Stealing a play out of George Washington’s 18th-century playbook, the South Bay Eagles Alliance “crossed the Mississippi” just in time to storm Soldier Field.
Based out of southern Los Angeles County, the South Bay Eagles Alliance began at Chelsea Pub and Lounge – a restaurant and bar in Hermosa Beach, California. Some 15 years ago, twin brothers and Philadelphia natives Kieran and Kirk Harrington bartended and managed at the pub.
On Sundays, they would play the Eagles’ games on every TV, even displaying an Eagles-themed stuffed animal and flag.
The crowd was smaller then. Only about a dozen Eagles fans showed up for games – sometimes less, depending on how the season was going.
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Nick Macko, a graduate of Archbishop Ryan High School in Northeast Philadelphia and devout Eagles fan, fondly recalls the group’s formation.
"When I met the brothers, which is a hysterical story, it was two Philly kids accidentally meeting and hitting it off right away after a friendly dispute about whether either one was actually from Philly," Macko said. "We quizzed each other on neighborhoods, high schools, sports teams – the typical ‘who do you know?’ Philly-style of pumping your own chest."
It wasn’t until a few years ago that the group really began to expand at an exponential rate — with a loyal following. It became obvious that they would need a name, “a few of the originals had a little round table discussion and brainstormed…we all agreed on the South Bay Eagles Alliance,” said Macko.
It is the group’s most recent antics which have caused new buzz. Donning Eagles garb and pushing off into uncertain waters, the South Bay Eagles Alliance replicated George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River. But this time, in slightly warmer California weather. And instead of the Delaware River, they’re “crossing the Mississippi” to fight the Bears!
Since their official formation, the group has been hard at work to encompass all avenues of fandom. Drawing inspiration from both coasts, the South Bay Eagles Alliance successfully dropped a line of merch symbolizing their loyalty to Philadelphia and California residency. “JolDesign in Hermosa Beach is a huge supporter of our group and is quick with production for our new members in the area,” said Macko.
This year, the group partnered with King Harbor Brewery in Hermosa Beach to produce a Philly-style ale strictly for the group which is featured at their events and tailgates. Even Budlight and Fireball have helped the South Bay Eagles Alliance with promotional banners and cool swag.
“It started with five or six…now it’s over 200 people,” said Brian Kelca, expressing his excitement for this weekend’s matchup. A Pennsylvania native and Upper Merion graduate, Kelca, who’s pictured wearing #80 and waving Eagles flag, said “It’s like a family, people miss that culture.”
“Our Sunday’s are not just about the Eagles…we’ve turned into a huge family. We see each other over the holidays, the summer…we have even been to each other’s weddings! Everything we do is for the group, for the fun and good times, and especially because we love the Eagles,” said Macko.
Tune in to NBC10 Sunday, Jan. 6 at 4:40 p.m. as the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.