“That’s what I call a rally cry”
Not just a catchy lyric from Hamilton’s own Arkells but also an impressed recognition of Hamilton sports management, the Barton Street Battalion and everyone else involved in making the CPL, especially Forge FC, what it is and what it will be.
Most have heard by now that Hamilton will be host city for the Canadian Premier League’s inaugural match, a derby match if you will, vs. York9 FC. While individuals of other founding cities may disagree, one can’t help but argue that Hamilton is the most deserving of this honour. A stretch to say the city is ignored, you could call its history that of an events and location scouting “alternative”, Ti-Cats and now Bulldogs aside. Heck, multiple outlets often describe goings on there as being “near Toronto” rather than “in Hamilton.” (I’m especially looking at you, BlogTO)
Needless to say, it has got dedicated football fans from all over, and born & raised, who want to show they can do what the “big cities” can do, my quotation, not theirs.
In 2014, before the CPL was set in stone, the Hamilton Ti-Cats organization had met with Ontario Soccer plus local sports officials with the desire of developing a professional soccer team for the city. While the North American Soccer League was a valued option, the dreams of Canada’s own league as a goal destination couldn’t be shaken. Ti-Cats’ own Bob Young had sat down with the Canadian Soccer Association’s President a year prior to discuss this possibility.
At the start of 2016, a supporter group by the name of Barton St. Battalion was founded, and no matter the announcement, or lack of, they never stopped believing, or rooting for what would be.
By summer 2016, it was reported that John McGrane, a Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, had met with Hamilton’s city council on behalf of Bob Young to request authorization for a $3M installation at Tim Horton’s Field; a winterized dome for soccer academy purposes. Come fall, Ti-Cats management was already having citizens fill in surveys pertaining to soccer interest, pricing for tickets and picking a name.
Funny enough, they didn’t use the either of the names originally submitted for trademarking; Hamilton Steelers and Hamilton United.
Come 2018, post-confirmation of the CPL, with each official team announcement came a message of congratulations from the Battalion, often ending with a reminder of their turn coming. Canada Soccer had confirmed Hamilton and Winnipeg as founding cities in May of 2017.
4 official (other) team announcements later – York9, Cavalry, HFX, Valour- Hamilton’s Forge FC was unveiled in front of an excited Tim Horton’s Field crowd, and 75 on-stage Battalion members, on July 12th, 2018. The supporter group that had been present, active almost province-wide and charitable (ask about their fundraising soccer tourneys) since its launch finally had their team.
#ForgeFact: By the end of the announcement day, the Battalion had sold 350 supporter scarves.
Approximately 1000 fans were registered with deposit for club membership within the first week.
Now, 3 years from their conception, the Barton Street Battalion are living out their dream of supporting their home city at TH Field for all to see, plus the honour of setting the precedent with their game day introduction to the world being the first home opener for the league.
For those looking for some new footy friends, or opportunities for involvement, don’t let the idea, or more-so common stereotype, of supporters groups intimidate you. According to the Battalion’s own Allan Gorman, everyone is welcome.
A now-Hamiltonian born in Glasgow, Gorman says football is not only in his blood but also that of his son who happened to be born the day they then watched Holland vs. Uruguay in the 2010 World Cup.
“After 10 years in Canada, it was different to not have a domestic league. To have the home opener here, it’s brilliant. I wouldn’t be able to contain my jealousy if it was in Halifax or hosted by Pacific. We’ve been waiting for over 3 years and now we get to show Canada what we’re about as a group and a city. Everyone is 100% welcome with the Battalion; home, away or casual, before and after. If they want to join us in Section 112, we want everyone to have a good time while also being passionate about what’s going on.”
At the time of writing this, the Battalion have approximately 520 season ticket holding members in Section 112 alone, plus 100-150 throughout other areas of TH Field.
(We can’t wait to see what happens this Saturday)