DCFC supporters aim to be the most passionate sports fans in Detroit

Northern Guard Supporters are the lifeblood of Detroit City Football Club’s fanbase.

DCFC fans gather before a game.

NGS members watch as Bill Emerson gives a pre-match speech, on Saturday, Aug. 13, in Hamtramck, Mich. The speech serves as a way to get everyone ready for the 90 minutes of nonstop action. ahead. As NGS drummer Kristin Novak says, "One of the Capos (the leaders of the march and chants) usually does a speech once we get everybody gathered, to get everybody pumped up, to get some information on who we’re playing" Photo Credit: Nate Pappas/WDET

The Northern Guard Supporters (NGS), an unaffiliated, but organized collective of fans for  Detroit City Football Club (DCFC), are dedicated. On game days, festivities begin well before they enter the gates of Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck. 

Supporters of the team start match day at the Fowling Warehouse, the official pre-match bar of the club. One hour before kickoff, the Guard rallies on the streets of Hamtramck with their drums, chanting as they embark on “The March to the Match.”

As supporters finish their last swigs of Stroh’s, a local favorite beer, the capos gather. They’re the leaders of the march, dressed in all black. They conduct the group with non-stop energy and ear-splitting singing throughout the night. As they head out to the stadium, home team colors of rouge and gold flush out from under a bridge as supporters unleash smoke bombs, marking their territory.


NGS Capo Mark Navarro leads the march in a chant in order to show their support for their team, on Saturday, Aug. 13, in Hamtramck, Mich. Photo Credit: Nate Pappas/WDET

NGS member Chris Motzenbecker says he looks forward to the march.

“This is a very big outlet for me. It’s a place where I get to go and get to let out a lot of energy, and I get to really just throw my all behind it,” Motzenbecker shares.

Most fans are decorated in Detroit City FC gear. As they turn the corner, residents of the neighborhood open their front doors and windows to get a glimpse of the group. Little kids smile and wave from porch steps as the supporters sing songs from Hell’s Hymnal, the Northern Guard’s chant book.

Although many of the chants contain explicit language, NGS member Adam Hernandez says the games are family-friendly and many people bring their kids to the games.

“I know that there’s a big thing about the swear words, and stuff like that, but that’s something you can easily look past, especially if you have kids, just for the experience alone,” says Hernandez.


Kristin Novak, a drummer for NGS, marches under the Conant St. Rail bridge playing her drum while smoke fills the air on the underside of the bridge, on Saturday, Aug. 13, in Hamtramck, Mich. Photo Credit: Nate Pappas/WDET

The fans huddle together as the capos make sure nobody is left behind. Then, one of the group’s leaders steps up to grab the megaphone. Drummer Kristin Novak says that’s her favorite part. 

“[My favorite part is] the speech, one of the capos usually does a speech once we get everybody gathered, once we are onto Jacob, to get everybody pumped up, to get some information on who we’re playing,” Novak says.

The excitement builds as the crowd takes in the last remarks of the capo.

“We are going to rock this place. So if your ready to tune up the band give me a hell yeah!”

The end is near. The Northern Guard  Supporters make their final push to the game. A line has already formed outside of the stadium, and the group’s entrance is turning heads of those waiting to get in. 

Mark Navarro, a capo, says that’s the whole idea.

“It’s our goal to give them energy to feed off of,” Navarro states. “It’s our goal to give them an atmosphere that they want to play in.”

At last, the Guard has arrived. The march is over, but the night is just beginning.

Photo Credit: Nate Pappas, WDET

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »