Big home entertainment news for Union fans broke over the weekend with the addition of “Sons of Ben: The Movie” to the Netflix lineup. Originally debuting in 2015, the film tells the story of the Union supporters’ group from the very beginning and how their passion and determination helped drive the birth of Philadelphia Union.
Many Union fans are well versed in this remarkable story, but for those who aren’t, the Netflix platform makes it more accessible than ever. From the Sons of Ben: The Movie website:
Major League Soccer debuted in 1996 and though Philadelphia is a top five market with storied sports franchises, it didn't get a team.
Ten years later it still didn't have a team, so a band of die-hard Philly soccer fans did something crazy: they formed a supporters club for a team that didn't exist. Naming their group after famous Philadelphian Benjamin Franklin, they called themselves the SONS OF BEN.
They had one goal – bring professional soccer to Philadelphia. Hoping to expand to 100 members by the end of the year, they soon had 1,500 drum-banging, song-singing followers. Together these Sons of Ben started a movement that brought into existence Philadelphia Union, changing the Philadelphia soccer landscape forever and helping to revive a struggling community abandoned by government, business, and its neighbors.
From a personal standpoint, I made time to watch the movie over the weekend once I received wind that it was now on Netflix. Having been an intern with the club before spending three seasons in Columbus with Crew SC, I had a pretty good understanding of the story. Yet, to see it portrayed visually with the viewpoints of the individuals who made it happen made for a great trip back into the historical record of the formation of our club.
The supporters’ culture is woven deep into the fabric of soccer – some would say it’s what sets it apart from other major sports – and to think that there might not even be a Philadelphia Union without that culture and the people in this film reinforces the bonds that make this club special.
As for my favorite scene? Clips of the 2007 MLS Cup broadcast immediately come to mind, particularly after watching the 2016 MLS Cup this weekend. Seattle Sounders FC fans packed their own section of BMO Field last Saturday among the red of Toronto FC supporters, but imagine if there was a section carved out of folks from a city such as Sacramento or Cincinnati, flags waving wildly, chanting for a team that was not on the pitch or even in existence in MLS? That’s actually what happened in 2007 at RFK Stadium with the Sons of Ben, almost three full years before the Union ever took the pitch. Those images would make anyone appreciate the bond between club and supporter that much more, and that’s the kind of passion that exists here in Philadelphia.
Truly a must-watch for Union fans, new and seasoned, fire up Netflix and search “Sons of Ben” to access the movie. For other options on how you can watch, the movie’s official website is a fantastic resource.