This last weekend saw the Stony Monday Riot take action, to protest certain OSEG security practices and club choices that stifle efforts to build an original supporter culture in Ottawa. A range of measures from CCTV cameras, being hushed by security management, and hired drummers standing atop the section drowning supporters out are sources of frustration.
The straw that broke the camel’s back: a key SMR organizer received a stadium ban for the rest of 2016 for the use of smoke in the stadium. The group made an introspective choice to not animate section W as it usually does. To sum it up: if the organization wants a quiet stadium than here it is.
The group’s statement on the action is here.
As a group we were humbled by the solidarity by several members of the Bytown Boys and messages from fans that appreciate what we do. We even received messages from supporters of rival clubs who have been in a similar spot.
Unfortunately, ownership groups across North America are making decisions that limit supporter culture and are producing a dulled generic form of support. As a result the sincere effort by thousands of supporters is curtailed in favour of controlled, plain, and repetitive crowds that struggle for identity. Go to Minnesota, Vancouver, Kansas City, or Ottawa, we’re singing a lot of the same shit. Just: insert [club name] here.
Stony Monday Riot believes we need to go beyond this approach. While not everything we sing is new, our proudest songs are written by us for our club. We see our passion as a special relationship to what is happening on the pitch and in our city. Its an idea that motivates everything we do: from viewing parties to our banners and flags. Pressing a button for smoke so that the club can look “real” for the cameras is not our desired approach.
We will continue to work towards an environment where supporter culture can flourish.
It won’t always be easy.
An original soccer culture is threatened by North American soccer’s controlling bodies. The limited corporate definition of supporter culture blocks authentic passion and requires ongoing resistance. Our collective effort for a vision of vibrant support culture is crucial.
As supporters we should step it up and speak out, continue to pressure ownerships to provide spaces that are flexible, and promote meaningful supporter culture. More than a rhythmic “yay” we should always be driven by our identity, by our passion.
Sometimes that means being quiet.