By Evan Ream
Upon my entry to Massachusetts, I tweeted at the Midnight Riders, asking them for their tailgate information. Less than an hour later, I was given the tailgate information, asked if I needed to be shown around and invited to a morning pickup game.
After playing with them at Harvard and going to a bar in Cambridge to watch MLS with them on Saturday, I arrived at the tailgate two-and-a-half hours before game time on Sunday. There were already about 50 people there even though the bus that was bringing 45 additional fans from Boston had not arrived yet.
I was offered a large variety of food and beer that every single member of the Midnight Riders and the other support group, the Rebellion, seemed to have prepared. After being invited on a soccer podcast in front of a “live audience,” the bus full of fans finally showed up.
The bus was late because the air conditioning broke on the original bus. (The Midnight Riders use a company that supplies older busses because they’re the only company in the area that lets them drink on the bus).
A few fans including a Midnight Riders board member ran over to the bus specifically to flip the people inside off.
This is the first time any group from the club has arranged a bus to the stadium from the Boston area. Gillette Stadium is about an hour out of the city, and there is no access to it via public transportation.
Apparently, the Revolution don’t care about their working class fans. Joe Butler, one of the board members, who may or may not have been guilty in flipping his own fan group off, estimated that if the Revolution had a stadium in the actual city, they would average around 30,000 fans each game.
As soon as the bus showed up and the Riders disembarked, the atmosphere grew, yet became more relaxed; if there was belligerent binge drinking, I certainly didn’t witness it. Not that they don’t partake in drinking, as witnessed by my time out with them the previous night. But the Midnight Riders are about more than just having a good time.
“Outside of all the drinking and eating we do, we pride ourselves in all the charity work we do,” said Chris Camille, a Midnight Riders board member and my unofficial host for the weekend.
The Riders are scheduled to play the Rebellion in Gillette Stadium on July 21 to raise money for New England Revolution legend Taylor Twellman’s charity, thinktaylor.org.
The Fort (the area where both supporters groups sit) capo, dressed in shorts and Tevas, constantly cracked jokes with the fans. French jokes (directed at the absent Thierry Henry), f-bombs and New Jersey jokes were all part of the agenda.
Grade-school children dressed in navy blue with mohawks start chants from the tenth row. New England flags are constantly waved.
The atmosphere is more like a college house party in which everyone knows each other than an English soccer game. The laughs are just as abundant as the songs.
At the end of the game, instead of leaving, the fans pile on top of each other near the field. Every player comes over and thanks them. Some even toss their jersey into the stands.
The Midnight Riders gather on the concourse of the stadium, in a circle, singing and drumming their hearts away even though the game is over. They will continue this for forever. Or, at least until their bus takes them back to Boston in 30 minutes.
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