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Slaughterhouse Nineteen is one of the many Supporters Groups for NASL club Indy Eleven. Peter Evans talks about himself, the group, and all kinds of other soccer related stuff in our conversation.
So start things off by telling me a little bit about yourself, and how you fell in love with the beautiful game.
I'm Peter Evans, one of the founders of Slaughterhouse-19 and the head of gameday operations for Brickyard Battalion.
My first experiences with soccer started with the World Cup in 1994. It was my first time getting to see the game played outside of playing rec soccer. From there I followed the game domestically through MLS and always watched the U.S. games in the World Cup. However, in high school, I really started to watch MLS more attentively than in years prior and early into college started making the drive up to Chicago for Fire matches. After a game or two, I started standing in Section 8 which only increased my enjoyment of matches.
I honestly wasn't really interested in soccer in other countries for a long time, not because of any nationalism or anything, but rather that the cost of entry was lower. I understand why Manchester United and Manchester City hate each other, but being an American, I don't understand it at the same level as I would a rivalry here. I know why Detroit and Chicago hate each other. I've lived that. Yet, that changed after a friend of mine introduced me to St. Pauli. They showed me how much supporters can be involved not only for their team, but in their community as well. To exist as a force that calls "bullshit" when it's needed. Since then, I've found a few teams in other countries I causally follow, but my interest in soccer is still very much rooted in the leagues here. American soccer has an interesting history and it keeps evolving. It truly feels like you're part of the sports history in the United States when you participate at any level. I don't know if that will really feel the same once the sport becomes more established, but at this point in time, it feels like the things we do today will extend to future generations.
As for Indianapolis, that's simple. I love my hometown and I think it's the greatest place in the world. I loved standing with Section 8 and going to Chicago Fire matches, I still do occasionally, but from the moment I became ‘in’ with supporter culture, I wanted a team in my hometown. The second it was announced a group was looking at bringing a team to town, I was in. There's nothing more I wanted to do than combine all of my soccer experiences into helping create and grow the supporter culture in Indianapolis.
It's good to hear St Pauli referenced. If you like that sort of ethic, you may, if you haven't already, want to look up Dulwich Hamlet in South London, and Clapton FC in East London. And obviously, FC United. I feel like the supporter-led backlash can only be a good thing. US soccer has a great opportunity to shape things for many years, if the fans do it right.
So how did you end up being Head of Gameday Operations? What's wrong with just paying your money at the gate, watching, and going home?
Keep in mind, we were starting from scratch. I spoke to the BYB board and basically offered to head up our tifo, capo, and other gameday-related things. No one else really wanted to take on the role, so I was given it by default. As for what's wrong with paying money, watching, and going home? Nothing. Everyone should enjoy the match in the way they want, but I also think it's critical that our boys on the field know there's a loyal group of humans that are there with them every step of the way.
It wasn't a loaded question. It's just one of the most noticeable things to me about the difference in US support v UK support, the willingness, even desire, to get formalized and organised. Most of us are happy to go to the pub, turn up at 2.55, moan, gripe, and go home again!
So what were your first impressions of the game-day experience? And how have things changed between then and now, speaking purely as a supporter?
Well to go back to the last question, I think there's a difference between US and UK support because of tradition. In the UK, there's a tradition of singing at games and those songs/culture have been passed down from generation to generation. Meanwhile, Americans can get rowdy, but it's for specific moments of the game, otherwise, we're passive. So in the US, if we want to have a supporters culture like the rest of the world, we have to work at it.
In terms of first impression, I was shocked how many people we on board with what we were doing and how quickly they rallied behind it. As for the main difference, people tend to know what's expected now. Chants are louder because they're better known and fewer complaints because people know what goes into being a supporter.
What entry requirements are there to become a part of SH19? And how many members do you currently have, if you keep such records? Indy 11 aren't without their fair share of SGs, so what marks you out from the rest of them?
There aren't really a list of requirements for SH-19 other than don't be a racist, homophobe, and/or sexist. We just want a group of people that love Indy, love our club, and believe in the equality of all people. We're around 110 members, about 80 of them are pretty active. It's a great core of people to draw from to accomplish the things we've set out to do.
