It is said that Football is a universal language; that the beautiful game is a gentleman’s sport and brings people of all walks of life together.
Proof of these statements hung in front of section 114 last Saturday at Stade Saputo, when a banner reading ‘Drogba Legend’ hung proudly over the railing, making it all the way from London to witness the Ivorian’s historic first start, capped off by his hat-trick.
How did that happen?
The initiative was conceived by Marco Montali, one of six founding members of the Impact’s newest supporters groups: 1642MTL.
“I was watching a Chelsea game on TV and saw the banner and thought, ‘wow, they must really love this guy.’ I got excited to see him in Impact blue,” said Montali, a proud season ticket holder. “Then, later on in the day, I remembered that the Impact had some dealings with Chelsea over the summer when they trained here and thought that it would be really cool to try and bring the banner over here.”
Skeptical, Montali and 1642 reached out to IMFC representatives about their idea on August 10, hoping solely to be provided with a contact number after, seeing that Chelsea FC held its preseason in Montreal.
Less than a week later, with the help of CFC, the bleu-blanc-noir received confirmation that the banner’s owner David Johnstone from the ‘Chelsea Flag and Banner Crew’ and CFC’s marketing manager were packing the banner for shipment across the Atlantic - a goodwill gesture from one set of supporters to another, one club to the other, to help honour Drogba’s extraordinary career.
Named for the year Montreal was founded, 1642MTL was the brain child of season ticket holders Anthony Lizzi and Ali Shayan, two staunch IMFC supporters who have traveled from Costa Rica to Bologna in order to support their club.
“We felt that at times, there wasn’t enough positive support behind the team, especially during tough times,” explained Lizzi, who verbalized the idea to Shayan on the train going back to Rome from Bologna, after cheering on Joey Saputo and his other team in their bid to return to Serie A.
“We wanted to create a supporters group that would be more positive and more visually stimulating in its efforts, with more banners and flags, to add to the work already done by the other supporters groups. We believe in the magic of the game and the team, which needs our support during good times and in bad.”
Through the power of social media, that idea became a serious discusion and Montali was immediately on board.
“I’ve been to every home game for the past three years and I thought that there must be a way we could add to the ambiance at the stadium,” he admitted. “Watching games in Portland or Seattle, the environment is amazing. We thought that if they could do it, why not us! So when section 114 became available, 1642 was born.”
Working with the club, this new supporters group aims to help improve the fan experience in-game, but also hopes to positively affect the players on the field, starting with bringing the Drogba banner from Stamford Bridge to Stade Saputo.
“This was an amazing way to start a new supporter’s group,” added Montali. “Knowing Didier is such a great player, we hoped this would help motivate him even more.”
He added jokingly, “See, it worked! He scored three goals!”
Anthony -> @IcyColdShot
Ali -> @alishaymtl
Sonya -> @sonia_busnardo
Marco -> @Gab_Dan
Natasha -> @NTGBandit
Vittorio -> @tired_dad79