When the Columbus Crew supporters group Queen Anne’s Revenge, or QAR, was founded in 2017, it was a small group of friends that met up on match days and tailgate. To build onto the group, founder Jon Robinson joined the Independent Supporters’ Council, self described as “a collective that is here to promote supporters’ culture and advocate for fair treatment of supporters, both at home and on the road.”
Fast forward to 2020 and the group moved into the Columbus supporters’ “mega tailgate” where all supporters groups tailgates set up on match day. QAR also found themselves in the middle of the public Supporters’ Shield debate and have persevered in a tough 2020 year for fans. More importantly, through it all, they’ve kept a focus on giving back to the city they call home.
One part of being in the Independent Supporters’ Council is an expectation to be a bigger piece of the community. QAR wanted to get started quickly after joining the Independent Supporters’ Council in 2019, so before the 2020 Crew season began on March 1, QAR discussed options. In stepped Brian Lenoy.
“Before the first tailgate this year, he (Robinson) threw it out ‘Hey, let’s do a food drive’,” said Lenoy. “We were trying to figure out who to do it for.”
Lenoy has experience lending a helping hand in this community. The Westerville resident used to volunteer at an organization called WARM, the Westerville Area Resource Ministry. They exist for one purpose, to serve the community. It was a clear choice.
On Crewsmas, the first home match of every season, QAR held a resource drive at their new spot on the corner of the main walkway at the mega tailgate. While supporters were busy celebrating the Black & Gold holiday, QAR built a supply of their own gifts to give back to the city, filling up boxes with diapers, toilet paper, food and anything else needed to help people in Columbus make it through tough times.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Matches, spending time with friends and family and tailgates were placed on hold, a hold that is still in place at MAPFRE Stadium and countless other stadiums across the country. A combination of friendship, a little bit of luck and their work giving back helped QAR continue to grow, even though there weren’t stadiums and parking lots full of people.
“The way that I’ve seen it grow over the past year, we’re still doing the donations and people still wanna be involved in that,” said Alex Voisard, a co-founder and member of Queen Anne’s Revenge. “People see that we’re doing this stuff and say, ‘I like what they’re doing here even though it’s hard to be in an active state.’”
That luck part came back to QAR’s decision to join the Independent Supports’ Council. On Oct. 17, the Supporters’ Shield Foundation, a separate entity connected to the ISC that awards the Supporters’ Shield to the top team in Major League Soccer each year, made a public announcement that they would forego awarding the Shield for the 2020 season.
Jon and Alex were the contacts between QAR, a part of the Nordecke, the Crew supporters’ umbrella supporters’ group that sits in MAPFRE Stadium’s Northeast corner, and the ISC. So when fans both in and out of supporters groups contacted the Nordecke about if they were part of the decision-making process, they were directed to Jon and Alex.
These two QAR members helped provide feedback to the proper channels and the decision was reversed six days later. They were not alone across Major League Soccer in letting the Supporters’ Shield Foundation know that the decision, which was not discussed with supporters across the league, was the wrong one, but their handling brought a little more attention to the young group.
After an eventful season off the field, and an even more eventful one on it for the Crew, QAR is ready for Saturday’s MLS Cup Final between the Black & Gold and the Seattle Sounders.
“I’m ecstatic. It’s a combination of so many things,” said Voisard. “2020 was difficult but we’re here and we’ve made it. It’s just a big collage of 100 different things. It really makes it super sweet.”
This being the final postseason run at historic MAPFRE Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium built in the United States, is also not lost on the group.
“Win or lose, we’re able to host that big game in the last postseason in MAPFRE,” said Lenoy.
He echoes the sentiments of a lot of supporters, in terms of the potential attendance of the MLS Commissioner: “It’ll be even sweeter if (Don) Garber has to hand us the Cup.”
Even though the end of the season is a time to reflect for most, Queen Anne’s Revenge isn’t taking the time to just rest. They’re shifting from gathering Crewsmas gifts to gathering Christmas gifts to people that depend on WARM’s service to the community.
People can drop off necessities like toilet paper, diapers, canned food and other items to any of the two North High Brewing locations across the city to join this socially distant resource drive. To see a full list, find them across social media or on the Nordecke website.
We’re so happy to announce we’ll be doing a food drive for WARM! North High Brewing will have Collection boxes at their Short North & Dublin location. North High will be collecting food from now until December 20th! Thank you in advance #Crew96 family! @northhighbrew @WARM_1972 pic.twitter.com/7GhvQ5tqRs— Queen Anne's Revenge (@QueenAnnesCCSC) December 6, 2020
As the Crew celebrates a week of different ways to amplify the good in the city during the team’s “Countdown to the Cup,” Thursday is a day the Black & Gold wants supporters to share how they have given back. Members of Queen Anne’s Revenge are not short of examples in 2020.