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Kickers’ Home-Brewing Concoction

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 04/27/17, 5:01PM EDT


25th-anniversary tifo becomes part of Richmond lore

Photo courtesy James Loving / Richmond Kickers

The River City Red Army’s section at Richmond’s City Stadium has been well-marked by banners on the overhang at the front of the stand – “Mind if we Smoke?” – and the flags and banners that fly during the game.

For the opening game of the club’s 25th-anniversary season, the club and fans thought bigger.

Way bigger, in fact.

“We came up with an idea about doing five sections, so we could spread something across, spell something across,” said the RC Red Army’s Scott Fields.

More than 800 square feet of base material, 40 gallons of paint, and a number of hours’ work later by a team from the group, the major visual to come from the Kickers’ season on March 25 was one to behold.

Photo courtesy Pattie Anderson / Richmond Kickers

Fields was one of the designers of the project, finding materials from one of the countries – Germany – where tifos are a way of life for soccer fans. After getting the bases shipped over, and testing at home the paints and tapes that could be used, the next major hurdle was finding a space where such a big project could be undertaken.

As it turned out, the newly-created Väsen Brewing Company in the northern part of Richmond provided the solution.

“It kind of all started when we decided on Richmond to be the site of the brewery,” said VBC’s Nathen Winters. “We saw it was a huge soccer town. I didn’t know exactly how we were going to get involved. We just reached out to the Kickers, trying to get some events going, and even though we haven’t opened up here we had the space, so we figured we could get a little tifo event going.”

With a large enough lot next to the brewery to house the 160-square-foot banners – each large enough to cover a section of City Stadium – the Red Army’s designers and painters got to work.

“They’d never even done anything of this scale,” said Winters, “so we got together with their team and they laid everything out because they knew how they wanted it to look at the stadium, and we provided the space and a little beer on the side.”

After the work was completed, and safely stored for its big day, a Kickers-record 8,021 fans on hand saw the unveiling of the work. For Fields and his fellow supporters, the tifo was symbolic of how far the club has come, but also how true it has managed to remain to its history to allow it to grow and thrive in recent years.

“This is our local team,” said Fields. “They really get behind us as a supporters group. Plus we can meet the players. We know the players as friends. You look up to them, but they’re friends too. You can hang out with them, and we’re all part of a big family. It’s a really great feeling, it really is.”

Photo courtesy James Loving / Richmond Kickers

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