Hammer Down

mcb post game

(Pic courtesy of Magic City Brigade)

Imagine. Imagine your first event. Imagine hosting a notable guest. Imagine a perfect night.

For the Birmingham Hammers Saturday night was another step in their journey to bring professional soccer to the Magic City. The club was founded in 2013 and after playing friendlies over the last couple of years, the club was accepted into the National Premier Soccer League, and is part of the Southeast Conference along with Chattanooga FC, Memphis City FC, Nashville FC, Knoxville Force and New Orleans Jesters.

2 chattahooligans gathering

May 14, 2016 was their first ever NPSL game and the Hammers hosted Chattanooga FC. CFC is one of the most successful teams in the NPSL, consistently challenging for conference and league titles. On top of that, they are supported by the Chattahooligans, a group that has gained a reputation for vocal, entertaining and passionate support and must be seen to be believed.

I touched based with the Magic City Brigade, the supporters group of the Hammers, in the days leading up to the match and got the low down on the group and the tailgate. My wife and I made our way to Sicard Hollow Athletic Complex, which is a really nice facility but not the easiest to find. Tucked away in a corner of Vestavia Hills, make sure you bring your map app/device on your trip.

tifo

shac 1

mcb 1

shac 2

The complex is quite nice with several pro turf fields. Fans are allowed to sit on a hill behind one of the goals, which is further supplemented by a walkway so that fans can stand and watch the game from a higher vantage point. Most fans sat in the stands along one side of the field and were filled with fans of all ages and bracketed by the two supporters groups. A stand alone press box allows the media an excellent view of everything and being relatively close to the action.

forrest

(Pic courtesy of Forrest Collins)

Forrest Collins, founder and President of MCB, introduced himself once we arrived. After trading scarves, we had a quick chat ahead of the match. Everyone made their way to the field and MCB was in fine voice. Several of their number lead the cheers along with drums and a cowbell.  Small in number, they make up for it in noise and enthusiasm.

As for the match itself, Chattanooga really showed their experience. CFC took advantage of a corner midway through the first half to go up 1-0 and that’s all they needed. Hartley was rarely challenged goal as the Hammers had a difficult time finding much success in the final third. Birmingham certainly has some weapons and I thought #7 Karl Chester and #17 Kevin Francis could cause problems for future opponents. CFC were well organized and very clear and how they wanted to attack and consistently got into good positions but the Hammers’ rearguard held firm.

3 flag 1

4 flag 2

In the end, the Hammers did not get the perfect ending but gave a good account of themselves and look to have a solid foundation from which to build.

Additional Resources

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Check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.

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