Look up at the Sounders FC billboards you see in the Seattle area and you will see the work of Jeff McIntyre. Read stories from November of 2007 about Drew Carey’s addition to the Sounders FC ownership group and you will likely see a picture that includes his work as well.
When Sounders FC season ticket holders get their tickets in the mail, they will see a bit of his work too.
The club sent out tickets yesterday and with them will come a scarf commemorating the inaugural game March 19 against the New York Red Bulls. Fans are encouraged to bring the scarf, manufactured by McIntyre’s Seattle-based Ruffneck Wear, to the season opener to raise over their heads.
McIntyre’s scarves were born of a visit to see Liverpool play at Anfield two years ago. He wanted to see a similar atmosphere at the Sounders games that he had season tickets to see over the last four years.
He has since seen enormous growth in his clientele at www.ruffneckwear.com, which he started alongside Erin O'Brien. From high school and youth clubs to colleges, pro teams and supporter groups, seemingly everyone with an interest in the world’s game has found themselves checking out his site. He has even expanded his business into the smaller clubs in England.
The main supporters group for the Sounders FC, the Emerald City Supporters, was one of the first groups to solicit his work and have ensure that the Sounders FC are the most in-demand club in his catalog.
Greg Mockos, a co-leader of the ECS alongside Keith Hodo, spent a good portion of life in Italy, where he learned the value that scarves and a crowd of standing fans can have at a soccer match.
“Scarves are important for the atmosphere. Everyone wants the stadium full of color and that provides that,” said Mockos, who has over 420 ECS members and will be based in the general admission sections in 121, 122 and 123.
“Soccer is a cultured sport. In Major League Baseball, you have hats. In the NFL, it’s jerseys. In soccer, it’s a scarf," McIntyre said. "It’s like a badge of honor for your favorite club.”
That honor reached its peak when McIntyre looked up from his car one day to see Sounders FC midfielder Freddie Ljungberg staring back at him from a giant billboard with a scarf raised over his head. But it wasn’t just any scarf.
“That was my first enormous sense of pride,” he said, noting that he designed the scarf held high above traffic. “It was amazing.”
When Drew Carey came to Seattle to announce his stake in the Sounders FC ownership group, he was given an ECS scarf, again, one of his products. Nearly every picture of Carey from that afternoon has that scarf draped over his shoulders.
Opening day will be the same way. He will be in section 105 with his scarf raised over his head with 20,000 other season ticket holders.