May 26-27, 2017 International Friendly with Glentoran FC.
In 1967, William Clay Ford owned the Detroit Cougars, one of twelve teams in the United Soccer Association. Each of the franchises imported a team to represent them. Glentoran FC from Belfast represented the Detroit Cougars.
This summer marked the 50th anniversary of the marriage of Glentoran FC and the City of Detroit. In the past, no team existed in Detroit for Glentoran FC to connect with. That has changed.
The Cougars played a twelve-match season in the summer of ’67, finishing fourth in the Eastern Division with three wins, six draws, and three losses. The boys from Belfast were housed in a Howard Johnson’s on Grand Boulevard, across the street from the Motown Museum.
On June 14, 1967, in a match against against the Houston Stars (who imported Bangu Atletico Clube from Brazil) a riot ensued. With seventeen minutes remaining in the match, Cougars/Glens Tommy Jackson was laid out by a kick to the kidney by Stars/Bangu’s Luiz Alberto. Glens’ players took exception to the attack, a melee ensued, which escalated into a riot as both teams’ benches cleared and engaged in the brawl. It forced the game to end at that point, with Detroit down, 2-0. Jackson and Billy Sinclair, were the two players who made this fiftieth anniversary trip back to Detroit.
On Friday, May 26th, two events took place with the Glens. At 1:00 in the afternoon, the team held an open practice at Keyworth Stadium.
The atmosphere was friendly. A few of our supporters joined a few of their supporters on the pitch to kick a ball around. A few of us gathered around Billy Sinclair and chatted with him about his brief two-month stay in Detroit.
While shooting the video in the southwest corner of the stadium, I had the section pretty much to myself, until I noticed that I had disturbed a squirrel who was foraging through the benches. Noticing me, it darted up the stairs and scaled the wall, then leapt into a tree on the other side. I say this not due to my other amusement – the Peanut Ledge Cafe – but to foreshadow his return.
At 7:00 PM, a reception for supporters and both teams was held at Amnesia in the Motor City Casino. This was another great time spent building the ‘friendly’ atmosphere. A table of paraphernalia from the 1967 Detroit Cougars/Glentoran FC season, and a black-and-white video played on a large screen showing film from 1967 of the team.
May 28, 2017
May 27, 2017
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI
Detroit City FC 1, Glentoran FC 0
DCFC Tyler Moorman 86′
There was a breakfast at 10AM at 3rd Man Records, which I didn’t attend. I arrived at Fowling Warehouse earlier than usual, and mingled.
The match featured the defense, with few chances for both teams.
At one point during the first half, a resident took to the field, wondering what all the commotion was about. Apparently, my little friend from yesterday enjoyed what he saw, and found a nice seat outside the penalty area. But like yesterday, as the play came down field, and humans drew closer, he vacated the stadium, through a fence in the southwest corner.
With the next match, I began keeping a couple peanuts in my pocket…just in case. Never saw him again, though.
It was nil-nil at the half.
The paced picked up in the second half. In the 80th minute, Tyler Moorman was brought down in the box. Jeff Adkins lined up the penalty, but the Glens keeper, Dwayne Nelson, made a brilliant save to keep things knotted.
Finally, in the 86th minute, Tyler Moorman found the back of the net.
Memorable games tend to be those where the victory is meaningful – like a championship final or victory against a powerful rival (or an amazing comeback from a goal down and a man down, on the road). But this is our second international friendly. Both of them provided us the opportunity to meet supporters and players from the team who traveled across the pond to play us. Both of them ended memorable not for the result on the pitch, but for the goodwill between the teams and supporters, which carried over onto the field when the final whistle blew. An experience no MLS match could replicate. I say that from experience. The Arsensal – New York Red Bulls friendly I attended in 2014 at Red Bull Arena doesn’t compare to the experience this evening and last year.
This weekend, we embraced Detroit soccer history, its roots from Belfast. Perhaps some of the Irish luck would rub off and change our fortunes in the eleven remaining matches of the season.