It's Game Day.
It's here. After 9 long weeks, our boys in blue and green return home bruised and battered. We've faced it all to start the season, and guess what? We've lost. A lot. But days like these are far to rare to cheapen with worries from a past life. Today, Athletic does not take the field with 11 players, they take the field with 11k. All of us. 10k+ supporters wearing our colors, gritting our teeth, and chanting our songs can have an impact tonight. Who's got it better than us, right? Truly, this is our night and Hartford's night. We, the fans, can not only help our players push forward tonight, but can also force our city and state to recognize that we aren't just a bunch of dreamers with a bad team. How we show up tonight is a message to all the haters and doubters that when we sing "We Love You Hartford" we mean it.
The great Roger Bennett of Men in Blazers once said something truly profound that has resonated with me as a fan ever since. Bennett, in talking about his own childhood fandom noted:
"I remember whatever fear or loathing that may have taken hold of us as fans throughout the week all seemed to evaporate on match day when someone from the grand stand would stand up as the ball was about to be kicked and bellow "GET BEHIND THE LADS!""
My ask to all supporters today is to suspend your fear, your loathing, your frustration with how this season has started, and simply get behind the lads. They need us.
This isn't a full match preview, but briefly I'd like to talk about our opponents. As has been the case all year, they are likely bigger, faster, stronger, more experienced, and on paper they’re probably just better. And they know it too. But, I’ll tell you something that they and all the doubters don’t know. They don’t know our heart. I do. I’ve seen it. Everyone from Hooker to TK's, to City Steam, from Danbury to Hartford, from Alex Dixon to the last man on the bench has shown it to me. These fans, this team, and every member of this organization has shown to this community just what they have beating inside their chests. When we take that field on Saturday, we’ve gotta lay that heart on the line. From the souls of our feet, with every ounce of blood we’ve got in our bodies, we have to lay it on the line until the final whistle blows. And if we do that, if for 90 short minutes we play fast, cheer loud, and make tonight one of the best nights of our lives, we cannot lose. We may be behind on the scoreboard at the end of the game but if we show up like that we cannot be defeated. Can’t wait.