We haven’t heard a ton about match day traditions from Atlanta United FC in the lead up to first kick against New York Red Bulls. With a few days left, though, the club is introducing a few wrinkles that supporters can embrace each and every game. One that was announced today and that caught our attention is the Golden Spike.
What is it, exactly, you ask? Good question. It’s a nod to Atlanta’s history as a railroad town. In fact, the city’s original name, Terminus - where the supporter group Terminus Legion derives its moniker from - comes from the fact that it was an end point for several railroad hubs in the 1800s when trains were the main mode of transportation.
Here’s what to expect, from the club’s website:
90 minutes before Atlanta United take the field, the players will arrive at the American Family Insurance Fan Village to sign the Golden Spike, followed by the club's faithful fans and supporters (All are invited to sign it). Approximately 45 minutes prior to kickoff, Atlanta United supporters will march to the stadium carrying the Golden Spike...
In the stadium, the Golden Spike will be hammered into the railroad platform fronting the supporters section with the stadium chanting…. A-T-L…A-T-L….A-T-L.
After the final whistle, the Golden Spike will be hammered in by a player, an honor voted on by the fans (via Twitter).
It’s a cool sounding tradition that they have planned. I’m interested in seeing a) exactly how big the spike is, since the players and a number of fans will be given a chance to sign it and b) how quickly the supporters are able to catch on to the chants as the first spike is driven in Sunday. The tradition of hammering the spike reminds me in some ways of the “Keep Pounding” drum the NFL’s Carolina Panthers use that is hit four times before every game (to signify the four quarters a football game). Each week, a local sports/entertainment celebrity, a former Panthers player, or a fan selected that ties into one of the league’s special awareness weeks - is picked as the honorary Keep Pounding drummer. I could visualize Atlanta United doing something similar in future matches this year.
The Golden Spike sounds like it will be something the fans can get around each match day. I’m sure we’ll get a look at more traditions on Sunday and in the weeks and months to come, but this certainly is a good way for the young club to continue to build its identity.