July 23, 2014: Windsor Stars/September 13, 2014: Ann Arbor FC

July 23, 2014
Cass Tech High School, Detroit, Michigan

Detroit City FC 0, Windsor Stars 0
Attendance:  3,020

September 13, 2014
Cass Tech High School, Detroit, Michigan

Detroit City FC 2, Ann Arbor United 2
Cass Tech HS 5, Detroit Renaissance 2
Attendance:  ?

Sorry to disappoint with this one.  I attended both matches, but my camera did not.

In the friendly against Windsor, my camera stayed home, packed for our trip to New York City.  We left the next morning for our long drive and my first venture into the Big Apple, but it had a soccer component as well.  Among our site-seeing, we attended the friendly between Arsenal and the New York Red Bulls on July 26th at Red Bull Arena (NYRB 1, Arsenal 0)…

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…followed by a match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Yankee Stadium on July 30th (2-2, with Liverpool winning on PKs 3-1).

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The Windsor game was just a fun evening of hanging out with the Northern Guard, flavoring my outerwear with sulfur.

The September 13th game, however, was significantly different.

This was the first Detroit Public Schools Showcase which featured a friendly between Detroit City FC and Ann Arbor FC in the first match, followed by a league game for Cass Tech High School and Detroit Renaissance High School.  It was a fundraiser for the high school program, which did not exist until after Detroit City FC’s emergence in 2012.

In April of 2014, we purchased a house that also had a one-bedroom, mother-in-law cottage on the property, in which my mother-in-law, Shirley Willard, had moved into.  Physically she was not getting around well, having had both knees and hips replaced in the previous years.  In August she took ill.  She had had breast cancer which had gone into remission a number of years ago.  It returned with a vengeance.  Home-care nurses were visiting regularly, oxygen tanks were being utilized and replenished.

Two days before the match, she was admitted into the hospital in the morning, and by evening was moved to hospice.  My wife, daughter, and son, along with my brother-in-law, stayed the next night at her side.  She passed as the sun rose match-day morning.  With everyone crashing after the long night, I went down to the game, leaving the camera at home.

Since the growth of this team, I have become Facebook friends with so many Northern Guard Supporters.  This match, I met a lot of them in person.  Prior to going down to the game, I posted a comment on my timeline about Shirley’s death.  I didn’t realize how much I would be embraced throughout the night.  It was this game that I experienced the difference between “season ticket holders” and “supporters.”  You can have season tickets for a team, sit next to people regularly at the game, and know little or nothing about their lives.  Being a part of a supporters group, however, is not solely to support the team.  It’s about supporting each other in our lives outside the team; to cheer the successes, to help with personal goals, provide advice/assistance when possible, and to console each others’ pain.  Are there differences of opinions and beliefs and being fans of different European teams among such a large group?  Of course there is.  But despite these differences, this team…this fourth-tier football club…is what draws us together, pumping rouge blood through our hearts of gold, creating a common bond that goes beyond sitting in a stadium for a few hours next to each other.


Shirley Jean Willard
June 9, 1936 – September 13, 2014

Shirley Jean Willard

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