Wankers beware Georgetown soccer’s biggest fan

October 16, 2008

When Matt Hare (COL `09) shouts out, “How long’s it been?” the crowd knows how to respond. But when he begins to chant “Super Hoyas” or asks his mother “What should I be?” (see lyrics), the soccer fans gathered to watch the Georgetown men take on UConn are a bit quieter. That’s not a problem, because Hare and his small but raucous band of supporters will continue the cheer with plenty of volume. Standing at the front of the bleachers, leaning out over the Hoyas’ bench, they make sure that everyone in the stands and on the field hears their songs.

“When I got here, there wasn’t much of a regimented cheering section,” Hare said.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hare began attending the soccer games as a freshman with fellow senior Peter Keszler, whose brother Andrew was goalkeeper at the time. Between them, the two knew several chants and songs for various professional soccer teams overseas, and they began to adapt them for the Hoyas. Soon enough, other fans began taking notice of the singing freshmen and the new level of energy they brought to the games. Before the end of the season, Hoya Blue asked them to write down the songs and began distributing them at games.

“Hoya Blue kind of mass produced it,” Hare said. “People could know what we were singing, and then they picked up on it pretty fast.”

Hare estimates that there are now 15 to 20 different cheers. They range from short, repetitive chants to full-length songs, such as “Marching on Together,” an adaptation of the anthem of his favorite English team, Leeds United, that they like to sing at halftime. With lyrics tailored to each opponent, the songs can be insulting, funny, and occasionally profane—all the better to energize the crowd and get under opponents’ skin.

Of course, these songs were designed for the stadiums of European professional football, which provide a very different atmosphere from that of North Kehoe Field. Hare was skeptical at first about how receptive players and coaches would be to his antics. However, he quickly found out that the American collegiate game could handle some traditional soccer fanaticism.

“They do a good job most of the time in not crossing the line,” women’s head coach Dave Nolan said. “They do manage to get under the skin of opponents, but just about as far as it needs to go.”

This extra home field advantage has made both players and coaches appreciative of the fans’ efforts.

“His enthusiasm and zest for it is a little bit contagious,” Nolan said.

But Hare doesn’t stand and yell through nearly every men’s and women’s home (and sometimes, away) game just to try and help the Hoyas win. He also wants to help grow the soccer fan base at Georgetown.

“We’re kind of trying to bring to it the big culture that revolves around soccer in England,” he said. “Obviously it’s about going to the games, but it’s also about having fun and the creativity, and the crowd, and the passion that fans have. That’s kind of something we’ve tried to import.”

What will happen after he graduates? Hoya Blue will certainly preserve his legacy, passing out his songs for the next wave of soccer fanatics. But who will be the ringleader, standing on railings and leading the cheers? Don’t be surprised if it’s still Hare.

“I’m going to be working down here [in D.C.] next year,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to come back for a few games.”

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