Game recaps are great, offering statistical insight to those who couldn’t catch the match or detailed accounts as to what went on including all of the intricacies. But not many capture what it’s like to be in the Sons Of Ben, chanting in the River End during gameday. SoB member Kevin Rafferty gives us his experience from the Union’s 3-0 win over Portland,
Considering that they are located around 3000 miles away, I am always amazed at the support that Portland always brings to PPL. Seventy five people might not seem a lot but, hey, that’s seventy five people that paid big bucks for a 6 hour plane ride to go and see their team play. Now that’s a plane ride to Philly. If you’re traveling from Portland to PPL Park you have to really, really want to be here.
The traveling support brought TIFO made for this specific encounter, which might be a first for away support traveling to PPL. They brought a big banner reading “It’s always sunny in Chester” written across a circular pattern of Timbers gold and green. It looked to be about 10 feet wide by 5 feet tall. A thinner banner of similar length read “PTFC don’t crack” accompanied by a graphic of our Liberty Bell.
They sang , pounded their drums, and did the bouncy without air of wind-up, aggression, or general contempt that you occasionally get from other supporter groups, and simply expect, as a matter of course, from the New York teams.
We played well into the first half hour, creating chances while allowing, few to none, from the opposition.
At the beginning of the match I saw a guy in the front row of 136 with an AFC Bournemouth jersey.
We are to play them in a friendly in a few days time. He made his way down to the concourse separating our sections and I gave him a clap and thumbs up in way of welcome. He had a banner with him, designed with the cross of St. George. The panels were emblazoned with his postal code and other talismans of Bournemouth pride. He said that he wanted to hang it on the railing where he was seated but was getting a ton of grief. I told them that my two friends seated at the front of 135 would have no problem, so he got on with it. His banner got an early bath in the 36th minute. The red card was delivered by a steward who escorted our guest into the concourse. He returned minutes later, sans banner. The episode was orchestrated by a few Sons of Ben members that take their role as supporters to orthodox extremes. Unfortunately.
In the second half we knock in three goals. No, this is not a work of fiction. We really did, and we celebrated uniquely. We decided to lampoon Portland’s tradition of having a lumberjack slice off a portion of log with a chainsaw to celebrate each goal at home. We used a mini-sized chainsaw to slice off a portion of Bimbo bread, representing our famous sandwich. We did it three times. The last goal hit side netting immediately in my sight line. Is there anything more seductive than seeing the ball bulge the net, spin furiously and rise about an inch, before descending gently to earth? I climbed the concourse railing to hi-five mates that I couldn’t get to because of the fracas ensuing.
At 85:36 a curious song broke out in our section to the tune of “7 Nation Army”. The words went “go back to Seattle”. Oh my! I would like to attribute this to some sly attempt at humor involved in advertising disdain for the Pacific Northwest by feigning confusion over its two principal towns. The catch is that the row that started the chant were all very drunk. They stayed out in the parking lot drinking through the first half and didn’t take their seats until the second began.
The final whistle went and a song started from the center of the River End. “You came a long way to lose a game” was sung to the tune of “He’s got the whole world in his hands”. A big win, some big celebrations and a big step forward. They did come a long way to lose the game, but they did what most of us would if we had the opportunity to, and that’s travel across the country to see their team play. One fan even came from across the pond and his team don’t play until Tuesday. If anything sums up the growth of the sport in America, fan efforts like this may just be it.