Eleven has a few small groups, but all unite under the name Brickyard Battalion which is the umbrella organization for the supporters. I think what sets us apart is that we have an outlined set of beliefs that we adhere to and that we're willing to travel anywhere to support our Boys in Blue.
So don’t be a dick. Seems fair enough. Do you manage to take many fans to away games then?
Unfortunately, our league is really spread out and we don't have the luxury of a regional rival. Our closest away day is 9 hours away by car. Usually we average about 3 away days a season and usually it's a large group of us piling into various cars and driving 9-11 hours to see our team play. Usually that results in groups from 15-50 people.
However, because of the US Open Cup, we had to play the Chicago Fire in Chicago. For that trip we had people carpooling and two buses that made the trip. We ended up bringing about 175 people to that match. Also, for the league final in New York last season, we had a lot of people carpool and a bus make the 11+ hour trip. I think we had 100+ for that game.
Yeah, the travel thing must be a real killer for US fans. I only really asked because you mentioned you were "willing to travel anywhere". Chicago away must have been a great experience for you all. I don't even want to think about an 11 hour bus journey to NY! To turn it round, if anyone from out of town was thinking of a weekend in Indianapolis, what would you suggest? Cultural, foodie, whatever.
Well, for other supporters, we're always open to sharing beers prior to the match. We're not here to play-act some machismo bullshit. We'd prefer to only hate the other SG for the duration of the match. As for anyone visiting, Indianapolis is a really walk-able city and is massively underrated. We have a lot of great restaurants and breweries. The food and beer scene here has really exploded and that benefits everyone. As for culture, we have a ton of great museums and lots of history to be found all over the city.
Indy is definitely one of those places that people forget to visit, I think. What's your match-day routine?
For me it varies on if I have to work in the morning or not. Regardless, it usually entails me driving to Carroll Stadium about 3 1/2 hours before kickoff to help setup whatever is needed. Usually that's rail banners and tifo displays. Additionally, I speak with the security staff in our section to remind them that we have final say over any issue that may arise during the course of the evening. Beyond that, it's a lot of tailgating in the parking lot with other supporters. About 30 minutes before kickoff I go into the stadium and usually capo for all 90 minutes.
And how are you finding Carroll Stadium as a home ground?
I honestly love it. It doesn't have many modern facilities that you'd want at a stadium. For example, there are only four actual bathrooms and the rest of the stadium is port-a-potties. Most of what you see on game days is composed of non-permanent structures, but the club has made it work. That's what I love about it. It's imperfect, but we've made it our own as supporters. Last year, Eleven didn't lose at home. It's become a fortress.
Sometimes I'll watch on tv a lower division team play in German or another European country and I think, "that stadium doesn't look much better than ours, yet the supporters love that place. It's their home." That mentality is how I've been viewing Carroll over the last few years.
That is so great to hear. Like the folk over in Detroit have found, knowing the place is yours can be very heartening. It doesn't have to be all bells and whistles, or state of the art. They can often be the most soulless (just look at Wembley). I'm definitely hoping to make a trip down there sooner rather than later.
Do you have a central base, either as fans generally, or just your little gang? I know you mentioned tailgating, but that by it's nature is temporary.
Our main place for meetups as a group is Union Jack Pub in Broad Ripple. It's where we host all of our watch parties and other events like our End of the Year Awards.
Of course the Union Jack. You're just trying to sweet talk me!! And that has all the historic memorabilia and stuff? What about trophies and silverware/ Where do they live? I appreciate I sound like I am casing the joint, trying to learn where the valuables are kept!
Our trophies, such as our awards and the Union Jack Cup (annual futsal tournament between the various SGs at Union Jack) are kept there. Club's trophies are in the team's front offices.
So it kinda doubles as the unofficial clubhouse? I like it. Peter, I hate to do this, but we have to discuss Pro/Rel. What are your thoughts?
Yeah, we consider Union Jack our clubhouse, but it's shared with other parts of the soccer community in Indy. Which, for us, seems like it fits us better that way.
