Special bond between Brilla and The Blue Battalion

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 11:19 PM CDT
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CLINTON, Miss. (WLBT) - Whether it’s drums, vuvuzelas, voices at a fever pitch or all of the above, the soundtrack at Mississippi Brilla matches is a familiar one, thanks to The Blue Battalion.

Having served as the Brilla’s official supporters’ group since 2015, the group of fans have been a welcome sound and sight this season as their favorite team gets set to embark on its first postseason run since in four years.

And when the Brilla kick-off against Kings Hammer FC on Friday at Clinton Arrows Stadium, The Blue Battalion will be just as much in playoff-form as the players on the field.

“Soccer is not a golf clap sort of a sport,” said Steven Nixon, who founded The Blue Battalion in 2015. “It’s rowdy, it’s raucous, it’s loud. When you’re banging a drum, blowing a horn, heckling the referees or the other players, it’s really hard to go back and watch soccer any other way.”

While maybe meager in numbers, what the fan group lacks in size, it makes up for in team spirit.

Channeling the energy of some of the more famed supporters groups of the big soccer clubs across Europe, members of The Blue Battalion have a pregame tailgate setup before every Brilla home match. After a couple of hours of food, beverage and good times, they continue the party for two hours in the stands.

The fun atmosphere has seen more local-area residents join the group over the years, including some that previously had little experience or interest in soccer.

“I didn’t grow up playing soccer,” explained member Jason Adams, who is a former member of the Millsaps men’s basketball team. “I thought why not check it out and once I did I found that I really enjoyed it and I started following that and just the whole sport.”

Growth of soccer in an area where the sport is still very much in the niche category is a big reason why members of The Blue Battalion are invested in this passion project, but another one is because of the unique connection it provides with the Brilla players.

Following each game, Nixon brings down a giant flag emblazoned with The Blue Battalion logo for the Most Valuable Brilla Player to sign. The flag is starting to run out of spaces. It’s moments like that or when the team salutes the crowd after each game that makes being a part of The Blue Battalion that much more special.

“One of the more rewarding things is just how appreciative they have been,” said Nixon. “Chasing this dream and you’re in this place and even though it’s a small group of people, they care about you and care about what you’re doing in chasing your dream to be a professional athlete.”

The Brilla will be hosting Kings Hammer FC on Friday in the quarterfinals of USL League 2 Central Division playoffs. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Clinton and tickets are $5.

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