Football fans demonstrate their passion and commitment to a football club in a variety of different ways. Whether it’s becoming a season member, wearing club colours or never missing a game, no one can dispute the time and effort everyone puts in to building the world game. While other sports boast of big crowds in soulless stadiums or increased TV ratings, nothing compares to the atmosphere and sheer volume created by football fans at matches all over the country and the world each week.
Independent supporter groups and life-long friendships form through the shared love of the game and a club. Fans plan and discuss away trips all over the country, design banners and flags, wear fan merchandise proudly representing their home end and club and belt out chants while having a few beers in the pub, sharing a packed train ride or marching up the street to a match. To outsiders football is seen as just another game, only about player transfers, money and championships, but football is so much more than that.
What makes a Tifo so special?
Large choreography displays created independently by fan groups also known as ‘tifos” is a unique characteristic that separates football and its fans from everything.
Fans raise money through selling fan merchandise or receiving fan donations to fund tifos. This is primarily how The Cove consistently create tifos and new flags or banners every year. The Sydney Tifo Crew officially formed in 2009: it is a core group of The Cove responsible for designing, tracing, painting and deploying tifos at Sydney FC matches within The Cove.
Over the years we have grew in numbers and experience, trying new ways to push the boundaries and constantly improving our displays. While at times it can be a highly stressful and demanding job with short deadlines and late nights putting our social lives on hold, it’s all worth it when the tifo is deployed and it all comes to life in the stands and the players and fans from all around the ground applaud and share our passion for the club. It’s hard to wipe that grin off our faces for the rest of the match.
Take a look into why some members of The Cove and the Sydney Tifo Crew do what they do.
What do tifos mean to you and the fans of the club?
“Tifos mean a way for us as fans to have an impact on what happens on the pitch. They encapsulate what it means to support the beautiful game and to belong to a team. In a way that is what makes the best tifos stand out, the ones that coherently demonstrate the passion for the badge and shirt and that it isn’t just eleven players on the pitch going into battle – for a moment the spectacle transcends sport, gender, age and ethnicity in a demonstration of love – love for your team, love for the brothers and sisters next to you on the terrace, love for your city.” – Marty (ausbarca)
“Tifos to me personally mean much more then just a large painting on fabric. It’s a way to express my love for Sydney FC. All the stress, close deadlines and setbacks endured through the completion of a tifo all seem worth it once it is revealed to the general public and fans. It’s an amazing rush of euphoria, knowing that some have been kept a secret for years and a lot of planning has gone into them.” – Rigga
What has been your favourite tifo you’ve helped work on this season?
“The Best Tifo for me was the 3 Bay Card Display (“Our City, Our Colours, Our Team”) from the first round of the season. I doubted so much, we worked for 4 hours pre game, thinking it was in vain: seeing a photo was the best feeling in the world, knowing we created that for this club.” – Adam
“The Silence the Roar tifo: whilst not a great result on the field, it was an experience from start to finish. So many times we thought we wouldn’t finish it due to a number of variables, though we got it done with two days to spare.” – Southy (pisswreckx)
How much effort goes into the process? Do you feel it’s worth it?
“A lot, and the effort that some put into them is unbelievable. I always find it somewhat amusing that something that takes 100s of man-hours is usually only displayed in the stadium for less than a minute and then it never sees the light of day again. That said, they’re definitely worth it. I personally feel strongly that the Cove’s works are some of the most creative and pioneering. When you see the crowd’s reaction and amazement I think that that gives some of the people behind the Tifo a nice kick.” – Vince (lildutchguy)
“Hours, days and sometimes weeks working on designing, sewing, tracing and painting tifos can be hard work and often stressful with deadlines of game day, finding suitable space or repairing sewing machines. The amount of work we do to get these tifos from a concept in our heads to deploying over the entire Cove is remarkable and sometimes forgotten by outsiders. Often our non-football social lives or school/Uni gets put on hold when we need all hands on deck to get a Tifo ready. Often we are our biggest critics of our own work behind the scenes, constant- ly critiquing ourselves and pushing ourselves to try new concepts and use new materials and ideas. It’s all worth it in the end when Tifos deploy smoothly and The Cove is a sea of Sky Blue” – James23
What got you involved in active support with SFC?
“Moving on from Bay 23 to Bay 22 in 2011 where I felt that I could still contribute to active support via STC/Bay 22 – this has been one the most enjoyable moves I have made in supporting our team. The opportunity to contribute to tifos and to a better game day experience has filled the void of me wanting to do more for the cove.” – Southy (pisswreckx)
“The original Sky Blue Youth back in 2009 got me involved with being an active Sydney fan. Boys from all over Sydney caught up together to support Sydney FC in the heart of Bay 23 of The Cove and ever since I gained a passion for something I never knew I had and formed some life-long friendships.” – Rigga
How to get involved with the Cove?
“Come down and introduce yourself to any of the guys in The Cove at the front in Bay 23 or in Bay 22. We are always looking for motivated and dedicated fans to make our home end grow with colour and vocal support. Another way to get involved is to attend as many home and away trips as possible to get to know other fans. Step outside your comfort zone and travel to a Melbourne Away. Often strong friendships are formed on these trips. Making your own Flag or Two-Stick banner is also highly encouraged and there are plenty of stock designs and tutorials to get you started on SFCU. ” – James23
“Approach the various leaders within The Cove; they are only considered leaders as they lead by example by consistently contributing to our home end for years in a number of ways. If you have a little more laid-back approach, come meet the guys in Bay 22 who, whilst new to the tifo side of things, put a lot of passion into The Cove also.” – Southy (pisswreckx)
The Cove Social Media Links
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SoundCloud: @TheCove23