Interview with Ultras Bryggja (Cercle Brugge - Belgium)

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Ultras-Tifo : Hi Steve! First introduce yourself, please!
Steve: Hi! I am Steve and i am part of Ultras Bryggja. 23y old and from Belgium. Together with someone else of my group we more or less started Ultras Bryggja. We grouped the persons who made flags/bandieri at Cercle so we could set up better tifo together.

UT: Tell us a bit of the history of your group.
Steve: Well the group started in the beginning of novembre 2005. Before that date there were some supporters who now and than came together to make slogans and do actions. This wasn't really organised and most of the times it just focused on one match. A great advantage was that these people founded an account so there were funds present. The season 2005-2006 is the start of seeing more flags, bandieri at home and away. People started to make their own stuff and ecouraged others to do the same. In Novembre myself and J. took the decision to group all the people together in a real group. We named it Ultras Bryggja. From the start there was the urge to follow this mentality. The singing, choreos, going on away games, playing a part in the fight against repression and modern football etc... . Of course this season we grew in our mentality. We didn't want to blindly copie the concept " ultras ". We gave our own swing at it but stayed loyal at the basics. A month later we made our own bâche (banner) so people would know who we are and what we stand for.
Now our group consists of more or less 12-15 active people who we can count on to make tifo. In the tribunes itself we were easily accepted, we got our own place at home where we stand and where we can do our thing. It is not always as easy to get everybody singing and moving like we want but we can only try to pass our passion in the tribunes.

UT: What ist he meaning of Bryggja and how is your relation to your town ?
Steve: Well Bryggja is the oldest name for the town Bruges. The person on our logo is Jan Breydel. He was a freedom fighter in the 14th century and he has a statue on the market. I think it is very important to show the link between Cercle and Bruges. Bruges is a great city with a rich history. This season for example we made a skyline of the city to show our love for Bruges and Cercle itself.

UT: Exist other Ultragroups of Cerle ?
Steve: Nope, this is the first real group as far as i know. At home games there's often a banner " Cercle Posse Green Army " but unlike some think this is a banner that represents all the Cercle supporters as one. This is a big reason why a lot of people like what we do i think. The visual aspect is something whot is pretty new overhere.

UT: Have your group political tendences ?
Steve: Nope from the start we choose to stay neutral in politics. Without showing our preference the group itself leans closer to left than right i guess. But politics aren´t in our agenda, just supporting Cercle

UT: Tell us a bit of the whole scene of Cerle and the general organisation (Awaygames, etc.)
Steve: Well Cercle plays in Bruges, in the same stadion as Fc does. Jan Breydel counts more than 29,000 places. On an average home game we only play for approximately 5000 spectators. So it ain't easy to bring atmosphere when over 4/5th of the stadion is empty. It has historical reasons why it is like that. Cercle and Fc both had debts so they mayor searched a solution and that was a common stadion. Later for Euro 2000 its capacity increased to 29,000. Cercle played in second division and Fc had success in the first league. We occupy the West side and the below part of the North Side, where the kop and ub05 stand up. There are rumours that Fc would leave for their own stadion but no concrete plans are made yet.
On away games we take a good 300 people average I think, a lot more if it is a close game or against a top club. We travel by bus, car or train it really depends. In the future we got plans to organise our own ub05 trip to a game.

UT: Is your group influenced by other scenes or countries like Italy ?
Steve: Well clearly we are. You can't follow the ultra movement without being influenced. I guess the biggest influences are the usage of a bâche and standard material like flags and bandieri. On the bandieri/flags how-ever we do our own thing. We always try to bring a link with Cercle, Bruges or something else who's typical for our country or our group. There are also aspects we don't have here. For example a megaphone we hardly ever use. It is something that doesn't really fit in over here. Because of the amount of supporters, the tribune, the songs etc... . I personally think every group gets influenced by another, in your own country but also by the raise of the internet and television. This is not always a good thing, often logos are shameless copied. It stays important for a group, especially for a new group, to develop their own style. Here in Belgium we will never have the Italian or French or German Culture but we can develop our own culture and style as the groups keep developing and pulling themselves to a higher level.

UT: Who are your ennemies and how is the relation to the fans of FC Brugge?
Steve: Clearly our “enemies " are city rival Fc Bruges. We don't really like them but this seldom turns out in violence before/after the games. There are a lot of verbal insults when we play each other. With ub05 we try to take those derby’s to a higher level visually. Being present with a lot of flags although it is hard at their away sector. For our home derby we made a long banner with an expression on, saying we are rather a little pleasant team than a big annoying one. Next season the home derby is without a doubt an important game for us. We don't really have other " enemies " in Belgium. Some dislike Roeselare but it ain't really important.

