Middletown, N. J. – Fans in the National Hockey League are unlike any other. With tremendous passion and at times, crazed lunacy, their goal is simple ; Energize their favorite team to victories that seem unlikely and send any fan of the opponent who dared enter the arena boasting their colors home as miserable as possible.
The Islanders have found success not only on the ice, but in the stands as well. A renewed energy and passion is oozing from the fan base that has not been seen in years. Older fans who long for the days of Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Billy Smith and Bob Nystrom are finally being rewarded for their patience. The younger generation does not know what it is like to celebrate an Islanders championship yet but the nostalgic feel circumventing the club’s history makes them hungrier than a lion who has not eaten in a week.
All this brings us to the celebrated seventh man at Nassau Coliseum each and every home game. They call themselves the Blue and Orange Army and are a colorful mix of young and old passionate fans eager to taste success. They are always the loudest cheering section and can be heard bellowing throughout the arena into the hallways and restrooms. It is a very underrated notion in professional sports : how a group of fans more zealous than everyone else can really instill confidence and a renewed drive into a team that might be struggling at the time on the ice or field.
Below, you will find a first hand, unedited account of how the Blue and Orange Army came to be from one of their founding members, Tom Ballantyne. We thank Tom for his contribution to EyesOnIsles and wish them nothing but raspy voices for the next century of Isles hockey.
The Blue and Orange Army
By Tom Ballantyne
“We stand and cheer the entire year, and we just can’t seem to get enough of you!”
Every night at the Nassau Coliseum when the New York Islanders are playing, and you are in the crowd, you may hear these words being sung as part of a song. You look around, wanting to know where this is coming from. Finally, you realize this song, as well as countless others, is being sung by the fans in Section 329. You probably sit there, as you’re watching the game, wondering who these fans are, what their story is, how are they able to do this game in and game out, every game, every season. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Blue and Orange Army.
How would I know the name of this “faction”, as they would most likely be referred to in the WWE? That would be because I am one of the founding members of this Army, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. A little history lesson is needed here. You see, it all started during the 2006-2007 Islanders’ season. My brother, John Ballantyne, along with his friends had gotten season tickets in Section 329, and them, along with Bill McCue, who is commonly referred to as Westfall by all of us, were always loud and never afraid of saying what they wanted to say. Now, at this time, it was just the five of them, along with Westfall’s “partner in crime”, Silent Phil. Now over the years, the group slowly grew, as the team got worse, everyone started to unite and show the boys that we would always have their backs.
During the 2008-2009 campaign, Westfall started to chant “John Tavares” after every opposing goal. Tom LoFaso, or Pinhead, as so many of you better know him as, along with myself, Will Teese and Justin Maier, slowly began to join in the chant, as we realized that John Tavares could possibly be the difference-maker and superstar we have all been hoping for. It was during that time that we became friends with Westfall and Silent Phil and actually started to sit with them up top in Section 329. Pinhead created a “Countdown to Draft Day” sign, after Westfall continued to ask us “How many days til draft day?” and we had no idea, so Pinhead started the official countdown to draft day and the countdown to John Tavares began. Slowly, but surely, using old songs from when my brother first started cheering from 329 with his season tickets, we began to grow into a stabilized unit.
We officially formed the Blue and Orange Army during the 2009-2010 season, deciding it was time to take a step forward and try to make having fun a slightly more serious thing in order to support the New York Islanders better. The following year, Fess joined our section and quickly became another one of our great leaders. Along with Fess’ great lyrical skills, we’ve added more songs to our original songs. We’ve grown as a cohesive unit, wanting to just have fun and support the boys in blue and orange, hence the name. You’re probably wondering what our original songs were, or what some of our best songs are. Well, I’ll name a few, but check them all out at www.blueandorangearmy.com.
We are now in year three of our creation, and continue to grow every year. We welcome everyone to come stand, (we don’t sit while the game is being played), with us and sing songs and just have fun with a bunch of crazy Isles’ fans. Of course, we know we’re crazy, but that’s what makes us fun and different. We’re crazy about this team and it’s the number one thing we care about. We don’t always go crazy, but when we do, it’s because we just can’t seem to get enough of the New York Islanders. So if you want to have fun, go crazy and cheer for the boys in blue and orange, come stand with us, we know you want to.
Top 10 Blue and Orange Army songs: My perspective (check out the lyrics on our website)
10) T-res (Tune of “Johnny Comes Marching In”)
9) Oh Long Island (Tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In”
8) We Are the Islanders
7) Hey Josh Bailey (Tune of “Hey Baby”
6) We Love Ya!
5) Doug Weight (Tune of “Olé”)
4) Blue Orange!
3) Brad Boyes, Brad Boyes Whatcha Gonna Do (Tune of “Bad Boys”)
2) The Rangers Family (Tune of “The Addams Family”)
1) Just Can’t Get Enough (Tune of “Just Can’t Get Enough”)
Head on over to their Facebook page and Twitter and give them a like and follow. Next time you are at the Coliseum, stop up and say hi to the best seventh man team in the business. Nobody does it better.
Thanks for reading and for the continued support of EyesOnIsles. Your pre-game is coming up later this afternoon to get you amped for tonight’s epic game five at Consol Energy Center.