“It’s certainly been a long time coming.”
That’s the sentiment Allan Gorman and the rest of the Hamilton-based supporters of the Barton St. Battalion share as they eagerly anticipate an electric outing for the Canadian Premier League’s first-ever match on Saturday. For Gorman, he’s been waiting for this day for over three years now.
“It all started with an article in the Hamilton Spectator when the news broke that the Canadian Premier League really was going to happen and that a Hamilton-based team would almost certainly be included,” Gorman told CanPL.ca, in the build-up to the inaugural fixture.
“It all began with five guys discussing the possibilities as a support group then and now we have over 500 people and are expecting section 112 (at Tim Hortons Field) to be completely sold out for the game against York9 FC.”
Gorman, who serves as president of the Barton St. Battalion, is orchestrating one hell of a crowd at Tim Hortons Field for Saturday’s tilt. Thanks to Forge and the City of Hamilton, Gorman and the rest of the Battalion were allowed to spend 16 hours working on a 60×40 foot ‘tifo’ (a large banner) that is sure to turn several heads on the day.
“It’s not just the ‘tifo’ that we’re bringing,” Gorman added. “We’ll have drums, a megaphone and all 627 of us crammed in the section will be singing loud and proud donning the Battalion’s scarfs and waving our flags.”
Gorman knows supporters groups can get rowdy and the Barton St. Battalion certainly have the energy for the occasion, but he doesn’t want their group to be known for crossing a line. It’s why the group has been clear of its desire to cultivate an inclusive culture, where racism, homophobia, and sexism have no place.
“We don’t just want to be a bunch of drunken idiots,” Gorman affirmed. “That’s not what this is about. We want to help out. We love being active in the community and enjoy paying it forward.”
The group will also take their party to other stadiums across Canada, with a road trip to Halifax for Forge’s first away fixture already in the works.
“It is something like a 19 and 1/2 hour drive there and back, but we are going to meet up with the rest of the support groups in the CPL who we have been in touch with,” Gorman teased.
He continued, with an eye to a return trip to visit their rivals in York Region: “We’re all in this together. Instead of a rivalry that could be created, we’re trying to build something and hope this league continues to grow. Our grandkids can begin the rivalry fights down the road.”
When talking about the next generation of fans, Gorman pauses. He is visibly moved by the idea that kids in Hamilton – including his own – will soon experience professional soccer through Forge FC and the Canadian Premier League.
“We all need this league to happen,” Gorman stated. “As a 12-year-old kid, usually in the county you have 2-3 more years and then your career is done, unless you’re an exceptional player. But now there is a chance for those kids and hopefully, by the time the world cup comes around in 2026 we have 12-14 teams.”
Allan’s own son has already accomplished that getting 8-9 of the Forge players to sign his flag and is already hoping he can get more signatures after Saturday’s match.
That is what the Canadian Premier League is all about. Making an impact in the community and inspiring the youth residing within it.
Allan Gorman and The Barton Street Battalion want to embody those values as well.
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