Pro/Rel is a topic I'm tired of talking about, so I'll leave it at this: I want pro/rel in America to happen, but it's going to have to come from leagues outside of MLS. They want to protect their investment, it's going to take others who are willing to take that risk to make it happen.
OK! I'll not lean against the pro/rel door any further. What is rest of the Indianapolis soccer community, if not the BYB? Who else is using your clubhouse?!
In UJ we have LFC Indy (Liverpool), Loyal Supporters of QPR Indianapolis, Gelbe Wand Indianapolis (BVB), American Outlaws Indianapolis (US National Team), ManU Indy. It's a communal space that's owned by a husband and wife that truly care about the supporters. They've let us light off smoke bombs in the building. When Eleven won the Spring Championship, they tarped off the walls and let us spray Champagne. If we want to do an event, the question is never if we can, but rather how can they help. It's a great place to watch soccer and its little community is a great thing to be a part of.
Woah ... there's an Indy branch of QPR fans? How populous is that?
They aren't super big, but damn are they loud and supportive. They're all good guys.
Ex-pats, or locals?
An ex-pat that convinced a bunch of locals supporting QPR was a great idea.
We have one like that (probably more, tbf) in Chicago called The Globe. It's great that soccer fans have communal hubs. Be it watch parties, pre or post match cocktails, or fundraisers, they serve as wonderful conduits.
Couple of generic questions to close things off, if that's ok? Do you follow any non-US clubs, and how did that all come about? You alluded to a couple waaay back at the start of this interview.
Been to the Globe, a friend of mine is a bartender there. Always heard A.J. Hudson's and Cleo's were the places to go. It's kinda like that in Indy, Chatham Tap is the soccer bar that gets the press, but the real soccer bar is Union Jack.
I follow St. Pauli because I agree with their politics and love what their supporters do, but I'm starting to worry about how commercialized they're becoming. I also follow Aston Villa and Brighton and Hove Albion because of good friends of mine that are English. Villa was the only European club besides St. Pauli that I would watch for a long time.
My British friend from college wasn't really a soccer fan and I'm not really an American football fan, so we traded local teams.
I'm not the biggest Brighton supporter, but I have a close friend that really loves them and is from Brighton. Usually we'll grab beers at Union Jack and watch them when we can. After watching a team enough, you start to form an affinity for them. There are some other clubs I respect and watch, but really most of my focus is on American leagues. Although, I do have a soft spot for the A-League, J-League, Allsvenskan, Liga MX, and the Bundesliga.
I only mention The Globe cos; it's down the road from me. I have little doubt there are better venues in the city. We spoke about the football / politics crossover earlier. I meant to tell you to check out Clapton FC too. Seems like you might be able to wear your Brighton affiliations with even more pride in the next few months.
What would say to Indianapolis locals who haven't yet made it down to the Carroll?
Yeah, what a year it's been for Brighton. Clapton is an interesting club, a lot of supporter unrest right now going between them and club management.
As for people who haven't been to Carroll yet, they're missing out. Our team was great last year, they brought back a lot of the same core, and the atmosphere in that stadium is unlike anything else you'll find in Indianapolis. Which is saying something for a city obsessed with sports.
And to people far from Indy, why should they get involved with their local club?
Because watching a team that plays overseas is fun and it's always great to watch soccer played at a high level, but you can't reach out and affect that environment. Whereas, with your local team, you help create the atmosphere and help build the history of the team. In the end, if you have pride in your hometown, you should support the local club because those players wear your city over their hearts.
Couldn't have put it better myself.
Are there any books about the beautiful game that you would want to recommend to readers? Or podcasts? Blogs? Anything?
Soccer in a Football World, Howler Magazine, and Love Thy Soccer are all great books. As for podcasts, if you want to hear stories about the lower divisions of the American game from the people living it, then the Flakoglost podcast is what you need to listen to. Also, Howler Radio has some amazing stories as well.
Peter, it's been an absolute joy. Thank you. Remember, if you are enjoying the weekly content coming out on AP you can Follow AP on Twitter, or Like AP on Facebook. And if you want make sure you never miss an interview, and want to read articles before everyone else, click here and sign up for the Newsletter. You'll be the first to know when articles are released and learn about other exciting content down the road.
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