By George Weber
This may sound crazy and it may not be 100% accurate, but my friend Tim and I may be the furthest away Crew supporters as we both live and work in Bangkok, Thailand – 8,713 miles from Columbus.
I have been a Crew fan since the beginning of MLS. I was at the very first regular season game they ever played. I remember sitting in the closed end of the Horseshoe in Columbus and watching Dr. Khumalo, break someone’s ankles with a ridiculous move. I never had season tickets, but my college soccer team would attend at least two to three games a year and then I would go once or twice during the summers. I lived in Xenia, OH and as a college student, I couldn’t afford to go as often as I would have liked. I think one of the things that excited me the most was the fact that professional soccer had finally arrived in the US and there was a team close enough that I could support. When the Crew announced that they would be building a new soccer specific stadium, I was ecstatic. As fun as it was to go to games at Ohio Stadium, the pitch was too small, and even when there were 20,000 people at the stadium, it looked empty.
As it came close to time for the first game, a father of a player on the high School team I was coaching at the time had season tickets and was able to get five tickets to the match against the Revolution. We were able to go and I did something that I had never done before; we painted “C-R-E-W” across our chests to show our support for the team.
That’s me in the W! [Note: 5:04 in the video above] We had a blast and even got a picture taken with another group that had done the same thing. Unfortunately this is the only picture I could find of that day.
One of my favorite memories is coming into the stadium in April, 2002 and being stopped by one of the Crew cheerleaders who asked if I wanted to take part in the halftime contest. I said, “Yes!” At halftime I went down to the field (and even then it was a beautiful Pitch). The contest involved two teams of three. The objective was to put on a set of scrubs, carry a bedpan to the next person, take off the scrubs and then the next person would put them on and do the same thing. The last person would put on the scrubs and go 1v1 versus either Crew Cat or another mascot. My team went against the Crew Cat and as the only soccer player on my team, I volunteered to go last. I ended up scoring before the other team – nutmegged the Cat – and winning the contest: 4 suite tickets to a match the next month. I was able to take my then girlfriend -now my wife- and a couple of friends. I loved every minute of it.
Since I have been in Bangkok, I have continued to follow and support the Crew. We are anywhere from 11-15 hours ahead of the US in time, and when the Crew won the Cup in 2008 I got up early in the morning to make sure I was able to watch the match live. I watched it with my friend who is a Red Bulls fan and was super pumped when they were able to pull off the win. I also watched the 2015 final from here, but unfortunately they didn’t have the same luck. Even now, I get up early on Sunday mornings so I can watch the games live. I have never wavered in my support of the Crew and have stuck with the team through thick and thin.
I love talking to my players here about MLS and the Crew. They all make fun of me but none of them have ever really watched MLS and to be honest most of them have never been to a high level professional match to see the passion of the fans in person.
The time I went to that match on opening day of the stadium, it was a blast to sit with all the crazy/awesome fans, to cheer, to yell and to scream for our team. What an awesome experience!!! I hope that the next time I am in Ohio, I will be able to catch a game at Mapfre Stadium.