Soccer teams the world over, big or small, have supporters groups, fans who amplify the energy and enthusiasm of the beautiful game. For Kingston Stockade FC, that means the Dutch Guard, a staple at home and road games, as well as club events and other local soccer games.
The Dutch Guard had two reasons to celebrate its members recently, with longtime treasurer Bradley Delmar winning the National Premier Soccer League’s (NPSL) 2022 Global Scarves Supporter of the Season award, and relatively new member Nick Lambert winning the Stockade FC Supporter of the Year award, presented by the Dutch Guard.
Lambert said they were encouraged to come along to a few pre-season events in 2021 by the Dutch Guard’s President Anthony Saullo following a chance encounter.
“Before a ball was even kicked that year I quickly became friends with many of the people in the group,” Lambert said. “We spent time painting banners, making flags, and other preparations for the upcoming season, and soon enough we were traveling the entire northeast for games on the weekends.”
Lambert said they became even more involved in 2022, leading the section during home games at Dietz Stadium, and participating in more non-game day meetups. They’ve attended nearly every home and away Stockade match for the past two seasons.
“Nick brings a whole new level of energy to the group,” Delmar said.“You can always find Nick perched on the top of the fence at the front of the section, leading a chant and waving a flag. What this group does truly is not possible without them.”
Delmar came to the Dutch Guard after its inaugural season as the Stockade FC’s supporters group.
“My mom found out about the team from an article in the Central Hudson newsletter and encouraged me to check it out,” Delmar said.“I didn’t know about the Dutch Guard going to my first game, but the second they marched into the stadium, I joined in with the fun.”
Lambert was announced as the Stockade FC Supporter of the Year in a Dutch Guard social media post on Thursday, August 11, saying that the response even from some of their non-soccer friends warms their heart.
“The community I’ve discovered through Stockade and (the) Dutch Guard has been a big part of my life in recent times,” Lambert said. “Some of the people I have met through DG are now my closest friends, and we’ve gone on some pretty incredible journeys together. Every trip we go on becomes a story we can share and every home game is a chance to see some familiar faces.”
Stockade FC plays in the NPSL, a semi-professional league with nearly 100 teams spread across the United States. Delmar was announced as the NPSL’s Global Scarves Supporter of the Season on Saturday, August 27, beating out finalists from California’s Napa Valley and Mobile, Alabama.
Delmar has been involved with many of the Dutch Guard’s charity initiatives, including the annual Prideraiser campaign, which raised $1,456 for Trans Closet of the Hudson Valley. Earlier this year, the supporters group also raised over $2,000 for Special Olympics NY with their Polar Plunge, and organized a cereal drive for Hudson River Housing’s emergency and transitional housing for families.
“These charitable efforts are what roots us in the community,” Delmar said. “We play in the heart of Kingston, but our reach goes all over the Hudson Valley.”
That spirit of community is on display at Stockade FC games, where the team and the Dutch Guard Supporters Group are welcoming and inclusive.
“It’s very easy to talk about the passion we bring to game days, chanting, drumming and waving flags for the whole game,” Lambert said. “But it’s also about the time you spend together before and after the whistle blows. All of us in (the Dutch Guard) strive to make the group as welcoming as possible for people to come into. Even if theyaren’t necessarily interested in soccer, we want to give them a place where they feel like they belong and are wanted.”
“The Dutch Guard is the most passionate group of fans you’ll find for Stockade FC,” he said. “On game day, our section are the ones leading the chants. At home, we hold a tailgate before every game open to all Stockade FC fans. On the road, we do our best to make sure our players feel right at home. You’ll find us wherever Stockade goes.”
With Stockade FC’s summer season over, you’ll also find members of the Dutch Guard elsewhere. The supporters group’s Support Local Soccer Tour runs from September 1-14, taking in 14 local college and high school games, including those played by Vassar College, Bard College, SUNY Ulster, Mt. Saint Mary, Vassar College, and Kingston High School.
“We’ve got some great programs in this community, many playing right in your backyard,” Delmar said. “Vassar’s soccer program plays five minutes from my house and has become a secondary‘home away from Dietz’ in the off-season. All passion for the game in the (Hudson Valley) is a positive, especially for our college and high school programs. At the end of the day, the better our local programs are, the better Stockade is.”