Three weeks ago it was only a concept, an intangible idea. But on March 5, in a packed stadium filled with 55,297 raging fans all cloaked in black and red, the Golden Spike tradition was born.
Ninety minutes before Atlanta kicked off their inaugural match against New York Red Bulls, the home team arrived at the stadium greeted by a plethora of faithful supporters. As they approached the stadium, lying ahead of them was a Golden Spike stretching eight feet long, accompanied with markers to inscribe their names.
After the entirety of the team signed the spike and finished entering the building, all fans and supporters were invited to leave their mark on the club’s golden relic as well.
Fans filled the seats of Bobby Dodd as anticipation filled the air and just before the official player walkout, another figure appeared from within the tunnel. Sporting the red and black stripes, hip-hop artist, actor, and well recognized ATLien Yung Joc emerged from the darkness carrying a hammer, prepared to strike the Golden Spike for the very first time.
Surrounded by a massive sellout crowd, he climbed to the top of the platform fronting the stadium’s supporters section, wound up, and crashed the hammer into the club’s Golden Spike as he chanted A-T-L, which then echoed throughout the stadium, amplified by the voices of the fans.
A tradition driven by the spike, the city and the team are now equipped with energy and prepared for the match. However, this custom does not halt at kickoff.
After the match, another legitimate, authentic golden spike from the track yards of Atlanta is awarded to a top performing player voted on by fans via Twitter. Despite the 2-1 defeat in the inaugural match, Atlanta United’s first-ever goal scorer in history, Yamil Asad, received the spike from the supporters. Asad then approached the club’s “railroad track”, one hand on the spike, one hand wrapped around a hammer, and drove it in with the combined force of his hand and the crowd’s voices rooting him on. A moment that will not soon be forgotten.
In Atlanta’s second home match, the tradition continued on. This time, it was popular Atlanta rapper Rich Homie Quan who received the honor of hammering the Golden Spike prior to kickoff and after a two-goal standout performance which inspired a 4-0 victory, it was Josef Martinez who was voted to receive the Golden Spike following the final whistle.
In 1837, a spike was driven into Georgia’s red clay leading to the formation of a city. Now, another spike is driven into the ground. Signifying the birth of a movement. The connection to the world. The uniting of cultures, generations and backgrounds. Let the Golden Spike be a reminder of our beginnings and our rise as a city and a club.
An everlasting tradition is officially born in the ATL.
Learn more about the tradition of the Golden Spike here.