Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. You know where that is right? Hop on IH-35 and head north. For 37 Hours.
Or United Airlines will kindly fly you there for $574.40. While we’d all love to take one of these routes, (the latter, I’m assuming) we can’t all make it up there to bask in the Canadian air for 90 minutes of glorious football. No worries, I’ll get you there in a 3 minute read. Deal?
FC Edmonton was founded in 2010. Shortly after, 4 kindly gents, members of The Voyageurs (Canadian National Team Supporters) walked into a pub. Oh, you’ve heard that one? Well, what transpired was the ESG, Edmonton Supporter’s Group.
Two years later, the ESG are serious business. They are a passionate, tight-knit group of supporters who love their team.
On any given match day, you’ll find flags, scarves, drums, and of course, voices being lifted to push FC Edmonton forward. Numbers vary from game to game; “as few as 3 and as many as 15. [The ESG Section] probably averaged around 10 though.” This may seem odd, but as one supporter told me, not all of the ESG sits stands together. They’re o.k. with that, though. “It is true. There are people who are ESG that have never stood with us, but are ESG none the less. I like it that way. We can keep the snobbery down, unless it comes to us.” Another ESG’er noted that he sits with the “grumpy old men” at midfield to “yell at the ref and yell for the boys to put some work in.” Having recently adopted culture like that of the famed Timbers Army, ESG is quite content with having a loose confederation of membership. They do not have a paid membership. This is similar to how the Timbers Army is more of a “come chant and sing with us, and you’re in” atmosphere. (Although Timbers Army do have a paid sector as well called the 107ist.) North American football would do well to adopt more of this mindset. Be a part of something bigger than oneself, and contribute. If you’re reading this, chances are, you know this feeling.
Like The Crocketteers, ESG and FC Edmonton do not have a venue to call their own. They occupy the general admission section of Foote Field, a multi-purpose facility on the campus of the University of Alberta. ESG have been informed by FC Edmonton that they will be allowed a new area of the stadium, the Beer Garden. (Cue Hallelujah Chorus).
Small numbers don’t necessarily equate to small ideas. ESG have great ideas this season for banners, streamers, and tifo. A special tifo-version of the Canadian Flag is being planned for Canada Day (July 1) ESG are also in the process of gathering local support and sponsors to keep their efforts alive and grow in numbers. Besides indulging their own needs for football, ESG are helping others in huge ways. They contribute to a program called Kick it Again, which seeks to get “good condition equipment into the hands of low income families who want their kids to play.” If that weren’t enough, ESG have partnered with Dark Clouds, a supporter’s group of Minnesota Stars FC, also of the NASL. Each group raised funds to support victims of natural disasters of the other groups’ city. Dark Clouds raised money for victims of the Slave Lake Fires, while ESG pooled funds to aid those affected by the tornado which ripped through Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Conversations with ESG members will no doubt bring smiles to faces of football fans. From “telling Puerto Rico [Islanders] where they can go, and what they could do when they get there,” to learning about the unofficial FC Edmonton Mascot, “Rally Rabbit,” ESG has a lot going for them. Quality people north of the border, they are. Maybe we’ll cross paths with the ESG sometime this season and have a beer together after the Scorpions have dealt with FC Edmonton.
If this is the case, you’ll have something to chat about, eh?