May 10, 2014
Detroit City FC 1, Cincinnati Saints 0
DCFC Zach Myers (Colin McAtee) 37′
Attendance – 2,147
Home opener. I was looking forward to this match. Not only because it was the home opener, but because Le Rouge hosted a new team in the division, the Cincinnati Saints.
I have this personal rivalry thing with Cincinnati. When I see the Northern Guard Supporters’ FUCK OHIO scarf, I’m conflicted because I don’t mind Columbus, where, prior to Detroit City FC, I would attend a Columbus Crew match once or twice a year. But I do think of Cincinnati. That festering boil on the banks of the Ohio River, with its Marge Schotts and Bill Cunninghams, its love for Reds and Bengals and ignorance of hockey. Okay. It may not be all that bad. I actually considered seeking employment down there twenty-five years ago. I’m certainly glad I didn’t find it and stayed in Detroit.
My sister, Marie and her husband, Rob Bruce moved down there in the early 1990’s, and have raised their family just across the border in Kentucky. Back in 1994 a new Detroit hockey franchise entered the International Hockey League: The Detroit Vipers. The season prior to that, the Cincinnati Cyclones, who had spent two years in the East Coast Hockey League (think Slap Shot), moved up to the IHL level.
Finally, a meaningful rivalry.
During the 1996-97 season, I began photographing and writing for a Michigan-based hockey publication, which put me in the box between the benches at The Palace of Auburn Hills, capturing images of my new favorite team. And those were good days for this sibling’s team. From 1994-1999, the Vipers had a regular season record of 25-8-5 against the Cyclones, and met them once in the playoffs, eliminating the Cyclones four games to two in the 1998 quarter-finals.
Then, in 1999, Bill Davidson purchased the Tampa Bay Lightning, transforming the Vipers into the minor league affiliate of the cellar-dwelling NHL team. Two years later, the IHL folded and with it the Vipers. Those final two seasons coincided with my first two-years of law school, taking me away from the stadium, though my heart still beat aqua-and-eggplant. Those were the only seasons of joy for the Cyclones. The Vipers managed a single win and two shoot-out losses in 17 games.
Thirteen years later…my sister and her family have a soccer team. Time to resurrect the sibling rivalry!
We (my wife and I as my sister’s family was a no-show) arrived downtown early for lunch. I parked near the stadium, and as we were walking to Harry’s, we bumped into Sergeant Scary as he was leading a small band of Northern Guard Supporters back towards Cass. He stopped me and said, “Sir, we’re unfurling the largest tifo we’ve made in the parents’ section…” then provided details of when and where to catch it’s appearance. I made sure I was in the best position to capture it both in still and in motion. Though Sir? I was a bit surprised until my wife reminded me that I am older than they are, receiving my AARP card after the team’s first season. Sigh. The mind’s age is always younger than the body’s, I suppose.
Harry’s was crowded so we ate downstairs. We marched, we cheered, and of course, we won. Another bit of bragging rights in the sibling rivalry.
Wished my sister and her family had come up for the match to get a feel for the Northern Guard Supporters experience. But alas, like all the Saints’ fans, they stayed home for this one.