Fans of the game
This is the lingering fear of any Cleveland fan wandering into Nordecke, the rabid cheering section of the Columbus Crew: You have not suffered, you do not belong.
Following the Browns, Indians or Cavaliers is a merit badge earned through tears, broken hearts and disillusionment, privy only to those who have come close and failed. Only through pain can one enjoy a team reborn. This is what we hold true. This is all we've got.
Crew fans, though, don't really care about drama as they rock the stadium's northeast corner. Together, long- and first-time fans embrace, rattle bleachers and jump for joy. You, novice hooligan, are welcome.
Here are a few tips for blending in.
At Nordecke, goals, slide tackles and yellow cards to opponents are soundtracked by the world's most powerful jug band. In addition to cheering, fans bang drums, swing noisemakers and blow long, plastic horns. If you have these things, bring them. Also consider: kazoos, thunder sticks, maracas.
Diehard crew fans look a lot like bumblebees because of the team colors, black and gold. If you don't have yellow or gold, wear anything black in your wardrobe. Dark hues were very effective during "The Blackout" Oct. 4 against the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Crew wowed what seemed a black hole with a 1-0 victory.
Do your homework
The Hudson Street Hooligans, Crew Union, La Turbina Amarilla and other close-knit fan collectives are amazingly well-versed on the team's history, roster, dynamics and strategy. You should be able to spot some of the primary players: Eddie Gaven, Robbie Rogers, Frankie Hejduk, Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Moreno. Their names will be chanted endlessly.
Sing along, loudly
Speaking of chants, Crew fans often cheer in unison, via pop tunes with lyrics changed to support Columbus. I was lost at my first home game Sept. 18 against New York Red Bulls. Some songs to get to know include: