Mild-mannered Midwestern hooliganism from the Capitol City Supporters.
If you hear chanting, singing and drumming coming from Breese Stevens Field this summer, it’s a good bet the Madison 56ers are playing soccer there.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t know much about the players on this amateur-level team founded a decade ago at the Princeton Club as the Princeton 56ers. Coach Jim Launder understands. “A lot of times, I’m meeting players for the first time when they get suited up for the game,” he says.
That’s the way things operate in the ever-changing National Premier Soccer League. Madison’s roster features guys who have played pro soccer overseas, including Romanian forward Lucian Parvu, and locals who’ve built a name for themselves, such as former Middleton High School standout Jack Hagstrom.
With players ranging in age from late teens to early 30s, hailing from England, Venezuela and, um, Watertown — 11 countries in all this season — the 56ers opened the season at home last Wednesday night with a 3-2 win over the Milwaukee Bavarians in front of a small and chilly but enthusiastic crowd.
The 56ers have won NPSL’s Midwest Division four times since 2006. This year, the top four teams in the crowded 13-team division will meet in a playoff, and the winning team will qualify for the national semifinals.
The NPSL 56ers are part of the Madison 56ers Soccer Club, in existence since 1956 and recognized as one of Wisconsin’s pioneering soccer organizations. The club has won numerous state and national championships at the men’s, women’s and youth levels. (The 56ers women’s team, which began in 2010 and plays in the Women’s Premier Soccer League, is taking a break in 2015 to reorganize, according to the 56ers website.)
New at this year’s home NPSL matches are the Capitol City Supporters, a boisterous group of fans that gather in “La Curva,” the terraced section at the northwest corner of Breese Stevens, to bang drums, sing chants and create a lively European-style atmosphere. Led by a former member of the league’s most famous supporters club, Detroit City FC’s Northern Guard, the Capitol City Supporters are a valuable addition to the game-day experience. Max Woxland, the 56ers’ volunteer marketing/outreach coordinator and member of the Supporters, thinks these new boosters will bring in new fans: “I expect attendance in the Supporters section to tick up.”
The next home game is Friday, May 29, against Minnesota United. Single-game tickets cost $8, and children under 14 are admitted free.