Barton Street Battalion make soccer for all a priority

On April 27, the Canadian Premier League held their inaugural game at Tim Hortons Field, when the hometown Forge FC took on provincial rival York 9.

For weeks leading into the game, the city was abuzz. The Forge FC colours – orange, black and white – were everywhere. It seemed as though you couldn’t go near downtown without seeing a billboard of Kyle Bekker and Kwame Awuah kicking a ball or posing.

But the excitement that had taken root across the city had less to do with the billboards and more to do with the hard work of a growing fanbase. On gameday, the Barton St. Batallion – Forge FC’s supporter’s group – could be heard throughout the entire stadium, loud and proud of their hometown squad.

The CPL made its debut this year as the home for Canadian soccer; a place where Canadian players can play regular games against competitive sides from across the country, expanding their skills for a potential move to the world’s bigger leagues or create a career right here at home. As well, many of these young players will be looking to impress Soccer Canada for a potential spot on the 2026 World Cup roster for Canada’s national team.

The Barton St. Battalion, formed in early 2016 in preparation for the 2019 season, has been hard at work over the past three years in recruiting members and expanding the city’s interest in soccer. They’ve met regularly to go over ideas and develop game-day songs and banners.

The group has made Section 112 of Tim Hortons’ Field a rambunctious place for people of all kinds to feel supported and welcome in the confines of a soccer community. Being a part of the Hamilton community is an important part of what the Barton St. Battalion are bringing to Hamilton; their 2018 Battalion Charity Cup raised $1,200 for Interval House of Hamilton.

And while supporters’ groups often can have negative connotations – many European supporter groups have become known for their vile hooliganism – groups like Hamilton’s Barton St. Battalion are spreading a message of positivity and inclusivity. The group has made it clear that they will not condone and allow racism, sexism or any other kind of discrimination within their ranks.

As part of Pride month, the group released a special edition Barton St. Battalion flag with the rainbow flag colours in the background and a clear message along the bottom of the scarf: All Are Welcome. The money raised by selling the scarves went to a local LGBTQ charity.

The group has only increased in popularity since the beginning of the season. Sitting anywhere near Section 112 means you’re in for a treat at the group works their way through a collection of clever, well-developed and often hilarious songs related to their love of Forge FC. And if you want to get in on the action, the group is always looking to grow their membership.

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