I often catch myself daydreaming of how I could ever afford a worldwide football holiday visiting as many teams and stadiums as possible, a part of that football holiday I’d include a visit to see the New York Redbulls whose team at one time or another have boasted players like Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, Mike Petke, Tim Howard, Roberto Donadoni, Juan Pablo Angel and Clint Mathis.
Another key part of the New York Redbulls is a devoted and strong army, The Garden State Ultras who appear to have European ultra influence with an American punk attitude.
I was amazed when I discovered GSU, A group of Americans (with euro influence) in Balaclavas, Flares, chanting. I love the ‘FUCK YOU!’ attitude of The Garden State Ultras, its Punk meets football, a care free attitude of friends meeting with the same common goal, to sing and party for your team, hopeful for a Major League Soccer Trophy, GSU appeared to be a family, it was infections and I wanted to learn more about The Garden State Ultras.
My name is Wyatt, and I am one of two leaders of the Garden State Ultras.
1, How was the GSU Formed?
Garden State Ultras (GSU) started in 2005 during the time when the team was called New York Metrostars. It started off as a small group of guys from the New York/New Jersey punk, ska and hardcore music scene. It was originally started by Nuno, a Portuguese immigrant who wanted to bring a bit of his football culture to the club. Currently the club is ran by Chris and I (Wyatt), in which we come from Croatian and Italian backgrounds. Once we took over the club we really tried to transform the club into a group that’s extremely passionate and vocal either on the streets or in the stands. We try to use a European style in standing, jumping, singing for the full 90 minutes, with incorporating a lot of flags, smoke, and choreography in the stands. We do not try to imitate everything European ultras do, but we are definitely influenced by it since a lot of our members are from European immigrant background.
2, What is expected from the GSU members once amongst the active support?
Our members are expected to give all of their energy and passion on match day, and be active in the group and in the stands. We are a family, and look out for each other, so being a member of the group does not stop once match day is over. There is a probation period in joining the group, you can not just show up and join GSU. We want to make sure that new potential members are a good fit for the group, and that they want to be a part of this family. We believe in a quality over quantity model for the club.
3, has GSU grown? by how much?
GSU has been a steady 100 members the past few years. We are the smallest, but the loudest and strongest in the Southward, which is the south stand in our stadium, that includes all 3 supporter groups. We are expecting to really grow this coming season, with a lot of possible new recruits.
We are trying to get the word out of our group to people all over the New York/New Jersey area. We throw parties and punk/hardcore shows to try and get people interested and involved. We encourage people that have heard of the group to contact us, come to our pub/clubhouse on match days, and join us in the stands.
5, what’s a New York Derby like?
The derby is obviously very new here, kind of similar to the Sydney derby in age. It definitely has intensified the city and given us a true local derby. This new New York club that we call “the smurfs” are definitely creating something unique in the city and in the league when it comes to a fierce derby. During the derby, we shut down parts of Manhattan’s busy streets and take over the NYC Subway trains. On derby days, the city is definitely a sea of red and blue.
6, is there violence between supporter groups within the MLS?
There can be violence here, most of it is small incidents. We are not a hooligan group, nor do we condone violence, but if we are attacked or threatened we won’t back down. There have been incidents with our city rivals. There is a small group associated with NYCFC that we have had issues with in the past that are definitely more far “right,” to go as far as nazi saluting in the stands and on the streets. We do not condone or tolerate action like this and we do not want it in our community. The clashes that were written up or seen abroad are more than just two rival teams going at it. We try to keep GSU non political, but we will also not tolerate hatred or discrimination in our city or community.
We can kind of careless, these teams are far from us for any type of real rivalry. But it is a bit ridiculous how many clubs are getting introduced into this league.
8, Where do you see the MLS in 10 years?
Hopefully a promotion/relegation system due to all the new expansion of MLS and lower league clubs in North America. Other than that, we are more focused on our group than the league.
9, what’s a normal game day like for GSU member?
Normal match day for our members, is a lot of drinking and maybe other types of substances. We have organized corteos to the stadium where we light off tons of pyro and take over the streets. In the stands, it’s singing, jumping, waving flags, and giving your all for the players on the pitch.
10, Do you mind the “RedBull’ ownership over your team? does it affect anything? do you like Redbull’s ownership? does it work for your club?
As a group and personally we hate our ownership. We do not take money from the club to help our group out, unlike the other supporter groups that are connected with the team. We do not do interviews with Red Bull corporate. We do not sing Red Bull in our chants, everything is sung with New York. We do not wear Red Bull jerseys or clothing. We are here to watch our local football, to support our community, and create an atmosphere and scene that does not exist here. If we had a promotion/relegation system and the money to buy our own club, we would. But here in America it’s hard to do those things just yet.