Everyone remembers their first derby experience, rivalries between teams in close proximity. Whether its El Trafico in Los Angeles, The Cascadia Cup in the Pacific Northwest or the new, up-and-coming Hell Is Real between Columbus Crew SC and FC Cincinnati. These games always give fans the best memories, especially when your club team takes a win.
The second Major League Soccer game in the Hell Is Real Derby was played on Aug. 25, 2019 and was one Crew fans and players will never forget. Not only did they want revenge for drawing their southern Ohio counterparts just 15 days prior, but there was a statement to be made. The Black & Gold did just that with a 3-1 win at Nippert Stadium.
As mentioned before, derby’s make memories. And that is something that we here at Massive Report would like to put together as the Crew replay that game during the current MLS hiatus. A piece of fans and staff’s memories of that afternoon in Cincinnati last year.
Our staff writer, Tyler Fisher kicked us off with his memory from the game:
To start, I decided to catch a Greyhound bus down to the stadium, then grab food once I got to Nippert Stadium. Afterwards, I met up with some friends and we all headed over to a place where fans were meeting. When I say the street was flooded with black and gold, the entire street was flooded with black and gold.
Walking into the stadium with a few thousand Nor On Tour fans was probably the highlight. The chanting, the singing, the takeover of Nippert, everything about that night was special. To hear Crew fans practically make it a home game in front of 30,000 people when Gyasi Zardes and Luis Diaz scored, I was on cloud nine. To me, the best time of that entire match were the two times when fans pretty much turned it into a tease fest, chanting “USL” toward the FC Cincinnati supporters midway through the second half. Once the stadium started emptying and a sea of blue began to head to the exits, chants of “Is there a fire drill?” started and I could not stop laughing.
I lost my voice that night, but on the way home, I just couldn’t stop smiling. Watched the full game highlights from my phone numerous times and just couldn’t believe that we won.
Thomas Costello — another one of our writers — also joined in to give us his favorite memory from his experience in Cincinnati:
Going to a match in enemy territory always brings a little bit of added excitement. Walking around in black, while you’re in a sea of blue and orange, makes you pay attention to the folks around you a little more than usual. Looking for the occasional stare, seeing someone whisper to a friend or maybe getting a cordial nod adds to the experience. The excitement of Hell is Real is a memory that won’t soon be forgotten by Crew fans.
My road trip south did not involve a bus (the trip to Canada in 2017 broke me from shared mass transportation) but with my friend Shane, a season ticketholder, good friend and all-around great guy. We spent the ride talking about life, our families and the Crew. The season had not gone the way that many supporters hoped, but a true rival, not created by the MLS, brought anticipation to the drive.
We arrived in Cincinnati and began our wandering of the University of Cincinnati to find the elusive Nippert Stadium. Attending countless Crew tailgates left me at a loss for words at a stadium surrounded by pedestrians, residential and campus buildings. Reports confirm that we took a handful of wrong turns.
Since we drove solo, we weren’t herded into the supporters’ section with the rest of the Crew faithful. As the masses arrived, much of the time was spent seeing familiar matchday faces, catching up with friends from other soccer groups around Columbus and talking to inebriated coworkers. Much to my surprise, another friend and all-around great guy (and the founder of the Queen Anne’s Revenge supporters’ group) decided to surprise us by showing up at the match unannounced, after he recently moved out of state.
The precious moments of friendship lasted much longer than Cincinnati’s defense, and in the 22nd minute we went nuts. Eleven minutes later, we went nuts again. In stoppage time, we went nuts for the third time and didn’t understand what we had just seen. No offense to Caleb Porter’s men, but a three-goal first half was not something we were used to in 2019.
I remember vividly walking the concourse at halftime, looking for refreshment, with a huge smile on my face. The friendly pre-match encounters were not as frequent after the first half drubbing. Columbus’ supporters’ section continued where they left off in the first half, they were loud. We continued to sing and even started some friendly jokes towards the FC Cincinnati fans beating traffic.
Having gone to a few different Crew away matches, there is a moment after the match where a few of the players stroll over and wave. These interactions can sometime seem forced, which is completely fine because I wouldn’t be all that friendly after running for over 90 minutes either. This match was different. When the match was over (before we were forced to sit in our seats to avoid the… empty stadium), the club came over and genuinely joined in to the comradery that was built over the hours, days, months, years and generations that these supporters have invested in this team.
Every so often, the team reposts the photo showing the players waving to the supporter’s section. Every time I see it, I zoom in to find Shane and myself. Partly to relive the memories and partly to remind myself that I was there and was a part of something special.
The 2019 season was the culmination of work done by thousands across Columbus, and in soccer circles around the globe. The Columbus Crew lived to play many more seasons, and the trip to Cincinnati was a nice post-Save The Crew moment that supporters could connect to. A moment that showed the fight of the club. A fight that we hope to see back on the field soon.
Pretty solid memories from our staff, so we decided to open it up to the wonderful fan base.
My friend and I had tickets in the next section over from the away section. A stadium worker told us crew fans weren’t supposed to have tickets outside the designated area. I told her there’s more of us coming. She wasn’t expecting the turnout of crew fans and radio’d her boss.— A Soccer Ball (@SavedSoccer) April 8, 2020
I believe the "Beat the Traffic" chant really made the day special. Also, my poor FC supporting dad was an excellent sport...he even marched over to the stadium from Vine Street with the Crew loyal.— Adrienne Randall (@RandallAdrienne) April 8, 2020
My wife being a few weeks pregnant meant that I have a designated driver and was free to pollute my body with many different types of brown liquor. That was very special to me.— Morgan Hughes (@Morgan_Hughes) April 8, 2020
Seeing all the Crew fans on Vine Street before the match, and knowing it was going to be a great day— Dan (@SolonTLG) April 8, 2020
What memories do you have of Hell Is Real? Let us know in the comments below!