In the last of our spotlight looks into the supporters groups in Vancouver, is Rain City Brigade. Founded in 2010, to coincide with the Caps entry into MLS, a group of friends decided to try their own thing, setting up shop in 246, just to the right (if you’re looking at the field) to the Vancouver Southsiders. Known for their black attire, they can now be found in 201, with the tunnel to their right, and the Curva Collective a few sections over.
For this piece, we got the input from 2 different RCB members, Adrian Matangi and Steve Davie. I have selectively chosen the answers and indicated with their initials as to who’s response I’m using.
1)How long have you been a supporter?
SD: It took me a while to get out to the games here, but got involved with RCB in 2011
AM: I had tickets to USL matches at Swangard for '09 and '10, but I wasn't a 'supporter' then. I think I first joined a supporters group after the inaugural MLS season had begun. I can't recall for certain, but I probably purchased a Southsiders membership at some point that season. I was in section 253 at the time, which is where I spent the second half of 2011, and 2012. I maintained that group membership until this year... which reminds me, I do want to renew that, and must get around to it. I joined Rain City Brigade for the 2013 season. I could be wrong about that too though.
2)What factors played a role in you joining the group you did and what keeps you coming back?
SD: I was always approached to come to the games, good friends of mine formed RCB and it just fired up from then. The great camaraderie of the ever growing group of friends that enjoy following the Caps.
AM: Why did I join RCB...? Hmmm... their good looks and snappy dress code were an immediate attractant
Anyway, I had heard that they were moving from their original section into 201. When that happened, I was extremely into the idea of having a full supporters section. They looked like interesting people, and I saw a huge gap between the Southsiders and Curva Collective, so I decided to join RCB as they moved into that gap. The RCB crew is a lot of fun to hang out with. I look forward to every game day.
3)How did RCB come to be?
SD: After years with the Southsiders, a group of firiends decided to do their own thing, be the people they wanted to be and do game day the way that excited them.
3a)What aspect do you think RCB brings to the supporters landscape?
SD: We really do make the game day a group event. From start to finish, it’s about a great social outing, full of individuals passion for the team, the game. No rules, enjoy it the way that makes you love it.
AM: Black. Personality. Colourful language. Smiles. Seriously, I like to think of RCB as a social club comprised of people who love soccer and watching the Whitecaps. A couple of seasons back we toyed with the drumming, flags, repetitive chanting, and so-forth, like the other groups do... it wasn't really our thing. I think we bring an option for people to be part of something fun at a Whitecaps, without having to commit to activities they may not truly be enthused about. You can get that over in the Southside too though.
4)What do you find to be most rewarding about being a supporter?
SD: It's a massive family, the games the team, the Officiating everything promotes a passion and a conversation. You feel you really bring something into the stadium with you when your charged up and there on game day.
AM: I'm a passionate person. I might even be a little bit on the extreme side... definitely a bit over-the-top. That pretty-much says it all. Football support has helped quench that matter, in past.
5)Are there any aspects of being a supporter that you find to be tedious?
SD: Same old same old for season after season! That's a deep question that needs more space.
AM: Ha! Yes. Most of that is a fairly unique consequence of my own personality though. I tend to over-do everything. In fact, I'm not certain I understand the concept of moderation, but I do understand getting burn-out. I burn-out quite spectacularly.
Basically, I've stepped back from supporter-related activities somewhat, within the last season or so. I went too deep. There were a couple of issues that arose and then collided, in my case.
I became heavily active in soccer supporter culture in Vancouver. Too active. Way too active, given my concurrent feelings about MLS. I had a great time though. I participated in painting quite a bit of tifo with Curva Collective, because they're friends of mine, as you know. You'll recall the joint piece RCB and Curva created for a Cascadia Cup match against Seattle that season, I helped conceive and manage the creation of that project, I literally did nothing else for over a week. As well, I took it upon myself to arrange all the smoke that RCB would bring to the pre-match marches, and I took the risk of introducing flares to the march for the playoff game against Portland. I was travelling for away games, driving by myself, as far away as southern California. I was even attending USL games on the road, in LA and Orange County. I helped to paint protest tifo when DC United mis-treated members of the District Ultras... can't even recall why that happened. Anyway, at that time I was basically actively participating in or with all three supporter groups in one way or another, and I was having a great time. I got involved in supporting Canada as well. That big smoke-out on the Canada vs Mexico march was my job on that day.
