A small group of beer-drinking, soccer-loving friends have managed to use their love for a sport to create a growing, nationally known fanbase in just five years.
The Hudson Street Hooligans have grown into one of the best-known supporter groups in the country, using their love of soccer to create their own traditions with the hopes of making the Crew a household name in Columbus.
The Hooligans began in 2006. Their goal was to create a passionate fanbase for the Crew. They have done just that.
For every home game, you will usually see the northeast part of the stadium filled with the Crew’s loudest and most loyal fans. It is the Nordecke section, which opened in 2008. It features the Crew’s supporter groups.
The Nordecke section has about 3,000 fans, which include the Hudson Street Hooligans, the Crew Union (which is the older crowd) and La Turbina Amarilla, the Latino fanbase.
The passion of the Crew’s supporter groups has been rewarded. Memberships for each, especially the Hooligans, are constantly growing, and they have become known throughout the nation.
The Hooligans are more than just about supporting the Crew. They also do events that support their local community and beyond.
Denis de Verteuil has used his position as a Hooligan to contribute to society.
On May 29, 2010, before Columbus played the Los Angeles Galaxy, Verteuil held a fundraiser at Ruby Tuesdays to raise money to help him bike ride across America in the summer.
With Bike & Build, Verteuil will lead 30 cyclists for 40,000 miles to raise money and awareness for affordable housing. One day each week they will help build at a Habitat for Humanity site, according to the Help Denis de Verteuil Bicycle Across America! Facebook page.
The Hooligans are always looking for new members to recruit.
“You basically have to show a little bit of enthusiasm for the Crew,” Blake Compton said. “And if you like drinking beer that’s a major plus.”
Joining is simple. Anyone can either go to the online store at hudsonstreethooligans.com, go to the Hooligan Club House on the corner of Hudson and Summit or to Ruby Tuesdays during game days.
It costs $20 to join and members get discounts on tickets, drinks at Ruby Tuesdays and a buy-one-get-one-free coupon at Chipotle on game days. Memberships last for a year.
A typical game day for a Hooligan begins at Ruby Tuesdays, a bar on the corner of 19th and Summit. They begin drinking a couple hours before the game. An hour or so before kickoff, they begin their march toward the stadium, heading up Summit then right on Hudson over the train tracks, with Crew and checkered black-and-yellow flags waving.
While at the game, the Hooligans, along with the rest of the supporter groups, make their presence felt with their cheering, chants and singing.
The Hooligan Club House is another aspect of the club members will get to enjoy. It offers another place for fans and members to get together to watch soccer.
“It’s welcomed to any Hooligan members. We offer a social membership to watch soccer,” Jon Winland, vice president of the Hooligans, said. “Our goal is to try to create a fanbase here in Columbus for the sport. Obviously it’s not a big thing here in America, but we’d like to make it one.”