Cody Cousino / Photo editor
Some people call Columbus Crew fans loud, rowdy and even crazy, but if you ask them, they prefer the term “Hooligans.”
Ohio State students and half-brothers, Grant Thurmond and Cord Andrews, along with their friend Drew Abdalla, started watching the Crew as kids during the team’s inaugural season in 1996. Their love for the Crew continued into their college years, but the mediocre soccer club drove many fans away, triggering a staggering decline in attendance.
But in 2006, the group of three, in an effort to support a struggling team that, at times, seemed to lack a passionate fan base, formed the Hudson Street Hooligans.
“The atmosphere was just really dull,” said Thurmond, a fourth-year in sport and leisure studies. “And I think we all wanted to change that. We had a vision to fill the stadium.”
As they searched to make that change, the three began meeting at Abdalla’s house near the corner of High Street and Hudson Street on game days to tailgate.
And after repeated tailgates, Andrews, a fourth-year in construction management, said only one thing was missing from the group – a name.
“After it started to become a regular thing, we decided we needed a name for our group,” Andrews said. “We called ourselves the Hudson Street Hooligans because we had to walk up Hudson to get to the stadium.”
But the small group of three was just the beginning.
“We tried to get a lot of people over to Drew’s and to the game,” Andrews said. “I started recruiting a bunch of people from my girlfriend’s dorm and we saw the group start to grow.”
But the group didn’t see noticeable change until the 2008 season when the Crew captured their first MLS cup, defeating the New York Red Bulls, 3-1.
In summer 2010, the group formed themselves into a club that required a paid membership, and as a result, needed to find a venue that would accommodate the hundreds of people coming to tailgate for the games. The group found Ruby Tuesday on Summit Street and called it home until June 2010 when they opened their own bar, Hudson Street Hooligans Pub, located at 2236 Summit Street.
“It was an exciting time,” Thurmond said. “We had our own place and the club was getting huge.”
But the club’s plans were put on hold when problem arose during an inspection by the City of Columbus, after which the pub’s certificate of occupancy was revoked on July 28, 2011. The club was forced to close its doors after just one season.
“We tried to keep it open,” Thurmond said. “But we decided that the amount of effort it would take to keep it was too much.”
Despite the closing, the group continues to thrive, boasting more than 1,000 paid members to date.
“I don’t know if any of us expected the group to be this big,” Andrews said. “It crossed our minds that it could be big, but that was never a realistic thought to us.”
But the founders said they know the club wouldn’t be what it is without its members. Aaron Aebie, a second-year in communication and member of the Hudson Street Hooligans, said the rowdiness of the Hooligans is what makes the games fun.
“It’s crazy,” Aebie said. “With all the people that are there, the atmosphere is just electric.”
Aebie said without the Hooligans, the games just wouldn’t be the same.
“We have our own section and it’s kind of a free-for-all at times,” Aebie said. “It’s such a fun thing to be a part of.”
That’s what the Hudson Street Hooligans are all about.
“When you’re a Hooligan, you feel like you’re part of the game,” Thurmond said, “and beyond that, you feel like you’re actually a part of the team.”