Photo by Mike Edmonds
Are you ready for some “football?” The Super Bowl may be over, but what the Europeans refer to as football (or soccer in the States) is just getting started. The River City Red Army exudes all the hype, excitement, yelling and cheering that you would experience at a soccer match overseas. Hardcore fans of Richmond’s USL team — the Kickers — members of the Red Army can be seen in Section O of City Stadium, decked out in their best Kickers red, waving flags, rooting for the home team and even spouting a few jeers toward the opposing side.
What began as an idea spearheaded by former Richmond Kickers intern R.P. Kirkland has quickly grown into a feature of the local pro games. “The soccer supporters culture is really different from any other sport, and it’s great to see a semblance of that happening in a great city like Richmond,” Kirkland says.
The Red Army comprises showmen and women who do their best to rally support for the Kickers and make home games fun for everyone. In fact, the Red Army welcomes everyone — even the opposing team — to stop by its tent, located on a grassy bank of the parking lot, and get some food. Richard Hayes, Red Army member and community news editor for RVA News, says that some attendees have to travel a long way and it’s nice to support each other. “During the game, that’s a different story,” Hayes adds with a laugh.
The players, for their part, are glad to have the Red Army backing them, often stopping by Section O to shake hands, sign autographs and chat. Tom Meadows, a member of the group, says that a healthy dose of comedy is incorporated into the Red Army’s chants. “We have a lot of wise crackers. The opposing team’s benches are on our side … We give those guys a lot of jazz. You can see them trying not to smile, but they can’t help but laugh.”
The Red Army — our Richmonder of the Month — is open to everyone. The 2015 Richmond Kickers season begins March 28; the first opportunity to experience these rowdy rooters at their best is the April 4 home game against Louisville City FC.