Last Word On Soccer had the chance to interview Allan Gorman from the Forge FC Supporter Group Barton Battallion about the upcoming season. We thank him for his time and candor.
MK: Can you tell our readers a brief history of how you first came to be involved with Barton St. Batallion? Were you a supporter of another team in a different league beforehand?
AG: The Battalion was formed early 2016, the first SG [supporters’ group] for the CanPL. It was created out of rumours and fumes — a Steve Milton article in The Hamilton Spectator was the first in Canada to mention the proposed CPL. The group is named after the major road leading to the stadium — Barton Street.
I met James Hutton, the creator of Barton St Battalion, whilst we were volunteer coaching at Tim Hortons Field for an inner city and refugee free grassroots soccer programme in early 2016 shortly after it had started. I had heard about the group but was not aware he was running it until halfway through a pint after the coaching. Fast forward three years and James works for Forge FC ticketing office and I have been running our supporters group for a year now. It has gone from four of us in a pub to well over 400 season ticket holders in our section.
I was born and grew up in Glasgow, Scotland as a big Rangers FC fan, watching my idols like Brian Laudrup in the stands at Ibrox at a very young age till I was 12 years old, living abroad since.
10 years of living in Hamilton, TFC games have been the only professional soccer in and around this part of Ontario, which is a bit of a trek. I’ve loved the team there and been a regular for a few years now, but now Hamilton has a team here, it was never in doubt which club I will be supporting.
MK: The BSB is known to be very receptive to new members. What does it mean to be a part of the group?
AG: Regardless if it is someone brand new to soccer, or a weathered, obsessed fan, we want to make sure everyone is just as welcomed and valued. We only hope people will buy into what we are aiming for — to be the 12th man for Forge FC every game and help create a spectacle in Tim Hortons Field’s stands with singing, waving flags, creating tifos, and cheering this new local team win, lose or draw.
MK: Is there much interaction between the group and the management at Forge FC? If so, have they been receptive to your ideas?
AG: We have close contact with the Ticats CFL organization since almost day one. Together we have attended festivals behind stalls, letting Hamilton know about CanPL and the 2019 league. Similarly in the stadium during Ticats games, selling Battalion scarves and getting future fans excited before the hype had started and Forge FC was launched. We were a large part of the launch itself, with about 75 group members on the stage behind the speakers. Last year in October, the Battalion Charity Cup was played on Tim Hortons Field, where around 100 players played in a tournament raised close to $1,500 for a local woman’s abuse shelter, Interval House of Hamilton. The management helped arrange the date for us to play in the stadium, and we plan to make the tournament far bigger and raise more money this year. We are yet to be shot down on an idea, and cannot fault the club and their staff on that end.
MK: It was recently announced that Forge FC would play host to Y9 for the official league season launch. Can you tell us what the SG has in store for those attending?
AG: It will be loud, that is for sure. We have had this excitement bottled up for three years now and when our team in orange step out and sing the national anthem, it will be a huge moment.
We have plans in place to make the first ever Canadian Premier League match played to be memorable, but no good tifo or plans have ever been revealed before the game itself!
And of course, York 9 conceding 6 goals wouldn’t hurt.
MK: On a personal note, is there a particular player you are most looking forward to seeing playing at THF this season?
AG: From the players we have signed so far, each one has been a great acquisition by our manager Bobby Smyrniotis. I really have been impressed. His ability to nurture young Canadian players is obvious. Kyle Larin is just one of a list of Sigma FC graduates that has gone on to shine, and in the CanPL our manager’s ability to nurture young talent will be crucial.
Kyle Bekker is an obvious choice, a real classy midfielder, but Marcel Zajac for me is a player I cannot wait to see strut his stuff live. He had a clear MLS career ahead and chose to take a different course, leaving the University of Akron in America, and head home to buy into coach Bobby again, and he looks a real, exciting talent.
MK: If you could bring in a dream signing for the club — any player, any league — who would you want to see leading the team onto the pitch this April?
AG: I think a lot of CanPL clubs and fans will be keeping an eye on Atiba Hutchinson as he enters the twilight of his career. To see the Canada captain be a part of this league at any point, regardless of this season or in the future, would be fantastic, and I truly hope somehow Forge FC gets ahead of the curve there. That being said, no one here would begrudge a Xavi in his prime.
Thanks again to Allan Gorman for taking the time. If you are interested in getting tickets, visit the Forge FC website.