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Stoking the fire: Hatred between FC Buffalo, Erie still burns

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

We pity the officiating crew that has to work tonight’s FC Buffalo vs. Erie rivalry match. The two teams and fan-bases simply loathe each other, and a contest filled with cards, violent tackles and a whole lot of extra-curricular activity should be expected.

The Blitzers’ boisterous group of fans—the Situation Room—posted this on Twitter this morning:

The match: FC Buffalo (1-1-2) vs. Erie Admirals (1-1-1)
The venue: Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium, 2885 Main St., Buffalo
The cost: $5 with complimentary FC Buffalo cowbell to the first 250 fans.
Quick note: FC Buffalo has never beaten Erie in an NPSL match.

As the third year of this I-90 rivalry kicks off, we checked in with a number of veteran FC Buffalo players via email/text on their feelings toward the Buffalo vs. Erie rivalry:

Player/coach Matt Stedman: “It is a battle. Every time we get together, there is definitely no love lost. Our hatred for them drives us to do everything we can to beat and embarrass them. #hateErie”

Co-owner Scott Frauenhofer: “I have tremendous respect for John Melody (owner/coach of Erie) and the organization considering the great amount of success they’ve achieved in their short existence. I consider John a mentor and am always trying to learn from him. Game day though, I want blood. I want FC Buffalo to finish every tackle hard, and really break Erie off.”

Midfielder Josh Faga: “It’s simple. We don’t like them. They don’t like us. A win over Erie is better than winning a championship. And this season we have three opportunities to do so.”

Midfielder John Grabowski: “You can clearly sense the rivalry on the field by the intensity in tackles and extra emotion from both sets of fans/benches. There’s always that little bit of extra “chirping” and “chippiness” in games between Erie and us because of how bad both teams want to win and earn the bragging rights for the rivalry. Both sides realize there are more than points at stake for these games which makes it mean that much more to us.”

Defender Patrick Zelko: “Every game against Erie has that extra edge that makes it into the rivalry that it is. They are always a talented group that you know is going to come out ready to battle. It’s our job this weekend to make sure we want the six points more.”

Due to a nagging calf injury suffered against Binghamton, Faga will be out of the lineup tonight. (Update: We’ve learned that Faga’s injury is a fractured fibula that will hold him out just shy of a month). There could be a double-dose of Walter in the midfield, then, as brothers Chris and Ryan are available for roles. Rumored to be on his way to Rochester as a short-term injury replacement, Kendell McFayden will be in the lineup tonight against Erie.

The Blitzers will have to corral Erie striker Shane Howard, who set a franchise record with four goals against Binghamton earlier in the season, earning NPSL Player of the Week honors in the process. Blitzer-killer Afrim Latifi remains on the Admirals’ roster, but due to traveling responsibilities he’s missed several of Erie’s matches so far this year.

Vocal keeper Danny Mudd returns, however, and familiar names like Casey Derkacz (Hamburg) and Gavin Falconer (Canisius College) are also on the visitor’s squad.

(Header photo courtesy of Nate Benson from a 2011 match against the Erie Admirals—full gallery here).

TAGGED: afrim latifi, buffalo blitzers, erie admirals, fc buffalo, matt stedman, npsl soccer, scott frauenhofer

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