Grand Rapids Football Club is a minor league soccer team. It was formed in early 2014, after a social media discussion brainstormed ideas about how to fund the venture. Enthusiasts wanted to mimic the success of clubs in Detroit and Lansing.
The club initially applied to the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the national fourth tier. However the partially crowd-funded business plan was refused by the league after the Midwest conference owners had voted the club in. The club ownership got together with that of AFC Ann Arbor, whose application to the NPSL had also been refused for different reasons, and formed the Great Lakes Premier League. This league started play in 2015 with five teams from three states.
GRFC play at Houseman Field in Midtown. Attendances averaged 4,509 over seven home games in the club's inaugural season. The club's first match was a 1-0 win in a friendly in Lansing against the reigning NPSL Midwest Conference champions Lansing United on May 9th, 2014. The winning goal was scored by Domenic Barone. The first league match was two weeks later on May 23rd at Oakland United, a 1-2 defeat with the goal scored by Noble Sullivan.
The club's first home match was on May 30th, 2014. After a sunny week, temperatures plummeted and persistent drizzle fell. It was almost poetic that the first home game would attract an attendance of 2,409; a staggering number considering the conditions. One of the comments from the NPSL on the club's application had referred to their forecast attendance of a thousand or so per game. "What if it rains, and no-one shows?"
On the pitch, GRFC ran out 5-1 winners against AFC Ann Arbor thanks to a Domenic Barone hat-trick, the first three goals scored at Houseman. The result would be key as they finished second in the final standings, just a point ahead of their nearest rivals.
The club's attendances grew from match to match, and reached a peak for the final home game, a friendly against Muskegon Risers. Both sides of Houseman Field were opened for the first time and 6,651 attended.
The club finished the 2014 season with a 3-2-3 record (wins, draws/ties and losses) in the league, and 5-3-5 overall. Top goalscorer was Domenic Barone with 7 in all games, while Noble Sullivan's 4 goals made him the club's top scorer in league play.