As a passionate advocate for Crew SC history, I love the Circle of Honor. I am overjoyed that it exists. I can’t wait until Guillermo Barros Schelotto and other Black & Gold greats join deserving inductees Brian McBride and Frankie Hejduk in the Circle of Honor. So a vote for this is in part a vote for the Circle of Honor itself.
But mostly, the vote is for Brian McBride’s induction as-is. It was a beautiful moment that meant a lot to the club, the fans and to Brian himself. For more context, here’s part of what I wrote in that week’s Notebook…
Three years ago, this was the reception that Brian McBride got when he returned to Crew Stadium with the Chicago Fire for the 2008 Eastern Conference Final:
After completing his outstanding stint with Fulham in the English Premier League, McBride chose to go home. His wife and daughters had followed him to Columbus and then to London. He felt it was time to follow them home to Chicago, where they would make their permanent residence surrounded by family. It was a bitter pill to swallow for many Crew fans. An iconic Crew player suited up for a bitter rival. Ironically, the same virtues that made him so revered in Columbus had steered him to Chicago. It was only natural that Brian McBride would lay himself out there and take a beating in an attempt to do the right thing for those closest to him. He absorbed countless elbows while wearing black and gold. He would absorb countless insults while dressed in baboon-butt red.
So on that cold November night, McBride was called a traitor. He was booed. He was heckled. And he scored. Of course he scored. But in the end, the Crew triumphed and went on to win MLS Cup, while McBride suffered yet another crushing near miss. Afterward, McBride spoke highly of Columbus and the Crew. He reiterated that he had no ill will.
Brian knew it was just business. I’m sure it stung…how could it not? But his goal had stung the Columbus fans too. How could it not? Circumstances made this relationship messy. And that’s understandable. But as I wrote in A Massive Season, my hope was that the moment he retired, McBride would once again be accepted as the Crew legend that he is.
I think that is part of what made Saturday so special to me. It seemed that the entirety of Crew history was on display. Old timers were on the field at halftime with McBride. San Jose brought some beloved former Crew players back to town. Massive Champions like Schelotto, Padula, and Iro mingled with fans while watching the game as civilians in the stands. The promising young nucleus of future Crew teams battled on the field. Even Tony Tchani, acquired in a trade the previous day, was making the rounds fresh upon his arrival in Columbus.
Depending on where your eyes roamed, the Crew’s past, present, and/or future were constantly in view. Players come and go, and people can get mad at people, and things can go wrong for a spell, and life isn’t always pretty. But the community endures. On Saturday, whether obligated or not, all of these people found a reason to be at Crew Stadium, and the fans welcomed back every last one of them.
Yes, even the man once labeled a traitor. For three years, the Nordecke booed Brian McBride for his crimes against Crew-manity. On Saturday, the Nordecke repeatedly chanted “Thank you Brian!” They welcomed him with open arms when he came by to visit in the second half. McBride’s status as a local soccer icon had finally been restored in all its well-deserved glory.
Brian McBride, family man, had been home for three years.
Brian McBride, Crew legend, has come home at last.