FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A loud and distinctive crack resonates throughout Gillette Stadium’s section 143, known colloquially as The Fort, when the octet of end zone militia fires blanks from its muskets in celebration of every New England Revolution goal.
The noise and subsequent cloud of smoke is all part of the show on game days, but it can come suddenly and startle any fan, even the most enthusiastic supporters in the Midnight Riders and Rebellion, who sit directly behind the line of fire.
Jett Creighton is braver than most. She soaks in every sight, smell and sound at the stadium, especially the pandemonium that ensues in The Fort when her hometown team scores a goal, musket blasts and all.
But Jett Creighton is also younger than most – just shy of 2 1/2 years old, in fact, making her one of the smallest and most ardent Revs fans in all of New England.
“She knows when we’re singing and she’ll clap along with us, and she’ll bounce around and get really happy,” said Jett’s mother, Aoife Creighton, who is a member of the Midnight Riders with her entire family. “She’s known the chants for about a year now and she knows everyone in The Fort.”
Little Jett is one of a small but growing number of toddlers who are the children of Revolution fans who also attended games with their parents when they were growing up.
Aoife and her husband, Chris, went to games with their parents. Chris even attended the very first Revolution game at the old Foxboro Stadium with his father in 1996.
The Midnight Riders said Jett is their first third-generation member. But other toddlers throughout the stadium share similar stories.
Two-year-old Gabriel’s father, Matt DiPierro, attended games with his father.
John Kelvey grew up supporting the team with his entire family and keeps up his fandom with his wife and five-month-old son Owen.
There’s likely even more of these third-generation fans throughout New England, which is significant since the club, one of Major League Soccer’s original teams, opens its 24th home slate Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium against Columbus Crew SC.
“Some of the newer markets in MLS have skyrocketed quickly, but I think passing team fandom on generationally also helps grow the game and grow the culture,” Kelvey said. “That generational shift is happening with me. As a young kid, I got hooked on this team and now I want to pass it on to my son.”
Both DiPierro and his father, Paul, also started going to games in 1996 and have taken an active role in turning Gabriel into a fan. “Papa Paul” got his grandson a Revolution jersey – a youth small that Gabriel currently swims in – for Christmas.
“He’ll fit into it when he’s seven,” DiPierro joked. “One of my first thoughts when I knew I was having a kid was that I couldn’t wait to take him to a Revs game. I’ve got so many special moments that I remember from going with my dad, and I hope I can have the same with my son.”
The club has also played a key role, both on the periphery and as an engaged party, in matching many moms and dads. Aoife and Chris Creighton attended Revolution games as teens and used to tailgate together in the parking lot and sit together in The Fort.
“I remember I used to play with his hair,” Aoife said. “There was also a lot of caring banter from the older supporters when we were dating. Monty Rodrigues, the former head of the Midnight Riders, used to say, ‘No one messes with my little sister.’
“Without the Revs and the Midnight Riders, Chris and I wouldn’t know each other. Continuing on and introducing our daughter to what’s always been like a big, extended family was really important to us.”
A number of Midnight Riders attended the Creightons’ wedding in Maine in 2016. During the celebration, they adapted some of the chants typically sung on gamedays for the newlyweds.
“We love you, we love, we love you, and we support the Creightons, the Creightons, the Creightons,” Chris said, to the cadence of a popular cheer. “It was really something, on my wedding day, to have all those faces there chanting for us.”
Sometimes, though, Revolution fandom isn’t shared, it’s acquired. That was the case for Kelvey, who took his high school sweetheart and now-wife Amanda to numerous dates at Gillette Stadium.
“I couldn’t see not going to games, it’s just been in my blood for such a long time,” Kelvey said. “I started dragging Amanda along and it became our thing after a while.”
Kelvey even contacted Cathal Conlon, the Revolution’s vice president of marketing and community relations, to arrange his wedding proposal on the field before a game.
As such, Aug. 6, 2011 isn’t just the day Diego Fagundez scored his first professional goal.
It’s also the day she said yes.
“We went on the field for warmups and she thought that was it, then I got down and asked her to marry me,” Kelvey said. “It was on the big video screen. Cathal even got a nice country song to play: ‘She’s Everything’ by Brad Paisley.”
Kelvey, who also bought tickets for Amanda’s family, said he was confident about his proposal, even with thousands of people watching.
“I wasn’t worried. If I was, there was no way I was doing that.”
Conlon, upon hearing the Kelveys gave birth to a son they now take to games, felt excited.
A lifelong Liverpool fan, he understood what it meant to pass on support for one’s local team.
“I grew up a Liverpool fan because my father was a Liverpool fan, generation on generation,” Conlon said. “It’s exciting now that MLS through 24 years is passing its fandom down. It’s really crazy to think about.”
Like their parents, Jett, Gabriel and Owen probably want to attend every game. They can’t because the MLS calendar cuts across New England’s harshest cold snaps and oppressive heat waves, but you’ll still see plenty of them at Gillette Stadium over the course of this season.
“We support our team in good times and bad,” Aoife said. “Jett knows it, too. That’s your team. That’s who you support.”
For these tykes, New England Revolution fandom is in their blood.