not heading to Europe anytime soon, but when I do, I want to make a pilgrimage to Gateshead and greet the Heed Army. I want to see the Angel of the North (above right) that is shown in their emblem. I'd like to see Steve Salvin and Davie Southern (left) humiliate Matlock. And perhaps grab a drink at the Newcastle Quayside. And I want to thank the Heed Army for reminding me, once again, what it is I love about being a true passionate supporter of a team. Heed Army to all, and good luck. I see that Wigan Athletic once passed through this conference, and I imagine some year soon you'll cross paths with Leeds.

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At 09 May, 2007 10:15, Blogger Kinney said...

Nice post. It must be hard supporting a team so close to such massive clubs. It is nice to see the Heed's Army supporting the local team come what may.

Especially after all the crap we get for supporting top flight US teams because they aren't as good as Champions league group stage teams that people watch on ESPN.

At 09 May, 2007 11:08, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"despite the somewhat right-wing assigning of ranks and militaristic nature"

Seriously? Get a grip

At 09 May, 2007 11:15, Blogger The gadster said...

Thank you for you great post about Gateshead Fc and the Heed Army.

p.s. the ranks is just a joke, its just all the friends who sit togther for sing on match day, nothing more :-)

cheers again!!!

At 09 May, 2007 11:23, Blogger D said...

Anon: Look, you're probably right. I try to keep my politics and my football separate for the most part, and the last thing I want to do is tacitly approve of some Italian-style Ultras group that embraces an overtly left or right wing philosophy and much of the ugliness that the fringes bring. As you say, I'm probably overreacting.

Gadster: I figured as much, and just want to be careful. Probably overly so. Once recognized as a joke, it looks like a good bit of fun.

At 09 May, 2007 12:40, Blogger Kinney said...

Well here in the States we have Sam's Army. And the Screaming Eagles are now split into "brigades". Just saying.

At 09 May, 2007 12:45, Blogger D said...

Yeah, look, it was a (small) case of oversensitivity on my part. I admit it. And, yes, I feel silly about it. So there you go.

Look, to be honest, I'll even sing "we're all part of Tommy's army" but part of me quibbles with it, the sense that somehow the individual is subsumed by the whole. I know, I know, silly and stupid on my part. But there you go. And, to be honest, I usually get over myself.

At 09 May, 2007 13:59, Blogger Sean said...

Next on D-Centers:

Why the song "La Barra Brava" is demeaning to soccer supporters with disabilities.

(Sorry, d. It's good you're sensitive! I think we need to do more critical theory soccer deconstruction).


At 09 May, 2007 14:02, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I imagine the eagles decided to organize into brigades so that the new leader can keep tabs on the career decisions of the members. Did anyone else catch his "I'm an attorney and we're all professionals who like to party" interview during the game on Sunday? Nice...

At 09 May, 2007 16:38, Blogger The Smid said...

I am a member of the Heed Army as well as the more famous Toon Army,proud to support the two main football clubs on Tyneside,we'll hold you to that night out on Newcastle Quayside,show you what a 'real night out' is.
HeedArmy To All!!

At 09 May, 2007 16:49, Anonymous haveyouseenlucky said...

This post was very nice and sweet until you went and took a parting shot at Leeds. Kicking a team that's down is bad, but this is literally "beating a dead horse" territory. Like an already rotted horse corpse, that has been eaten by flies and stuff. Yeah, more like beating a horse skeleton.

Anyhow, I always thought that people who were hardcore enough to support the small clubs got nothing but respect. I certainly respect 'em.

At 10 May, 2007 08:45, Blogger D said...

Smid: Someday, I look forward to it.

Lucky: Sorry. There are a few teams I just can't ever, ever support. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Dallas Cowboys, Arsenal, and Leeds pretty much top that list for me.

At 10 May, 2007 08:58, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed reading your post about Gateshead FC and there supporters. We have had a fantastic season and some great players have emerged especially our leading league goal scorer Davey Southern. It would be nice to keep a link between to the two clubs.

At 23 May, 2007 05:00, Blogger geordie said...

Gateshead is a town on the banks of the river tyne about a mile from Newcastle city centre. Home of Newcastle United fc.The famous Toon Army (toon being A slang word for town. Its the way us geordies speak) Gateshead currently play at the International stadium, home of british athletics, but we now have a chairman with money who has promised to build us a new stadium. During the 1960s we got crowds of between 15000- 20000 but now we are only in the 100s most people going to watch Newcastle united who play in the english premier league, while we play in the unibond northern premier league. Our chairman is trying his best to get us a team that can get back into the football league. It would be great if DC united came on a tour of england and arranged a game with Gateshead fc. Im sure we would fill our stadium which would be great for us financially.We get extra support at home games when Newcastle are playing away when the famous Toon Ultras give us their support. We always watch Dc when we can although its only on t.v. and always look out for their results. have a good season from THE HEED ARMY (Gateshead Fc) England


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