On Derby Day, Following some lively pre-match bacchanal at Stout NYC on West 33rd Street in Manhattan, a unified brigade of New York City fans set off to make the commute to Red Bull Arena.
— Samuelinho Dunn (@RealFakeSamDunn) May 12, 2015
The trip is barely eleven miles, and requires only one transfer. Riding the PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson), a staple for commuters on both sides of the river, is generally as routine as routine gets.
That was not the case when the merry band of percussively-inclined, song-belting New York City FC fans showed up at the 33rd Street Station around 3:45 PM on Sunday.
What had started auspiciously had been, shall we say, "mitigated by circumstance": the Port Authority police were not the least bit interested in hearing the Third Rail Supporters' Club, Brown Bag Social Club, and the rest banging on drums and leading the kind of loud, bombastic call-and-response mania soccer fans generally accept as business as usual.
As police officers tried to contain the revelry -- banging on the train car ceilings, inevitable rockings back-and-forth -- a couple of Red Bull fans attempted to sneak by unnoticed.
They did not succeed in their endeavor.
The cops -- doing an Oscar-quality impersonation of "fun police" -- very quickly lost all patience for the jubilant throngs of sky-blue faithful. Hell, they made every single person in NYCFC gear get off the ready-to-depart PATH train and wait for the next, citing safety concerns, upon which I will not comment.
It would take a full thirty minutes.
It was abundantly clear that local law enforcement had no idea whatsoever that hundreds of socceroos would be commuting from New York City to support their team across the river in Harrison. When the Yankees play, the subway system takes that into account. Same goes for the Mets, Knicks, Rangers, and Nets-- public transit schedules are enhanced on game days to account for the additional traffic.
Essentially, the city anticipates the crowds, and gives out orders to service-providers and law enforcement accordingly. This hasn't happened with soccer in New York City quite yet, despite the fact that NYCFC has sprung out of the gate drawing far-larger crowds -- and greater strain on the public transit system -- than the average Yankees baseball game.
To be perfectly honest, the same municipal disconnect that didn't anticipate increased crowds on the PATH for Sunday's derby is the exact same disconnect that has made the search for NYCFC's mythical, alleged soccer-specific stadium such a painful, agonizing process. The city just doesn't get it: they don't "get" pro soccer, NYCFC, supporter culture, none of it. Not yet, anyway.
So, what is a fan to do? With precious tailgating time slipping away -- and with an eye toward keeping their song game sharp -- NYCFC fans invented "Whisper-Chanting" (W.C.):
Whisper on, Five Boroughs. Whisper hard, whisper true, but always decked out in sky-blue...