There’s a post on New York City FC’s Twitter account that shows assistant coach Nick Cushing belting out a chant to a familiar sing-song tune that you often hear in European football stadiums.
But this isn’t just another chant. This one is special because Cushing wrote the words, and it’s dedicated to NYCFC’s title-winning season: This the song that captures the spirit of the players and the fans who brought a champion’s trophy to New York City.
Called “The Story of the City Boys,” It’s a song worth learning.
When you look across the pond to England, the supporters of clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester United have songs tailored to their identities. Chelsea’s “Blue is the Color” speaks to the pride you feel when you’re associated with the club, the family you join when you put on your blue shirt and stand in the crowds at Stamford Bridge. “Glory, Glory Man United” dates to the 1980s and the golden age of the Red Devils, when the club lifted nearly every trophy it was eligible to win.
Where there is history there are more stories to tell—and there is a distinct lack of history in Major League Soccer. The American league might have come to fruition only 27 years ago, and NYCFC first took the field only in 2015, but New York’s soccer history was written last year when the team won the MLS Cup. Cushing rose to the occasion by celebrating that moment in the best way his English soccer-crazed soul could: He wrote a song, and he sang it for us.
The chant that Cushing belted out has the characteristics of an all-time great. First, it was made by one of our very own. The former head coach of Manchester City Women Football Club, Cushing left England to join manager Ronny Deila’s team: He was here for the strange COVID-shortened 2020 season, and for the improbable run to winning the MLS Cup in 2021.
Second, it speaks directly to the fans. This chant was made for them, the supporters who no longer identify with an expansion team that chokes in the playoffs, but with a mature club that outplays the best teams in MLS and lifts trophies. This chant might even mean as much to the front office as it does to the fans: It helps us forget the frustration of playing at Yankee Stadium, the “Sims Out” tweets, and the other grievences expressed by fans who expect nothing but the best from the club.
Most importantly, the chant has that English-infused passion that can turn any Briton into a bard: You see Cushing, standing before a small crowd in a state of ecstasy after winning it all, reciting a song that tells the story of what they did, and who they did it for.
Cushing’s chant is a poem, a ballad, an oral history of NYCFC’s run to the title. The tune might be familiar, but the lyrics are raw and speak to exactly what happened that historic season—and that’s what makes it original to NYCFC.
Will we hear the Nick Cushing chant sung in the subway cars heading to the Bronx, and shouted under the tracks on River Avenue? We hope the chant will echo in the Great Hall, and roar throughout the stands of Yankee Stadium. The Nick Cushing chant is an anthem for NYCFC, a song to be bellowed in your loudest, proudest voice—especially when we face a certain trophy-less team from across the Hudson River.
This is the year that the kits have a star above the badge, and NYCFC have a chant worthy of a champion.
The Story of the City Boys, by Nick Cushing
We went to Portland Timbers
We won the f*****g lot
We won at Gillette Stadium
And we won at Subaru Park
We’re led by Ronny Deila
We’re never gonna stop
We play at Yankee Stadium
In our blue and white
We are New York City
And we’re from the Bronx
They call us the Pigeons
And we won MLS Cup
Allez, allez, allez
Allez, allez, allez…