The Crazy SF Soccer Team Supporters You Didn’t Know Existed
So there’s this thing called soccer, right? And the rest of the world calls it football or futball or whatever, and is batshit crazy in love with it. And as Americans we’re all, “Yeah soccer is cool. I played it as a kid until I discovered pot when I was 14, and now I like to watch the World Cup every four years.”
Does that sound about right? I know that sums up most of my experiences with soccer. But interest in it seems to keep growing in the US and from what I understand, Major League Soccer (MLS), continues to expand.
For some soccer fans though, waiting for a professional team to come to San Francisco just isn’t enough, so they’ve decided to start supporting an amateur team called the San Francisco City Football Club. The supporters have named themselves the “Northsiders” (because they sit on the north side stands at Kezar stadium) and like most football club supporters, they’re somewhere between a cheer squad and a drinking society. And OhMyGod they are a lot of fun to hang out with.
Before I get too far into this I just want to let you know that you too can join the fun. The next home game is June 4th at Kezar Stadium against the Las Vegas Mobsters and tickets are only $8 online and $10 at the door. Get yours here.
When I was invited to a game last month, I didn’t really know what to expect. I brought along my buddy Emmanuel, who also plays soccer locally, and we headed out to the athletic fields over near Ocean Beach. The Northsiders were pre-gaming at Beach Chalet, where we met them for beers and snacks. Once we were properly lubricated and fed, everyone got together for the photo below, and then we marched towards the soccer fields.
Now remember this: The Northsiders have willed themselves into existence. They’ve collectively decided that they want a team to cheer for and because of this, they chose one. Considering the teams that SF City FC play against have virtually no fans, other than their family members, there’s something beautifully quixotic about the Northsiders. They are so wonderfully San Francisco.
Once the game began The Northsiders became the kind of jubilant assholes you’d expect football club supporters to be. They taunted the other team’s players, yelling things like “Hey Rat-Tail!” at player who did have a magnificent rat tail. They also chanted things and took popular songs and changed the lyrics to them to make them about San Francisco and SF City FC. Check them out signing “When the Fog Comes Rolling In” to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In” below:
While SF City FC doesn’t have a mascot, the Northsiders do. And of course it’s the most noble of all urban animals, the pigeon. Not only is the pigeon on their home made flags and banners, they also have a pigeon mask that gets passed around throughout the game. It’s weird and creepy in the best way possible. You can see it in the images above.
While watching the soccer game was all well and good, for me the real joy of the evening was drinking and yelling stuff. And the Northsiders did it with aplomb. The SF City FC got their asses whopped something like 3-0 that day, but it didn’t seem to diminish the Northsiders spirits in the least bit. The consumption of beer might’ve helped that.
Between the yelling and singing and chanting I learned a few other things about the Northsiders and SF City FC like:
- They Northsiders’ main slogan (one of many) is “Built Not Bought”.
- In addition to singing, chanting, etc., they create HUGE painted banner displays know in the soccer world as “tifo” that are revealed at the game and displayed in their section of the stands. They paint these at volunteer painting parties throughout the year.
- All banners, drums, musical instruments, smoke, etc., are purchased by fans and/or created by fans. They receive no financial assistance for this from the club. That’s the “Built, Not Bought” part.
- SF City FC plays in the PDL (Premier Development League) Central Pacific division. The PDL is the highest level of amateur play in the US soccer pyramid.
- Home games are played at Kezar Stadium or Negoesco field at USF.
- Many players come from the teams at USF and SF State and play for them during the summer.
- SF City FC is NOT related to the San Francisco Deltas, a professional team in a different league that is bidding to play at Kezar Stadium in 2017 and has gotten lots of press this year.
When I was at the game, a film crew was there to shed some light on the momentum SF City FC and the Northsiders seem to be picking up. Check it out below, it’s fucking awesome!:
And what’s probably the coolest part about all this is that SF City FC is supporter owned. While I don’t know if everyone in The Northsiders is a member (membership starts at only $25), the supporters owns nearly half the football club.
According to the Club’s website, There is a “51% & 49% ownership split between SF City Membership and the Investor Group respectively. This ensures that a majority of the club’s profits will always be reinvested back into the San Francisco community.” From a management perspective, all major administrative decisions must be unanimously approved by a board that includes member representatives.
A co-op sports team where you can go to the games cheaply and get drunk and yell stuff? Are you fucking kidding me? Sign me up.
If you want to connect with the Northsiders, come out to a game! Home opener is at Kezar Stadium June 4, kickoff 3pm. The rest of the schedule can be found here. Tickets are $8 online and $10 at the door with discounts available for youth/student/military
You can find the team on social media.