Chelsea FC web site, courtesy of our friends at Chelsea FC USA, recently did a spotlight on American Southwest Blues local chapter in Tulsa.
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As part of our Supporter Spotlight series, we are speaking with chapter heads from Supporters Clubs across the United States.
Our goal is to discover how they were developed, where they congregate, what makes them unique and what traditions they maintain. Above all, we want to show how many groups of people of different race, sex and creed, and in cities across the country, share a common bond - their love for Chelsea.
We most recently spoke with Mario, chapter head of the Tulsa Blues from Tulsa, Oklahoma. ‘You might not believe that in a small country town in the middle of Oklahoma, there’s serious soccer fandom,’ he told us. ‘When I first moved here, I didn’t expect there to be so many Chelsea fans, but there are passionate Blues fans out here, there really are!
‘Tulsa is actually a big soccer town. It has history from 1978, when the Roughnecks came to town. It’s not just a little country town, it’s actually a big sports town! There are a lot of devoted soccer fans here. There’s a big family community of soccer fanatics, especially Chelsea fans. They might call this a flyover state but it’s a serious stop for real soccer supporters. We’re a diverse group, we treat each other like family and at the end of the day we’re all true Blue fans.
‘We started in 2014, so this is our fifth season coming up. When I moved to Tulsa, there were already a few established groups in town; one from Arsenal, one from Spurs. One day, I reached out to a few Blues fans and, while we didn’t know anything about starting a group, we knew we wanted to. There were some talks about making one but I actually pushed forward. Soon, three became 30, then 30 became 60. Now, we’ve got over 100 members.’
‘I’d like to say that this Supporters Club is my second family. We go through everything together and when I’m having a tough time, they’re always there for me.’
Mario was eager to highlight the positive endeavours that the Tulsa Blues undertake in their local community. ‘We have Thanksgiving charity drives, we did a few fundraisers for one of our friends’ daughter’s surgery and we do a lot of Christmas drives for underprivileged kids who wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to receive gifts,’ he explained. ‘We also do rivalry matches with other Supporters Clubs in town for charity or just for bar tabs and the like.’
‘My favorite event was the Christmas drive in Oklahoma City. A couple of us got a few boxes of toys and we combined them with other Supporters Clubs from other teams for John 3:16, a charity group in the area.’
On the signing of Pennsylvania native Christian Pulisic, Mario had this to say: ‘It’s really great to see an offensive-minded American player going [to Chelsea]. I think he’ll be the talent that cements the fact that Americans can play. Players like [Clint] Dempsey and [Landon] Donovan paved the way, but he’s another great American playing overseas and being able to show his talent in the world-class Premier League.’
When asked about members of the Tulsa Blues getting a chance to see the team play in person or making the pilgrimage to Stamford Bridge, Mario said, ‘A few of us went to the match against Barcelona in Washington D.C. during the 2015 International Champions Cup. One of our members goes to London to see the Blues play at Stamford Bridge every year.’
Finally, Mario shared his expectations for the season to come: ‘I’m excited to be back in the UEFA Champions League,’ he said. ‘It’s still a work in progress, but we’ll have a lot of loan players returning to the team. Add to that Pulisic’s arrival, and I’m confident we’ll be top four - maybe top two - in the league.’
The Tulsa Blues are a part of the conglomerate American Southwest Blues, with clubs from cities in Arizona, Texas and others in the southwest United States. If you live in the Tulsa area, be sure to inquire about joining up with them.
Information about the group, and all 35+ CIA groups, including where it meets and who to reach out to can be found, here.