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Loyalty far from home: San Fran Backers profile

Posted Oct 6, 2012

About twenty years ago, a former Buffalonian made a deal with a bar owner in San Francisco.

“If you open at 10 a.m. on Bills gamedays, I promise I will fill the bar.”

San Francisco Bills Backers founder Martin Hickey knew it was a promise he could keep. A group of dedicated Bills fans have packed the tiny Northstar Café each gameday since.

And by packed, current member David Kane says he means packed. A typical San Francisco dive bar, the Northstar is filled up to – or really, over – the brim with up to 80 loyal Bills fans on Sunday mornings in the fall. Members have come and gone, but Kane says they’ve never gone back on their founder’s promise.

“The Northstar takes care of us, and we take care of them by coming out each Sunday,” Kane said. “49ers fans come in there and can’t understand why their game isn’t on.”

Every few years when the Bills travel out West to face the 49ers on their home turf, the Backers meet gameday mornings at their weekly homebase and rent buses to the stadium from there. Kane says the tailgating isn’t quite the same in San Francisco, but the group loves when they can watch their hometown team play in person.

So when you’re watching this Sunday’s game, know that those Bills fans in the crowd might not be able to experience gamedays at the Ralph, but their dedication from the opposite end of the country should not be underestimated.

If you’re in San Francisco and want to join in on the fun, head to the Northstar Cafe at 1560 Powell Street this Sunday to watch your Bills take on the San Francisco 49ers.

Not in San Francisco? Click here to locate your local Bills Backers club.