The Rust Belt Derby was a regional derby created by the supporters clubs of Detroit City (The Northern Guard), FC Buffalo (The Situation Room), and A.F.C. Cleveland (6th City Syndicate). It is a great competition that fosters a real supporter culture and engages the communities these teams are located in.
Initially, I was going to post about how I thought that the Erie Admirals and Greater Binghamton FC ought to be considered for this trophy; however, after reading an excellent article by Daniel Casey on footy culture in America (see link below) I have come to a different conclusion.
You see, Casey is right. The talking heads of Major League Soccer have attempted to create certain faux rivalries as a way to engage fans and drive consumption of a product, MLS. But because these rivalries have no deeper roots, they are essentially meaningless. Casey points to the Brimstone Cup as an example; the only reason Dallas and Chicago vie for the ‘Brimstone Cup’ is because of the flame related nature of these two teams names (Chicago Fire and Dallas Burn = although Dallas has since dropped the Burn moniker in favor of the simpler FC Dallas title, a fact which makes the persistence of this competition all the more ridiculous).
So, why should Greater Binghamton and Erie be allowed to participate in the Rust Belt Derby? Some might argue they ought to automatically qualify because of their status as rust belt cities. However, I believe that this status must be earned. It wasn’t the NPSL or the teams executives who cooked up the Derby as a cheap publicity stunt. It was the fans, the ardent supporters of Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo that collaborated to give these games meaning.
In that light, Erie and Binghamton have a long way to go, though I hope for my part that we we will soon see the Parlor City Supporters clamoring for the Upstate Cup with Buffalo. In the meantime, check out the supporters websites of the 6th City Syndicate, The Norther Guard, and The Situation Room – they are great examples of top notch American supporters clubs on a grass roots level.