UT: Have Ultras Bryggia friendships or contacts to other scenes ?
Steve: The biggest friendship we got, with UB and in fact most people in the Kop, is the friendship with Rfc Liège. They are a team with tradition founded in 1892 but now play in 4th division. The band is more than 20 years old and started out of a fight when Cercle and Rfcl both played in first division. After the fight, they got together to drink something and clear out the misunderstandings. Both sups saw they got something in common. Being the smaller team in the city: Cercle and Fc, Standard and Rfcl. Both groups often visit their games. The previous season and this season the band became more close. Playing a tournament for one of their sups who got murdered a year ago and more visits to each other. The contacts with Rfcl also influenced our way of supporting as well. At Cercle you can often hear songs in Walloon, showing the link with Rfcl.
There's also a friendship with Zulte-Waregem in first division. But that's only with a small group of them( Sharkies) and not really ultra/tifo based.
Oh and i forget about Plymouth Argyle, a team in the first division of England. We get a long with them. But also not ultra/tifo based. It are more older supporters who visit every year at least a game. Than you also got the London Greens and a group out of York who are an English supportsclub who follow Cercle.

UT: Could you explain the development of the Ultra movement in Belgian ?
Steve: I am not really in the position to explain the wole development in Belgium alas, i would rather let this do by someone who was present and knows more from the start of the movement in '96 when ultras inferno ( Standard ) was founded.

UT: Is your group violent ?
Steve: Nope, we are non-violent. You have to see this in the context of Belgium. Police mostly had to deal with casual/hools over here who used violence. The ultras over here hardly get into fights, although they will defend themselves if necessary. The smaller groups in Belgium are not big enough to organise violence as well. It are two movements who at the moment stand alone in Belgium I think. I doubt it will change fast cause repression has a high level and supporters especially on away games are quickly categorised as " possible problem fans " and closely watched.

UT: How much is your influence in the club ?
Steve: Goh, not as big as in other countries, we are a very small group anyhow. Our biggest achievement so far is that we are able to use our bandieri in our stadion despite what the rules inside the stadion say. On the fanday we can use a stand to show our presence but they don't want us to sell merchandise. So we will have to find another way to solve this problem. We just started of course. But we know who to contact inside the club if we want something to be done. It is important to have good relations with certain people. But we will never be part of the official federation for example, we did get an invitation to join it, but we declined for obvious reasons.

UT: Have you to do with repression by the government or the police?
Steve: Most repression we strangely get at home. For example banners who can't be shown about the gambling scandal. Although I have to add the situation is a lot better now, second half of the season. We even could use plastic material at home. Away it is always a different situation, sometimes we are left at ease and can do everything we want. As long as we don't start violating the football law ( not using flares, smoke bombs, climbing fences, etc... ) .
Other times we get our bandieri/drums taken away from us and we got searched for stuff or treated unfriendly by stewards/police.
The biggest problem in Belgium is that every stadion has its own responsible person. And he can rule the stadion like he wants. He can allow or forbid like he wants. Often we try to contact this person before the game so we can make agreements. In Belgium there is a need for uniform stadion rules that's clear. And those rules should always allow big flags, bandieri, megaphone, drums, etc...

UT: What are your future plans and your´re an established group in the Belgian scene?
Steve: Well, next season will be our second season as a group our goals are simple:
1.) Confirm our first season
2.) Build out our group by organising ourselves better
3.) Focus on selling merchandise and other ways to get more funds
4.) Make better and original tifo

UT: What is your opinion of the Ultramovement in Europe, which scene are in your view the best and which scene have a good development?
Steve: I very much like the movement in Europe these days. But it is clear that almost every country camps with repression. Even in Poland there are clubs who put bans on using pyro. Lots of people get arrested and get huge fines when they use it. It are hard times for ultras but we have to keep battling against it. Police and clubs shouldn't repress our passion. I very much like the scène in France to be honest. There are lots of good groups there who put up original choreos. During the match there's a good level of singing and using flags to support the team. The scene who made the best development in my opinion is Holland. It grows rapidly there and groups have clearly the right mentality. Although it is always difficult to comment on a scène by just viewing pictures and small vids. I now name France and Holland but of course there are plenty of other countries we are as good or even better. I am just more familiar with France and Holland wink.gif

UT: It would be great if you could say one finalsentence to the user:
Steve: The real mentality has to be found in the stands, not on the internet!

Thank you Steve!

(This interview was done in June 2006)