On a hill overlooking the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood is Nashville SC’s new stadium, Geodis Park. Across from it on Bransford Avenue is the home base of a soccer prophet who has led fans of the soccer club in the wilderness for nearly three years.
Until May 1.
The Nashville SC super fan known has Soccer Moses led 3,000 Nashville fans into the supporters’ section on the north end of Geodis Park for its grand opening against the Philadelphia Union. As the chosen one, the biblical-esque character has guided Nashville fans on a journey that began at Nissan Stadium in 2020.
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Soccer Moses’ camp on Bransford is labeled with a mural of him pointing towards stadium. But it’s the man behind the beard, local barber and Jars of Clay lead guitarist Stephen Mason, that saw the club’s path flash before his eyes while entering the gates for the club’s first game at the park – at last, a permanent home.
“It was pure joy,” Mason said, steps from the park’s southeast entrance. “We’ve been doing that walk since (Nashville played) at Vanderbilt Stadium, the Sounds’ baseball stadium – when we were in USL. (Sunday) was a moment to remember, looking back behind me and seeing all these fans from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds, coming together to celebrate in one voice. It was magical. ”
The birth of Soccer Moses
Mason is a founding member of the Christian rock band Jars of Clay. Over time, he has made friends, one of which is JT Daly from the indie rock band Paper Route.
It was Daly’s story about watching former Nigerian national team midfielder Victor Moses score Nigeria’s only goal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup that prompted Daly to shout in an Irish pub, “Let my people goal!”
Daly told Mason the story, and Mason found the phrase catchy enough to photoshop it onto a T-shirt. But for Nashville’s first MLS match in February 2020, Mason decided to become the Moses on the shirt.
“It started as a joke and then it got carried away,” Mason said.
“And you fast-forward three, long years in the wilderness, and we ended up at the promised land,” he added, pointing to the stadium. “I’m feeling really grateful for the people alongside in this journey that’ve supported the club, the community around it and watched it grow to where we are today.”
Moses’ soccer future
When he isn’t playing his guitar, Mason cuts hair at that brick abode on Bransford, known as The Handsomizer barbershop. On match days, it becomes a tailgate and a daily reminder of why he is Soccer Moses.
“We want to see access to soccer for everybody, no matter where they are from or their (financial) situation,” Mason said. “Continue to support Kickin ‘It 615, who is getting kids excited about soccer and just growing the game in this town. There is no ceiling.”
For stories about Nashville SC or Soccer in Tennessee, contact Drake Hills at DHills@gannett.com. Follow Drake on Twitter at @LiveLifeDrake. Connect with Drake on Instagram at @drakehillssoccer and on Facebook.