Following my previous article which introduced some background of the Charleston Battery to the Houston Dynamo faithful, I dug a little deeper. I had the privilege of speaking to Andrew Bell, the team's president, who actually joined the Battery in 1999 as their play by play announcer. He hails from Reading, England and is still one of the most renowned play-by-play men in the lower division soccer. He is a top choice for USL PRO championship matches and master of ceremony for the annual Hall Of Fame dinner. Truly a great asset to the sport and here's what he had to say:
Q. Blackbaud Stadium was the first privately funded soccer specific stadium in the US. What other unique attractions are on the grounds?
Bell: The Three Lions Club is an amazing space and kind of unique to the soccer stadiums in the US. In my opinion, it has the finest collection of authentic soccer memorabilia in the country.
Q. How well does Charleston as a city show it's support for the Battery?
Bell: We're entering our 23rd season, which says a lot about how the community has responded to having pro soccer. We have a knowledgable fan-base and enjoy the support of the citizens of Charleston as well as the various municipalities.
Q. Where does the name Battery come from?
Bell: I think, historically the term 'battery' referred to a cluster of cannon in action as a group and with our City's particular history there are lots of ways that that particular word has strong meaning. I've always considered it to be particularly appropriate because just like a battery of cannon, a successful soccer team relies on coordination, teamwork, esprit de corps, focused motivation etc.
Q. Are there any team specific chants you can expect to hear on gameday at the Baud?
Bell: The "We Are The Battery" chant is popular.
Q. What is a must eat food item for a first timer in Charleston?
Bell: A great place to eat is Husk. As for a food item, shrimp and grits is probably the signature Lowcountry dish.
Q. What is one word that best describes Battery soccer?
Q. How big of an event is the Carolina Challenge Cup for the Battery and Charleston itself?
Bell: Huge and growing. Its always been a big part of our season but with the overall growth of the sport and MLS in particular the tournament has taken on increased significance. We were the original pre-season tournament in 2004 and we've been fortunate to be able to continue the tradition annually ever since.
Q. What specific legion of fans do the Battery have?
Bell: Our official supporters' club is called The Regiment. We also have unofficial supporters' groups called Queen Anne's Revenge, which grew out of our local American Outlaws chapter, and a Hispanic fan group called Charleston Battery La Barra. We're fortunate to have supporters who tailgate together, march together, stand together and work together.
Q. What are some exciting teams the Battery have gotten the chance to face?
Bell: UK: Sunderland, Bolton, Portsmouth
Mexico: Puebla, Atlante
Jamaica: Constant Springs, Village United
Q. Who are some Battery alum in the MLS currently?
Bell: Playing: Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle, Micheal Azira, Alex Caskey, Tim Melia, Alec Kann, Andrew Dykstra
Coaching: Mark Watson, Ian Fuller
Q. Where can people follow you, as well as the club on social media?
Bell: The Battery are on Twitter as @Chas_Battery and on Facebook as Charleston Battery. We're charlestonbattery.com on the web.
Big thanks again to team president Andrew Bell of the Charleston Battery for his time and stay tuned for each week's edition of Carson's Charleston Charge!