Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bleeding Purple: Iron Lion Firm

With any professional soccer club, the most intense of noise and passion comes from behind the goal mouth. Orlando City has a few supporters groups that create the astounding atmosphere within the Lions Den. Here we will take a look at the lads wearing purple... the Iron Lion Firm

“Similar to the passion of Barra Bravas of the world, the Iron Lion Firm is a boisterous group of dedicated individuals who's only purpose is to be the "12th man" of Orlando City S.C.  Besides being known for a constant 90 minute of chanting, you can identify the ILF by the infamous streamers being thrown from section 121, which has become part of the culture of Orlando City.  A true representation of the diverse cultures that make up Central Florida, ILF is the group for any and all supporters of the Beautiful Game in the City Beautiful who want to chant the Lions all the way to MLS and beyond!  #ILF #ThisIsOrlando” - OrlandoCitySoccer.com

Lucha Lion grills burgers
It’s around 5pm on a weekend evening. A few cars begin to roll into Lot U across from the stadium. As tents are popped up, charcoal begins to smolder, and various beverages are cracked open, a sea of purple begins to flood the grass. The sizzle of burgers and sausages in the afternoon sun is drown out by the now classic chants released from the mouths of many members. Finally the soccer ball is brought out. A circle forms as the leather sphere is tapped around while the hands hold the drinks and food. As the build up to kickoff continues within the confines of a chain-linked fence, drums, flags and banners of all sorts are gathered in the background. 


Cinco de Mayo
Lion stomping out NY Cosmos
Telling "Garber We Ready"
The banners (commonly known as TIFOs in the soccer community, an Italian term meaning general support for a sports team) unfold and an array of messages are displayed on the sheets. Below are some you can see hanging from the railings of Section 121 of the Citrus Bowl.

As the banners and flags are gathered up, the march into the gates begins. Slowly the firm makes their way up to the gates and up the stairs into the infamous section mentioned above. The chanting, bouncing, flag waving, confetti & streamer throwing, and anything to make the away team feel not welcome continues for the full 90 minutes. 

"You are the fire that ignites us"

Some of our ILF members have even traveled as far as Wilmington, North Carolina and Kansas City to support our beloved club. A small convoy of members squeezed in a mini-van for a trip up the East coast to face the frustrating Wilmington Hammerheads. There we suffered our only loss of the season, but all of the home fans were extremely impressed with our dedication. Except for one moment after exiting the gates where  “The Gambler” himself had to hold back a fellow member from lashing back at an extremely volatile and classless Wilmington "fan". That same firm member is the sole supporter who traveled all the way to LIVESTRONG Sporting Park to watch our boys take on Sporting Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup. This man, who bleeds purple, is pictured below with great, welcoming members of The Cauldron (SKC supporters group).


While Iron Lion Firm bleeds purple for Orlando City, other groups like The Ruckus, Los Guerrilloz, and the Riddim Section combine forces to create an atmosphere inside the Citrus Bowl unlikely seen in any other sports in Central Florida. We will bring you up to speed on the other supporter groups in the weeks and months ahead. Many groups, but ONE CITY!
Fireworks after match-tying goal
Vs. Philadelphia Union of MLS
Firm member Jesus Gamundi 
(3rd from right) with
The Cauldron on his solo trip to LIVESTRONG Park
ILF presents Sons Of Ben
(Philadelphia Union supporters group)
with Supporters Trust banner

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