So, I was having a great time, going to all the MLS and USL games, as well as some residency squad games, and travelling. But all that fun and passion became tempered by my negative view of North American soccer, and I simply lost interest. For a while I got some of that enthusiasm back when I helped to create Umbrella Ultras, the Vancouver United amateur club supporters group, which has sort of fizzled away for the time being.
6)Do you join Caps on Tour? If so, where you been?
AM: Yes. As I just said, I've done a few tours. To list them: Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake, San Jose, and Los Angeles for MLS games. And I've been to Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and Orange County for USL games. Southern California is convenient for me though, because I go down there to visit family too.
SD: I've only been down to Cascadia games in Seattle and Portland.
6a)Would you go back and why?
SD: Will always go back when I get the chance!
AM: All those venues are worthwhile trips for Caps on Tour enthusiasts. I especially like Salt Lake, although the town shuts down at early o'clock. San Jose was fun. Portland is far-and-away the best trip, it's not even a close contest.
7)Do you think smoke would enhance or detract from your experience as a supporter?
SD: Enhances the marches! Would definitely enhance at stadium in my mind. BC place would never do it though
AM: Smoke has been tested in BC Place. I know this because I was the one who sparked it. It's glorious. It floats over the pitch and hovers there, slightly below the upper deck, without leaving. People would get upset about it though, I have no doubts about that. I'm not in the business of inconveniencing others, is one way I'd phrase my response.
8)What role do you think the league and front office the club should play in dictating what is acceptable behaviour for supporters, and how far outside the stadium gates do you think that extends?
SD: They can lay down requested protocol but at the end of the day you can't dictate passion. It can't really extend outside, we as individuals should be able to promote ourselves in a good light for gaining respect from other clubs and league.
AM: This is a loaded question. I know for a fact that I should have been ejected a number of times myself, particularly on one trip to Seattle.
Honestly, I used to have an opinion about this, and I'm fairly pro personal liberty, but I haven't thought about this in a while. I'd say that when we're on stadium grounds, with a ticket for a Whitecaps match, we've probably agreed to terms and conditions. I don't know what those terms and conditions might be, but... never mind, I'm just making things up as I go now. Off the stadium grounds, my actions are governed by the laws of the land, not by MLS.
9)Is the leadership of your supporters group open to suggestions, even if it flies in the face of their current thought process?
AM: Rain City Brigade has no rules, at least none that I'm aware of. All are welcome, and all ideas and initiatives are considered. Things happen on game day by accident. When do we leave the pub for the game? That's an arbitrary decision arrived at by whoever thinks of it first, and it could even be 'the new guy' who makes that determination. Step up, new guy!
10)Would you ever considering switching groups, why or why not?
AM: No. I like the people I'm with, and I have no interest in changing groups. I will be renewing my Southsiders membership though--remind me--because they're the folks who take care of Vancouver's responsibilities vis-a-vis the Cascadia Cup. That's important, by the way. I think so, anyway.
SD: I enjoy the group I share my game day experience with. I like the way do the whole process each game day, before, during and after. We are all close enough to take bits from each group but I don't see the need to change or leave what I have.
11)If you could improve your own supporters group, what would you do and how would you go about it?
SD: We aren't the best organized group for what the club likes to see (getting to stadium early, conforming to protocol) we don't have a great sounding presence every game that would be great to change but it's a social group, when the play on the field lights a fire, we are there and I don't just mean goals!
AM: Honestly, if you had asked me this in 2015 the answer would have been something along the lines of, I wish we could get more participation going in the unified active support. However, I'm more interested in having fun now, and less interested in dogmatically singing songs for a team in a corporate intramural football league that I don't really like. Not that you can actually call that a league... woah, politics again. Where did that come from? Seriously though, I'm all about the good times with friends now.
12)Would you join forces with one or both of the other supporters groups to improve the atmosphere inside BC Place?
SD: We try and try for this every season. The stadium itself is what's letting us down in my opinion.
AM: Good luck to those who want a more 'football' atmosphere, I truly do not judge their efforts, but I'm not interested in expending more effort or coin on MLS than I already do by purchasing a ticket and some beer.
13)Does it bother you if someone, through no fault of their own, thinks you’re a Southsider?
SD: No. That's all people who aren't fans know as far as the WhiteCaps go, you are bound to be asked if you’re a Southsiders but that just starts up a conversation that educates people on who and what we are.
AM: Not in the slightest bit, no.
I hope you enjoyed this intriguing look into Rain City Brigade.