Crewsmas - It is upon us once again. That festive day where hope abounds and friendships are re-kindled and strengthened. The coming together of the Columbus Crew SC faithful, from many different backgrounds and many different upbringings, all united under the black and gold. Under this shield, this banner of America’s Hardest Working Team - we are one
Symbolizing that togetherness by sharing a cold Columbus ale with friends, both old and new, each Crewsmas Eve ranks near the top of my list of annual events in the city.
This year, I wanted to make a valiant effort to visit all four local establishments that were hosting official events on Crewmas Eve to check out the vibe of not only the crowd and the setting, but also reconnect to the local scene and scope out my next spot to watch a Crew away match.
I knew I would start and end my night at Endeavor Brewing. So I got there early to get a spot and chat it up with a few of the staff members. We talked Crew soccer, the latest brews on tap but most importantly, Endeavor’s place in Columbus history as the historic base of operations for a group of men and women that shocked the sporting world when the Save The Crew movement did what they set out to do and kept the Crew at home in Columbus forever. The story, courage and intestinal fortitude of the Save The Crew movement, which has been well documented over the last year-plus, is the stuff of which movies are made. Here we are, living it out - our club, our heartbeat, that team you can’t help falling in love with - our Crew is here to stay. For that, we all raise a glass.
Inside these walls of Endeavor were long nights and hard days, as someone who has rekindled his passion for the Crew directly from the Save The Crew movement’s hard work, I offer a sincere thanks and I will forever tell the story of all the hard work that the men and women of that movement did to keep our beloved Club in our city.
As Tim Ryznar, a bartender at Endeavor said about the significance of that time in Crew history: “[Endeavor] was one light when everything else was going dark around us. The end result of [the Save the Crew movement] is that the Crew is still in Columbus… you can stand a little taller in here, especially in that room.”
Here’s to the Night
As the crowd begins to pick up at Endeavor, I made it a point to pick up a six-pack of beer to-go for the tailgate on Sunday before I went to Pub Mahone. I grabbed an Icelandic Saga and bumped into a few friends. Half an hour after I started saying my goodbyes, my conversation with my brother (T-bone from 97.1 The Fan, as you may know him) and others got interrupted by chants of “Dr. Pete! Dr. Pete!” as Crew owner Pete Edwards walked into the bar - no media, no publicist, just a guy getting a drink with a few hundred of his friends.
You would be hard-pressed to find another owner in sports who is as much a man of the people as Dr. Edwards is with the Crew family. In addition to his connection to the Crew faithful, his standing in the community is outstanding. Count me in the thousands of people across the state that have been able to walk again thanks to his orthopedic practice.
I was about to leave at the same time as Dr. Pete when I hear an uproar from the crowd in the bar. When asked, he smiles and says “the bartender just told them all that I bought the whole bar a beer.” Class act.
My Uber arrived to take me to Pub Mahone, my next stop on the Tour de Crewsmas Eve. During the ride, I found out my driver had not been to a Crew game and had just relocated here from the West Coast, via Libya. As we chatted about his love for the beautiful game and his support for Real Madrid and Liverpool, our conversation turned to the Crew. While the Crew don’t have a Ronaldo or a Mohamed Salah on the roster, I discussed the importance of what the signing of someone like Lucas Zelarayan meant to the club, the new stadium and training facility and the city itself.
It was another example of Crew soccer connecting complete strangers.
By the end of the ride, I tipped him my tickets to an upcoming match. We all should participate in a little soccer evangelism when we can and I was happy to my part.
I left a 5-star review and head on into Pub Mahone . This place is laid out with a surplus of TVs. I tried to avoid the Nashville SC-Atlanta United game to watch it when writing this story, but I couldn’t turn anywhere in the bar without seeing it. This will definitely be a spot I’ll watch an away game during the 2020 season.
After chatting with a few folks, I met the owners of Supporter Supply Co., who had set up a pop-up shop at the bar. My laptop and water bottles now sport a fresh new coat of Crew stickers. Seriously stoked to see what new gear they come out with next.
It was getting late and I’d only visited half the pubs I planned on visiting. To the Uber!
My driver this time was a Somalian gentleman, funny and engaging, we somehow got on the subject of food and both shared our love for Injera “a sourdough risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture,” as Google states, but all I know is, it changed how I looked at food and opened a whole new world to me. You have to try it - more importantly, it will change the way you want to eat your food like meats and veggies. Food and football connected us and before I knew it I was dropped off at Fourth Street Bar and Grill.
As I enter, I was greeted by Kevin McCullough, longtime Nordecke organizer and the kind of friend who you can pick up a conversation where you left off, even if that was months ago. The Crew-centric crowd was winding down at Fourth Street, I made my plans to go to Ruby Tuesday and finish my last stop, but the night was running out for me and Kevin was nice enough to give me a ride back to Endeavor.
Thus ended a great night of reminiscing, sharing the hope of the season to come in the morning and honestly just being thankful - for friends and good times following our hometown club.
We remain. Our club remains - where it belongs - entrenched deeply in the heart of Ohio and it’s people. Happy Crewsmas and may we find three points today and a few Cups in our future!
For more pictures of Crewmas Eve, follow my Instagram @mainlymidwest.