Latin American group 'Los Locos' brings the rhythm to Hamilton's Forge FC supporters group
The group will be in the stands Wednesday evening when Forge FC faces Mexico City's Cruz Azul in Canada
Growing up in Chile, there were two things brothers Marco and Claudio Leon dedicated their time to the most: soccer and music.
"Soccer was always part of my life," said Claudio. "All my friends would just get together after dinner and we would kick the ball around on the dirt road."
Their love for the game matched that for music. "During gatherings, somebody always steps up and starts playing the guitar and everybody joins in singing, right?" Marco said. "So [music is] something that [runs] in the family."
The brothers, now long-time residents of Hamilton, Ont., never thought they would get to combine those two passions until they helped form a Latin American drum group — and designed a drum — to cheer on Forge FC as part of the team's supporter group, the Barton Street Battalion.
They'll be in the stands Wednesday evening, beating and chanting as Forge FC faces Mexico City's Cruz Azul at Tim Hortons Field, for the first leg of the CONCACAF (The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) Champions League.
Marco and Claudio, who came to Canada as teenagers in 1988, joined the Barton Street Battalion in 2019 before the Canadian Premier League team's first game. As the battalion grew, Marco said, more people from Latin America started attending the games. Eventually, a Latin American group called Los Locos (Spanish for "The Crazy Ones") formed within the battalion.
"We're crazy about Forge FC so I guess that's why we call it Los Locos," said Claudio.
According to Marco, they chose the name to show off their Latin American culture, but also as a way of saying "we're here" to other Latin Americans who might want to join the battalion.
Claudio said after a while, he thought it would be a good idea to introduce a bit more Latin American culture to the battalion's chants.
Chilean drums now beat to the sound of Forge FC's supporters
"I always had an idea that I wanted a bombo murguero … because that's what they play back home, so I'm like it'd be really cool to have one of those."
A bombo murguero is a type of drum with a cymbal on top. These drums are commonly used in carnivals and soccer games in Latin America and Spain.
"My dad was back in Chile at the time and I'm going 'well, maybe, maybe,'" said Claudio. "It took me a while to find someone that made [the drums] and I actually ended up finding someone online from [my hometown, Villa Del Mar]."
That's when Marco and Claudio got to work and started sketching what would go on the drum's head, the area of the drum struck by the mallet.
"Marco and I got together and we put some ideas down on paper … and I sent them down to this guy from Bombos Murga from Chile, and, yeah, he worked with us, and we ended up picking what we wanted, and my dad brought it back for us."
Heartbeat of the group
Barton Street Battalion group leader Allan Gorman said Los Locos have become the spirit of the group.
"They're 100 per cent the heartbeat of the group. The noise and the passion they bring, just brings a whole element to us that makes our sounds and acts a thousand percent more than I could ever have dreamt of as a supporters group."
Gorman said since Los Locos took over the drumming, they have made the supporters group surpass all the expectations he had when the group was started with just over 20 members.
"Anytime you hear the game back or you see clips of our section in the stadium and what we sound like compared to what I thought it would have been, it's just night and day."
Growth in the future
Currently, the Barton Street Battalion has around 600 members and it keeps growing every day. Gorman said part of this is thanks to the excitement Los Locos have brought.
"They are phenomenal guys, they are so passionate and so happy and so enthusiastic that it's infectious to everyone else."
The battalion will be out in full form to support tonight, as will the Leon brothers and Los Locos.
Leon said that he hopes Los Locos becomes more of an official group within the battalion.
"Los Locos has started to be made official and that's why people refer to us like that now … maybe, eventually, we could even make our own Barton Street Battalion scarves with Los Locos on it."