When I was young, I can recall having a somewhat U-shaped relationship with Tony the Peanut man. In my younger formative years, I was fascinated by the man – mainly because he was loud, and had a funny hat, although I had no real sense of what he actually represented. As I aged ungracefully into adolescence, Tony became background noise and my appreciation for this Charleston icon dwindled, only returning with fervor when I regained my sense of Lowcountry pride and stopped being a miserable teenager.
I tell you this because my relationship with Tony and those boiled, roasted, stewed and toasted peanuts follows a similar curve as my relationship with the Battery… and I don’t think I’m alone.
The Battery v Richmond Kickers
In all my years of black and yellow lovin’, I have to admit that on the spectrum of one to Nick Hornby, I have averaged somewhere between a two and a seven, with two being the period of angsty teen-hood and my overseas pilgrimage.
On Tuesday night, as the players battled their way to a mediocre tie, I returned to my status as Level 7 Fan. I imagined myself as a kid again, completely devoted to the sport of soccer, and entirely entranced by both the grown up allure of being at a sports game and the potential for playground congregations at the far end of the west stands.
As one local family, the Frankos, put it, it’s a good experience for the kids, especially “to teach them about the game.” Both Bryce and Haley Franko play soccer, and were at the Battery game on Tuesday night. As a family, it’s easy to get to, fun for the whole group, and as the young player himself said in perfect terms with pretzel in hand, “I like to watch them play soccer.” Having once been a young’un myself, I know exactly what he means. I loved the Battery because it was fun, and while perhaps not committed blood and soul to the Battery brand, I was sure attached to the ‘Baud and the cotton candy and the cool grown ups in black and yellow who did exactly what I loved to do – play soccer.
The Battery v Arizona
Content that I had returned to adequate fandomwith Tuesday night’s match, I was ready swoop to Fever Pitch standards in my love of the Battery, and Saturday night’s match-up against Arizona United was the perfect venue.
By the time 7:30 kickoff rolled around, section E1 was filled with the American Outlaws and Regiment, who far surpass the Level 7’s with a black and yellow parade of Hornby-esque devotion. I was among them, ready to level-up.
Now, it’s easy to find yourself feeling like an outsider in first-time situations, but E1 of the ‘Baud clearly missed that social standard memo and welcomed all newcomers and stragglers into the melee with open arms. Maybe it was the mix of company, deceptively uniformed in Battery colors which only superficially covered a rainbow of different characters, backgrounds, ages, and history. Maybe it was the common love of the game. In any case, with chant sheet in hand (don’t worry guys, there’s a lot of repeating so everyone can chant along) and carefully positioned to avoid a waving flag to the face, I was ready to belt my loyalty to the beat of the drum.
We love you, we love you, we love you
And where you go we’ll follow, we’ll follow we’ll follow
Because we support the BATTERY, the BATTERY, the BATTERY
Cheer the Battery, shame the ref, shun the opposition – anything went in E1 as long as the voices were heard carrying the strong message that this is OUR team, so go back to Arizona.
Come on Battery score a goal
It’s really, really simple
Put the ball into the net and
We’ll go stupid mental
We sang, and they scored.
As Dane Kelly slotted the ball past the Arizona keeper, you knew it wasn’t really you, or the guy next to you, or in fact the entire crowd’s enunciated devotion that made the ball roll into the net. But for a moment you couldn’t help but believe it was.
We believed, and they won.
The 2-0 victory marked a turning point in both fan and player morale, as well as the team’s playoff potential. We’re on the up-curve again, and whether it’s for the love of boiled peanuts and playgrounds or Falvey’s up-field runs, the black and yellow army is marching on stronger than ever.
I’m Charleston til I die,
I’m Charleston til I die,
I know I am, I’m sure I am
I’m Charleston til I die