The Red Partisans were founded in the build up to Derry City’s 2013 season, making our first trips during the pre season campaign of that year. The group originated from the desire of a handful of politically active or at least politically interested Derry fans to change what supporting Derry City was all about. The Brandywell was for years famed for its atmosphere, in particular the old roofed terrace of the stadiums “jungle” before its closure. In recent years however, we felt that had gone. It had been replaced by dwindling, disinterested crowds. We wanted to change that, taking inspiration from some groups in England and Scotland as well as from others in the growing Irish scene, some new, some old. We seen that importing ideas usually more associated with continental Europe or South America could have a massive impact in Irish stadiums as well. Shortly after formation, ourselves, along with the already existent Jungle Side Boys (JSB) decided to move to the Brandywell’s block K and create a focal point from which we could bring life back into the Derry City support. Like many groups we had our opposition – the club, stewards, other fans but most obstacles have been overcome, although that’s not to say there isn’t still a long way to go.
The politics of the group were never going to be any thing but anti fascist, anti discrimination and, to generalise, leftist. The majority, if not all of the groups founding members were also active in the formation of Derry AFA not long before, in fact the Partisans probably wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for ideas formed at AFA meetings. The group stemmed directly Derry AFA. One of the main questions we’ve been asked is “why”, from those under the impression that racism, discrimination and the likes were not a big issue in the Brandywell. To an extent they are right, comments of a racist nature are a rarity at Derry games, but our focus went beyond that. Casual racism in the city is widespread for example, people do not accept there is any issue with that, it is this type of mindset we hope to change. Furthermore, within the Brandywell itself, the likes of homophobia is rife. You will hear it every single match, In some chants from other parts of the stadium and from plenty of individuals, this is probably a reflection on the city more generally speaking, as it remains a significant problem, and it is these types of problems we hope to target. The political aspect of our group will probably always be a bone of contention for some within the Derry support. We’re not really bothered.
In terms of the present and future, we’re relatively pleased with how its gone, the influx of younger fans to our block continues, adopting the ideals of the group and we have established ourselves as a key part of the Derry support, gaining more widespread acceptance, even support from the rest of the crowd. The atmosphere has improved massively, although its still far from perfect and our politics are having an impact inside and outside the stadium, we have our own specific aims but generally speaking we just want to continue in the direction we are going, improving numbers and adding colour, noise, passion and enjoyment to the Brandywell.