Away games truly bring together old-timers, new fans, and memories that last a lifetime. Even on a match that brought heart-breaking loss, fan Matt Mason has fond memories.
AttachmentsTo protect your privacy, remote images are blocked in this message. Display images“My first road trip was playoffs 2008, we lost but it was still an unbelievable experience. I had been dying to go on a road trip at this point. My friend and I decided to splurge and go on the second bus that was not even guaranteed when I bought my ticket. My awesome manager at the time changed my schedule so I could make the trip. My friend later ditched me and took a seat on the other bus, but that’s all good I had a extra seat and got to meet people. I had another friend join the group in Columbus and who received a ride from Tom I believe. I also learned about the legend that is Andrew Braudy when he took the blame for a flare he didn’t light. It was my first true Section 8 experience!”
There is something special about the MLS away trip. Unlike Europe, where teams are located so close that in many countries a far away trip is a two or three hour train ride, MLS away days are a thing of dedication. To get on a bus with 50 people, many of whom you won’t know, and committing to ride with them for hours both ways just to watch your team compete is kind of a crazy thing to do. You never know who will be on the bus until you find your seat, there is no guarantee that your team will win, and the bus is never comfortable. None of that matters. Many of the best Fire friendships are formed during away games. Vice-Chair, Dan Giroux, states he “met people on buses to Columbus, Philly and further flung destinations. Before I got on that bus I had no idea who any of them were. Spending hours drinking singing and laughing with strangers means they won’t be strangers for long. There is nothing like your first trip and the people you will meet on it, so what better way to prepare for our trip to Columbus on August 12th than to share some stories from Fire fans about their first time riding the away bus.”
Most people don’t know many other supporters when they take their first trip. Jacob Peters was the same way, getting on the bus after a few years living away from Chicago.
“My first year back in Chicago, with the prodding of the guy I split season tickets with, I jumped on a bus with essentially a bunch of strangers & rode the most boring stretch of highway in the country, the ride from Chicago to Columbus. Along the ride I realized that I actually had met many of these people on previous occasions: the dude who had met me outside Red Bull Arena to hook me up with 2 extra tickets in the supporters section; a woman who I had dozens of shared acquaintances with from our high school years on the north side; the ticket rep who had met me in River North to exchange tickets in the years before the advent of the online account manager; the intense capo that I had viewed almost as a myth more than man, but over the course of the trip, I learned he was very much just a regular guy like myself, who loved the Fire.”
“By the end of the return leg, I had shared beers and snack food with these former acquaintances and could call every single one of them a friend, because while the result didn’t go our way, we as a group were able to throw significant shade at the Cowtown that is Columbus, celebrate an Austin Berry goal & hope & pray for an equalizer over those last tense 20 minutes of the game.”
For many, like Jake, the first away trip is to Columbus. It was mine, because at the time I was nervous and the thought of being on a bus for 6 hours each way with strangers was hard enough, doing a longer trip seemed way too much for me. Not for Nate Cubeta though. Nate’s first trip was the long journey to Toronto, another Section 8 on Tour classic.
“My first away trip was Toronto, which was quite an increase in bus time from the usual Pub to Pitch. I was at AJ Hudson’s at an ungodly hour to start the journey north. The few times we got off the bus, people in Michigan and Indiana thought we were the team itself. As we got closer to Toronto, the excitement started to build. We made it to the drop off point and everyone had a celebratory meal at a diner and got to know each other better. Even though we were placed in the upper corner of the stadium, we sang throughout the game. Despite the result being a loss, it was a great experience and lots of the TFC fans applauded our spirit. We left the stadium singing as we headed to a few bars. We all met up the next morning at the same diner before getting on the bus and it was great to hear everyone’s stories of how the night ended up. A lot of the people on that bus I became friends with and I now see at matches both home and away!”
The beautiful thing about the away trips are the unification of Fans. People from every supporters group ride the bus, as well as plenty of people not in one. There are no divisions about what the best way to support are, and for a bus ride there, a bus ride back, and a game in between, everyone is just there to support the Fire. Juan Velazquez has similar feelings, his favorite memory from his first away trip was all the Fire fans being escorted into the stadium at the same time.
“The collective group of Section 8, Sector Latino and everyone in between – singing in this beautiful mix tape of song/chants making our presence felt in enemy territory and never once feeling outnumbered. Away matches, you just want to sing a little louder and jump a little higher.”
With August 12th coming up, and a first placed Chicago Fire getting ready to crash the party in Columbus, I can’t think of a better trip to make your first. Let’s strive to have at least 2 buses, if not 3, worth of fans making their way to Ohio next month, and why drive when you can drink, sing and meet your new best friends from the comfort of a touring bus. Make the commitment now and don’t miss what could be one of the most exciting Fire road trips in years. The Board will do its best to make it a memorable one, or maybe, as one Fire supporter told us fondly, it is better when it is better when you don’t remember much at all.
“Do i remember my first trip? Barely.”
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