Sons of Ben

The Sons of Ben is a 501(c) (3) Pennsylvania based non-profit, membership organization.

The Sons of Ben, founded in January 2007, exists to support and develop the Delaware Valley soccer community. Through active, grassroots support, the Sons of Ben helped establish the momentum leading to the creation of the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league. In forging a relationship with Chester City, Delaware County and Pennsylvania State political leaders along with Major League Soccer, the vocal support of the group directly influenced the decision to award Philadelphia with an MLS franchise.

The Sons of Ben have provided a social outlet for soccer supporters to share common interests and be part of a larger community of sports fans in the 4th largest American media market. The organization has grown to include over 5,000 members throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and around the world. The Sons of Ben have also grown to oversee the Delaware Valley Infantry, a US Soccer supporters group based in Philadelphia region, and the Daughters of Betsy, a Philadelphia Independence (WPS) supporters group.
Charitable and philanthropic efforts have been central to the Sons of Ben since its founding, as evidenced by annual initiatives supporting the Bernardine Center in Chester, PA through its Help Kick Hunger campaign and ongoing efforts to support various other organizations close to the Delaware Valley soccer community.

The coming months will start a new chapter in the organizations noteworthy story with many historical events marking the arrival of the Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia Independence and the Sons of Ben into the national spotlight.

A Word From Jeremy Sharpe

During and after last Union home match, a lot of things were said via social networks, texts, and phone calls. I know that Kenny Hanson, Sons of Ben President, and other leaders of the Sons of Ben have gotten communications about The River End. Some things that were said and done were misinterpreted, some things were done to be fun and get everyone's' spirits back up, while some did go against the spirit of being supporters. I am not writing this letter with any concern of hurting any feelings. The intent of this letter is to lay it all out there.

Let's talk about the biggest elephant in the room first, Bohemian Rhapsody. Before I get into back story, let me just say that Bohemian Rhapsody was the most smiles I've seen during a song in the River End since the first 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.

So, backstory. Bohemian Rhapsody has been happening in 136 for the latter part of 2013 and every home match of 2014. The idea was simple. When the section is quiet because we are down about the score or the run of play, members of 136 would start singing Bohemian Rhapsody. It has been a great pick me up. There has been a Brigade theory, when life gets you down, sing Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Well, when everything seemed down and out on Saturday, and the entire River End was quiet, the pick me up was needed. Nothing that trying to been sung or chanted was working. Well, it started as a few people in 136 singing. I guess more people needed this than was ever expected, because it caught on like wild fire. It was fun, it mad people smile. I haven't seen that many smiles from the River End in a long time.

Honestly, I hope it catches on. It was fun.

Next, I would like to address the former Union players chants during the second half. As I would assume everyone noticed, Brad Knighton was in net for New England. To poke a little fun at him, it started as which former Union keeper is that, so the Seitz chant started, then Mondragon chants, and it just went into a 'what former Union player' are you. For those not in TRE, Knighton was having a lot of fun with it.

I do understand that if all you heard was chants of former players, this could be misinterpreted, but it was innocent.

Now, let's get to the uglier parts of the day. First, I heard the chants that seemed to ask for Nowak's return to the club. As a supporter of this club, this really bothered me. There may not be many players left from Nowak's time here with the club, but a lot of you in TRE, and a lot of you that have been with us since the first match in 2010 all well aware of the issues between Nowak and the players and the alleged mistreatment. This wasn't just an insult to Hack but a terrible thing for the players that played through Nowak's time at the club.

Personally, I was very disappointed by those who partook in that chanting. There were faces in that crowd that I hope just got caught up in the moment.

On that note, I also heard 'we'd rather be Red Bull fans' and various chants cheering on New England. There is no appropriate way to express how angry those chants made me. I will make this very clear, if you want to support another club, I have zero issue with that. Now, assuming that is not true, and you do want to support your club, other clubs chants are not welcome in TRE, ever. Chanting support for other clubs is against every ideal of supporting your club.

The booing. I am not against the boo as a form of expression, but early on in my time in the Sons of Ben, we wanted to be different than the Philly stereotype. We weren't going to boo our team. I know that there are many of you not happy with the current results and aren't impressed with Coach Hackworth, but booing our players or coach, leave that to other folks. In the River End, we don't boo the players on the pitch or the coaching staff. I never was shy about my dislike for the way Nowak ran the club, but I never booed him. That is not what Sons of Ben or supporting your club is all about. Be better than the stereotype.

Finally, our loyalty to our club was called out by a few people on social networks. Now, I am well aware that this is not the case, but I also know that for a lot of us, we have been together before there was a team, some when it was still just a hope that we could get MLS attention and get interest in Philly. I know how dedicated you are to this club. But I also know that the reality of Sons of Ben is that we were out convincing people to become members, convincing friends to come to events, and bring friends to viewing parties to grow the SoB's, so we have a loyalty to each other that sometimes surpasses our loyalty to the club.

Let's make a positive out a few negatives. We finally found a song we all like to sing. Build on that. We proved that we can be loud again. So, next home match, let's make sure we are so damn loud and coordinated that there is not a person at PPL or watching at home that doesn't know who we are and how much we support our club and each other. Let's keep the negativity away and have great fun as a group.

Jeremy Sharpe

© copyright 2014, Sons of Ben.  Main image by Earl Gardner.