A Different ‘Alabama Football’: The Birmingham Hammers

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Every year, most of us deal with The Summer Sports Blues in some way or another. Now, you can fill the void with a different kind of ‘Alabama football’: the Birmingham Hammers soccer club.

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Before our regular Alabama football readers start going crazy because this is about soccer and not American football, just hear me out!

We all have the Summer Sports Blues to some extent. College football doesn’t start back until September, NFL preseason games just aren’t the same, basketball and hockey are over, and baseball….well, it’s America’s pastime but it also has the longest season known to man. Even the most die-hard baseball fan is bound to get bored from time to time.

This summer, if you’re struggling with the Summer Sports Lull, fill the void with Alabama football of a different kind. Drive a short 45 minutes from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham on I-20 and catch a Birmingham Hammers soccer match at the Sicard Hollow Athletic Complex (affectionately nicknamed “The SHAC”), in Liberty Park.

The Hammers are the only professional soccer team in the state of Alabama. Founded in 2013, the club has just entered its first season as a member of the National Premier Soccer League, the “minor leagues” of soccer.

While of course soccer isn’t American football, Alabama football fans who come to a Hammers match will enjoy many aspects of the competitive atmosphere.

For starters, the team’s main color is red, so you can wear your crimson and feel right at home. Being at The SHAC has distinct advantages, like sitting a few feet from the field (or “pitch”, in the soccer lingo I’ve started to learn). Fans can take in all the action right up close, on bleachers or folding chairs if you care to bring them.

Following two 45 minute halves, you can meet the members of the team, get pictures and autographs, or just shake some hands and tell the guys you enjoyed the match. All of the Hammers are excellent with children and will make your soccer-loving kiddos feel like superstars as they take time out of their evening to greet anyone who wants to say hello.

The members of the Magic City Brigade cheer on the Birmingham Hammers in a match vs. Chattanooga, Saturday May 14, 2016. Photo courtesy of Magic City Brigade
The members of the Magic City Brigade cheer on the Birmingham Hammers in a match vs. Chattanooga, Saturday May 14, 2016.Photo courtesy of Magic City Brigade /

One hilarious part of any match is watching and joining in with the members of the Magic City Brigade, the large (and loud) group of die-hard Hammers supporters. These men and women lead cheers and chants throughout the entire night, playing drums, jumping, dancing, and doing anything they can to hype up the team from the sidelines. They proudly wear Hammers shirts, or specially made Brigade shirts that have “Our City, Our Team” emblazoned across the back. It’s impossible not to catch Football Fever when cheering with these crazy, wonderful people.

I won’t tell you that I understand the first thing about soccer. I don’t. I know that they call the jerseys a “kit”, the field is a “pitch”, and a game is a “match”.  I’m 99-percent certain that players can’t use their hands unless they’re the goalkeeper, and I THINK there’s some sort of color-coded card system for penalties.

What I CAN tell you is that a Hammers’ match is FAST. It’s non-stop action with some of the best athletes I’ve ever seen. The fans are excited, the atmosphere is electric, and everyone is happy and friendly. Cheering on the Hammers has become my family’s favorite way to spend a weekend evening during the summer months.

Alabama football is and always will be my first love. But as a sports fan in general, I appreciate everything the Birmingham Hammers soccer club is doing, and the ways in which they are working to bring not only the Magic City, but the entire state together.

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Instead of moping around waiting on Alabama football to start in September, why not come out to a Hammers match this summer and have some fun trying something a little different? Who knows…you just may love it. For the Birmingham Hammers’ complete schedule, click HERE.

Hope to see you there!   #HammerDown