Engine Company: America’s Hat – A Tale of Chicago’s Evil Canadian Twin
Seeing The Men in Red play at home is really just half the fun, but not all Fire fans are able to see them anywhere else. To experience the joys of an Away Game by proxy, OTF contributor Jacob Peters provides us some background on Fire supporter group history on-the-road, established rivalries, and some footnotes on how to effectively criticize, troll, and generally enjoy Fire away games.
Sing in full voice. Hate with reason…
Toronto is kind of like an alternate reality Chicago. One in which we didn’t tear out our Streetcars in the 50s, decided to randomly insert “u’s” into our words unnecessarily, expanded Meigs Field into a discount airline hub, and never built the elevated portions of the “L”. It’s also an alternate reality in which the Chicago Fire built a stadium downtown adjacent to McCormick Place (this guy’s still holding onto that dream), and then we expanded it with an epic roof.
Toyota Park is nice, but this…drool
The bus trips to Toronto are legendary. From collectively booking a huge chunk of spaces in a hostel (or staying up all night instead to avoid paying for a hotel), to our bus driver being turned away at the border because she was wanted for a decades old crime in Ontario (we still made it to the match on time). Stories abound out of this trip, and we like to think it’s because there’s something inherently epic about dueling your doppelganger.
This isn’t a knock against the bus trips to Kansas City (mark your calendars for Basura Kansas, July 29th), or our invasions of the worst city in Ohio (2017 Round 2 on August 12th) — every bus trip is about forming bonds of friendship amongst your fellow supporters. What differs about Toronto trips is that we stay overnight, their money is partly see-through, and the liquor laws are just different enough to make things interesting. It’s a trip worth taking, especially if the schedule allows for a bus to run next year.
Burns — A Boring Name… and Stop Copying our Colo
And now we make fun of our opposition’s brand: Toronto FC is basic AF, but their brand isn’t offensively bad. It’s just frustrating that the best nickname their fans could muster is “Reds,” but that might be because Chicago was already were using “Men in Red” and “Maquina Roja.”
While Atlanta is the poster child for manufactured history this year, in 2007 TFC held that honor. This scarf isn’t as relevant as it once was, but it isn’t completely irrelevant… which is saying something, since it’s been around for about a decade.
Additionally, for the past two years their away jersey looks like they just painted a small blue stripe over the 2008-2009 Chicago Fire away kit and changed the sponsor.
We get that we are the ones who started making the doppelganger jokes but it looks like the designers over at Adidas got their precedent images mixed up because Toronto was the team with grey away kits and Chicago was the team with the big red stripe across our fronts in 2009. We get it: Toronto wants be a dynasty so they are copying things we did ten years ago. However, they should remember that they haven’t won anything of value other than the
Nutrilite Pyramid Scheme Amway Canadian Championship — a tournament of five teams (like the Canadian version of the Carolina Challenge Cup Desert Diamond Cup Simple Invitational).
Sound of Sirens — Fire chants for Toronto:
The bus trip to Toronto last year resulted in a lot of chants specific to the day. So we won’t be suggesting anyone reprise the “We Love Moms” chant without the context that made it appropriate banter.
- Instead, take that scarf off (pictured above) and yell the chant that it was inspired by:
- “F*#k off Toronto FC, You ain’t got no history, Second Class City, Third Class Team, Fourth Class Fans and a S#!+ Country!”
- Or just chant repeatedly “America’s Hat, America’s Hat…”
Watch Commander — Why You Should Tune In and Where to Watch the Game:
We completed a three game home stand and took seven points out of a possible nine. Now we are heading into three road matches against teams that have been ruthless at home the previous two years. Whether we regress to the mean or rewrite our narrative, it all starts Friday night.
Our normal bus to Toronto did not run this year because Friday evening games do not lend themselves to international bus convoys. You’re likely not one of the dozen or so who took of Friday to fly into Billy Bishop Airport and walk to BMO Field. So, consider getting out to a bar and watching with some fellow Fire fans. There are more options than ever—from official parties and established groups to growing partnerships and newfound startups.
“Official” Watch Parties
- Schubas on Belmont/Southport. The “official” Section 8 Chicago watch party is going to be here this week, the same place the ISA board hold their meetings on the first Tuesday of every month. There will be a $4 surprise draft special.
- Heineken Pub 97 at the Private Bank Fire Pitch (Talman just north of Addison). The Andell Holdings-owned Fire-branded complex will be hosting a watch party like they have been every game with $4 Heineken drafts and $7 Fire-Ritas. So if you love corporate cross-brand synergy, it’s a nice place to watch the game. Also great if you or one of your kids or family members have a rec soccer game on one of the adjacent fields that day.
Supporter Group Initiatives
- Go Tavern on Armitage just east of Kedzie. It is a “slashie” (half bar, half liquor store), it has 24 drafts ranging from Bud to the rarest beer that Pipeworks or Off Color, both a few blocks away, have recently released. It is the neighborhood Fire bar (and Pub to Pitch Partner) for Logan Square and if you befriend one of the bartenders they do a dollar “depressed goalie” shot of Fireball every time the Fire score. This week Logan’s Squares will be hosting a Pupusa Watch Party in honor of Arturo Alvarez’s Salvadoran heritage, with the wonderful traditional stuffed tortillas supplied by Logan Square’s own El Guanaco.
- Pub OK Irving Park Rd/Major Ave in Portage Park. A Polish neighborhood corner bar with booths & bar food befitting of this part of town. An emerging supporters group “Nation of Fire” is hosting a watch party for northwest side fans. They will have a raffle and chat about the Men in Red, while testing the waters for this as a potential new Fire bar.
- North (Lakeview, North Center, Roscoe, Lakeview)
- AJ Hudson’s at Grace/Ashland (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- The Globe Pub near the Irving Park Brown Line just east of Damen (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- The Atlantic Bar on Lincoln/Winnemac (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- after publication we found out the “official Banter Buddies watch party” will be at The Atlantic this week. <insert banter etc>
- Northwest (Wicker/Bucktown/Ukie)
- Cleo’s just east of Damen on Chicago (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- City (River North, Loop, South Loop)
- Fado on Grand/Clark (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- Galway Arms on Clark/Arlington (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- Kroll’s on 18th/Michigan (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- La Birreria on the 2nd floor of Eataly at Ohio/Wabash
- The Outer Limits
- Rock Island Public House in Blue Island, 13328 Old Western Ave
- North (Lakeview, North Center, Roscoe, Lakeview)
If you live far north, south, or west and want to find a watch party near you, just ask around online or in the parking lot before games until you find some fans who live somewhat nearby. Scope out some nearby bars, find a friendly owner and start getting together. That’s all it takes. That’s what I did with some friends in Logan Square, and not only is it how we got a Pub to Pitch location from our hood, it’s also how I met the editor of this here blog. Forge Fire Friendships, they’re hard to burn out.
(P.S. This is going to be my first watch party of the season, & of course that means the game has been changed to an obscure channel instead of the normal CSN or CSN+)
Kickoff 6:30pm CT on CSN+2 Chicago (also known as COZI TV, see link for channel listings)