People & Places

Vermont Green’s fan club helped propel the soccer team to first-year successes

Vermont Green FC players join fans in a celebration at Virtue Field on May 28. Photo by Patrick McCormack courtesy of Vermont Green FC

When Tyler Littwin reached out to Vermont Green Football Club to offer his services as a graphic designer, he never thought he would be responsible for starting a fan club for the Burlington-based team.

But he quickly became friends with the team’s founders and bonded with one of them, Patrick Infurna, over their shared love of Celtic Football Club, a Scottish soccer team. 

Littwin jokingly threw out the idea of a Vermont Green fan club called the Green Mountain Bhoys. It would be a nod to Celtic FC, nicknamed the Bhoys, and to the famous Vermont militia group led by Ethan Allen.

“Like most bad jokes, the joke became a reality,” Littwin said. 

Littwin was surprised by how much support for the team materialized so quickly. All it took was a post on social media to kickstart the Vermont Green fan club. The club’s first event, which drew nearly 30 people, exceeded his expectations.

“My goal, honestly, was to have enough people so I didn’t look like an idiot in the stands by myself, waving a flag and yelling,” Littwin said. After that first event, he didn’t have to worry; good-sized crowds jammed the stands for home games at Virtue Field at the University of Vermont.

Vermont Green FC fans fill the stands at Virtue Field on June 4. Photo by Patrick McCormack courtesy of Vermont Green FC

The level of support also surprised the Vermont Green. Infurna and the other team founders hoped for some level of community connection, but were shocked at how quickly that connection came together.

“I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was blown away by the end of it,” Infurna said. 

The fans were able to see some high-quality soccer. USL League Two is the top under-23 men's league in North America, with 74 teams aligned in four conferences. It’s a semiprofessional developmental soccer league, a feeder for top-level U.S. soccer teams, and it’s sponsored by United Soccer Leagues in the United States, Bermuda and Canada.

Vermont Green finished its inaugural season on July 24, losing 2-1 to the Long Island Rough Riders in the league semifinals. Connor Tobin scored the goal for the Green. It was a strong debut for the team’s first season — a 12-5-1 record and a third-place finish in the Northeast Division. 

At home games, the Green Mountain Bhoys acted almost as cheerleaders for the team. Betsy Martin, an early member of the Bhoys, said they tried to get as many people involved as possible during a game, to let the players know they had the crowd’s support. 

“If you ask any of the players and the coaching staff, this is a genuine benefit to their ability to perform,” Infurna said. 

It certainly seemed to work: The Vermont Green lost only one home game this season.  

The players showed their appreciation for the fans by climbing into the stands at Virtue Field to celebrate each goal and every win. Littwin believes the camaraderie between the fans and players is a big reason so many fans were drawn to this semipro soccer team. 

Vermont Green FC player Bilal Kamal celebrates with fans at Virtue Field on May 28. Photo by Patrick McCormack courtesy of Vermont Green FC

At bigger venues on bigger stages, fans are often mere spectators, Littwin said. “It’s exciting, but you're not in it.” 

The fan support continued at away games, too, with watch parties for every game on USL League Two’s YouTube channel. 

Infurna said the dedication of the fans was an essential part of the team’s growth through the first season, and he believes it will help propel the team to success in future seasons.

Correction: The origin of "Green Mountain Bhoys" has been clarified.

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Kathryn Field

About Kathryn

Kathryn Field is a student in the sports journalism program at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. A resident of Essex Junction, she serves as sports editor of the State Press at ASU and just completed a certificate program in global sports management at New York University.

Email: [email protected]

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