BY JOHN ACE (@JAceKopite16)
The growth of North American soccer over the past decade has fueled the rise of the dedicated soccer bar, and while South Carolina has been late to that party, Charleston and Columbia are catching up.
Charleston has a number of fan gatherings around, American Outlaws has a branch here now, but in terms of club football, most of the followings are for the bigger clubs in the Premier League. (Liverpool, Arsenal, and Tottenham all have Official Supporters Clubs in the state, while Manchester United and Everton plan on having Official Club status soon.)
However, the lack of a general news port could hurt the sport in the long run, so as a new regular piece, we decided to bring you news from the various supporters’ groups and clubs, starting with a simple introduction to each club.
Operating out of Charleston
Home Pub: Local 616 in Downtown Charleston
Official Website: http://charsenal.com/
Founded by Travis Poole in summer 2011, the idea for an Arsenal supporters’ club came to Travis while visiting the Emirates on his honeymoon in 2010.
Soon after the trip, he moved to Charleston where he “didn’t know a single Gooner”, and so he began pub hopping in search of his Gooner brethren.
Over time, Travis was able to find several of his compatriots, and it was Daniel Brock, whom he calls the “enthusiastic chanting maestro” of the group, who came up with the name “Charsenal”.
After awhile, they looked to expand the small group of Arsenal supporters and become an official supporters’ club branch through Arsenal America. Since their inception in 2011, the group has been steadily growing, thanks in part, Travis says, to Stan Sulkowski, the member who runs their Twitter and website.
Travis also attributes the more rapid growth of Charsenal over the past year or so to finding their own local pub, Local 616 which is owned by an Arsenal fan, where they meet every matchday.
Liverpool FC-Official Liverpool Supporters’ Club of South Carolina (OLSC-SC)
Operating from Charleston, but are a statewide organization
Home Pub: Madra Rua Park Circle, with Columbia based members meeting at The British Bulldog
Official Website: http://olsc-sc.org/
One of the first concentrated groups in Charleston, future inaugural chairman Jim Lynch first inquired about an official fan club to Liverpool Football Club in 2009, while the Madra Rua was still building its name as the areas’ first “Football orientated” bar.
Despite the parent club being unable to take Official fan club requests at the first time of asking, the future OLSC-SC was put on a waiting list for when the doors for new clubs would be reopened.
In 2012, Jim was contacted again to see if interest about the club was still on the table. Seizing the chance, Jim quickly got back to LFC, and proceedings were put in place for the gathering of fans, who had grown significantly since 2009, to become an official supporters branch.
Finally, in February 2013, the four year effort to become official was realized, and OLSC-SC was born.
The club held it’s first election shortly after, with their first Annual General Meeting being held in April of that year.
The club is fast approaching its one-year anniversary of official status, and can only grow as time goes on.
Tottenham Hotspur FC-South Carolina Spurs
Operating mostly out of Columbia and are statewide, with satellite groups in various SC cities including Charleston and Greenville
Currently alternating between Prohibition & Madra Rua Park Circle for matchdays, but are likely to stay at Madra Rua for the time being
Official Website: http://southcarolinaspurs.com/
SC Spurs were founded in September of 2012, getting official chartered status in October of the same year by six members, with four located in Columbia and two in Charleston.
They have currently 110 members statewide, with 28 of those in Charleston, as well as 65+ members being a part of their Facebook group who are yet to be members, including 12 in Charleston.
They remain as one of the biggest Spurs Supporters’ Clubs in America, despite being only a year and change old.
All of the founding members are South Carolina Gamecock fans, though they do have many members who are fans of other colleges in-state and nationwide, but attribute the rapid growth of their club to the connection between Tottenham’s Cockrel and USC’s Gamecock.
In addition to the Official Supporters Clubs in-state, we have a few unofficial fan gatherings in the Palmetto state, including:
Manchester United FC
Home Pub: Prohibition in Downtown Charleston
While Man United don’t have official status yet, they, along with Liverpool, were one of the earliest fan gatherings in Charleston, though they haven’t grown the way the fans of their bitter rivals have.
Despite this, they believe they have a big enough following to gain official status, and look to become official by the start of the 2014-15 BPL season.
Chelsea FC While relatively unorganized, Chelsea have left a mark at Madra Rua, Prohibition, as well as other places, and fans of the Blues aren’t hard to find in the state.
Known spots: The Cock & Bull in Columbia
This gathering are rumored to be trying to become official, and are based out of Columbia. I inquired about any details they may have on their formation, but failed to get a reply.
Now, this isn’t to say that these aren’t the only fans with a network in the Palmetto state. There are a spattering of other fans who support other teams. So, if you’re a fan of one of any team and are official, looking to become official, or just need some buddies to support your team with, please, don’t hesitate to leave a comment. The more the merrier!