By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Paige recently voiced her frustration in a letter directly to Jeff Plush, the Rapids managing director.
"I sat in the upper section of 100 during a game on June 21. As I sat there trying to watch the game, I watched DSG Security, Argus, Adams County Sheriff and probably other agencies pick out individuals one by one, bring them up to the top of the section, interrogate them, make them produce their ID and then write down their information," the letter begins. "Some of the 'selected' left the park, others returned to their seats looking humiliated. I know there are always a few bad seeds and troublemakers. But for Pete's sake, it has become unbearable for 95 percent of the people that love the game to go and cheer and watch. I ache for the days of eating, drinking and breathing the Rapids. My passion is slowly dwindling and fading fast, and this bothers me A LOT.
"Please stop the insanity!" the letter continues. "Stop trying to homogenize the fans and turn them into a seated and sedated section, with hands folded on laps. It is safe to say the Rapids aren't doing so well. I would think this is a time when the fans and their passion is exactly what the team needs to boost morale. Every game, I hear of one more fan who just doesn't find the time or energy to come back. Once bitten, twice shy, I suppose."
As rain begins to trickle down and the clock moves towards 7:30 p.m., the tailgaters pack up their bags and move inside. The Burnhams go along, too: A free ticket is a free ticket. Atop section 100 is a brand-new placard informing all who enter that this is the supporters' section, an area prone to prolonged standing and singing. If you are not comfortable with this, the sign suggests, perhaps it's not the section for you. Fans see the sign as a welcome development and waste no time firing up the drums, tambourines, plastic horns and cowbells, and belting out a tune familiar to any soccer fan:
If I had the wings of a sparrow, if I had the arse of a cow,
I'd fly over Columbus tomorrow, and I'd shit on the bastards below!
Shit on, shit on, shit on the bastards below, below!
Shit on, shit on, shit on the bastards below!
The chant merits a few surprised glances from patrons in neighboring section 101, followed by shrugs. Twenty-one minutes into the game, Columbus puts one past the Rapids Senegalese keeper Bouna Coundoul, and the entire section is a sea of raised arms of frustration as the visitor takes a 1-0 lead. In the 43rd minute, a red card against Columbus player Steven Lenhart converts that sea into one of middle fingers. Two miscreants remove their shirts and scrawl "FO = Dicks" on their chests — a not-so-subtle broadcasting of their belief that the front office is a bunch of dicks. After the half, in the 66th minute, the first smoke bomb goes off. In the 75th minute, Columbus puts a second goal in the net, and chants of "Fire Clavijo" pour out of section 100.
Then, in the 81st minute, something very strange happens. Section 100 sits down and shuts up. At first, just a few NCC leaders push the move, but others soon join in and soon a section that had filled the air with chants and drumming, streamers and horns, is completely silent.
Before the game, Aguayo had talked about organizing such a sit-down to show the front office what they'd be missing if section 100 didn't participate. There had been communication between NCC and C-Firm members about when such a sit-down should take place, and if it should at all, but no final decision was reached. Now, completely impromptu, section 100 is silent for the first time all year.
Then a security guard removes two young fans from the section — the apparent smoke-bomb enthusiasts from minutes before — and the quiet quickly erupts.
"What did they do?" one supporter yells.
"Let 'em stay!" another cries.
Suddenly everyone has something to say, and when word filters down from the concourse that both young fans are being removed, one banned from the stadium for the rest of the season, the fans stage a walkout. Roughly half of the section makes their way up the stairs, past the security guards and police and out into the parking lot. Others remain in their seats, confused.
And when the final whistle blows on the field, signaling a 2-0 loss that puts the Rapids in second-to-last-place in the league, one of the few remaining supporters walks out, disgusted, holding a Rapids scarf for all to see: with the word "Colorado" upside down.
"Hey, your scarf is facing the wrong way," someone yells.
"I know," he yells back, frustrated. "There's a reason for that!"
The soccer message boards were aflame after the game against Columbus. One post in particular stood out from the rest, though, a missive from a Crew fan named Sean Kelly. A member of the Hudson Street Hooligans Crew, a Columbus supporters group, Kelly used his Air Force duty leave to make the road trip from Ohio for the game.