What came first, the Chicken Bucket FC fan group or the "chicken bucket" chant?
According to T.J. O’Toole, 31, one of the founders for this spirited NYCFC supporters’ group, the chant came first. But what started as a joke has become one of the most endearing examples of fan support for the team which hosts Atlanta United this Sunday, May 7 (Univision and Facebook in US, MLS LIVE in Canada).
Actually, even before the chant or the name, sincere appreciation of a beloved Yankee Stadium concession came first. Six people who became friends on Long Island during high school became the first fans to initiate it, after they bought season tickets for the team’s inaugural 2015 season in Section 206. Soon after, they developed an appreciation for the stadium's $20 chicken buckets, filled with 10 tenders and/or five chicken sliders, accompanied by copious amounts of french fries.
They spontaneously came up with a “chick-en buck-et!” chant, to the familiar, “Let’s go, team name” cadence that American sports fans know and love. It arose during what O’Toole judiciously describes as one of the team’s “rough runs” in 2015.
“One of the things that brought us joy, during the growing pains of being an expansion team, was the chicken bucket,” he says. “It started out of nowhere — I’d had a few beers, we all started talking about what a good value the chicken bucket was. You get two buckets for six people, everyone’s good ... and then all of a sudden, the chant started. It just started with us, but then it grew quickly.”
O’Toole thinks it’s caught on throughout the team's supporters because of its simplicity and absurdity. “People told us, ‘I can’t believe you’re chanting this," he says. "Then, all of a sudden, it started to build, and now at least a quarter of the stadium is doing it. It’s getting louder and harder to ignore.
The group has since created its own website and printed a line of shirts, and grown beyond its original core, with even Jack Harrison’s mom making her way to Section 206. And even though they’re still “off the grid” compared to official supporters’ group the Third Rail, they’re serious fans, thrilled to be both in the playoff mix and irreverently contributing to the team’s still-developing fan lore.
“It’s one of those silly supporters’ traditions,” O’Toole says. “A lot of the ex-pats who sit around us – they think it’s funny. They say this is the sort of thing we’re used to in England. This is the kind of thing that stays with the culture of the club. It’s snowballed nicely.”