The Team Is Dead, Long Live The Team.
In case anyone had any doubts, AC St. Louis is dead. Not with a bang or a whisper, its just sort of expiring in a corner. I was optimistic as the season ended that we’d get a new owner and things would improve, but that optimism seems to have been misplaced. Our last great hope for a new investor has slunk quietly away and now there is no news coming out of Soccer Park. Certain members of the front office have stated “off the record” that there is hope the team will re-surface in 2012, but even the most die hard of fans has to take that with a giant block of salt. Hell, even if they do come back they should re-brand and put that whole nasty chapter behind them.
From day one we all saw signs of trouble with the franchise, but our enthusiasm for a new team to call our own carried us past that. Simple mistakes were written off as learning experiences and growing pains. Now we can clearly see that they were all symptomatic of bigger problems. I’ve taken a lot of shit from two or three internet warriors out there that I’m bad for soccer and that the St. Louligans hurt AC STL. Frankly, I don’t care what a guy types on a keyboard from the comfort of his mom’s basement, but I do take exception to the fact that we hurt this team in any way. We spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours promoting and extolling the AC experience. We passed out tickets and brought friends and neighbors to the park. We created events and tailgates. Went to bars and schools to talk to owners, patrons, coaches and athletic directors. But somehow we are to blame for the failure of our club? To those who think that we were the problem, I offer the advice of the wise and compassionate Bishop Brown- “Go home and masturbate.” Seriously. The death of AC STL affects us way more than it will ever affect you. While you were sitting on your hands on the other side of the pitch we were creating something. We got invested emotionally and obsessively. Just because you’re afraid of alcohol and swear words doesn’t mean you’re the only good people in the world. You should have come over and met us and you’d have found out that a lot of us are good people too. I took abuse for backing Jeff Cooper when the Vaids bailed out and I took abuse for not supporting Cooper for all he did for Soccer in St. Louis when it became apparent that this was all going pear shaped. To be fair, I never blamed Cooper for anything and always appreciated what he did for us. I even gave him a free St. Louligan shirt. It’s not often that I give a multi-millionaire a gift. (I really should ask for the shirt back or make him pay for it.) But you can say what you want. Whatever the reasons, our team is tits up. I didn’t do it, I just have to live with it.
But enough of that. I’ve been through all the stages of grief and now I’ve accepted that AC is dead and I’m moving on. “But Brad”, you’re asking yourselves, “how will you survive without live soccer and your weekends out with the Louligans?” Well good news sports fans, we do have soccer and a reason to get together.
Kyle (my tattooed friend) has been talking about the St. Louis Lions in the USL-PDL since I met him. I always wanted to go, but never made it out last season. I had planned all along to support them more this season and go to a few games, but now that AC is dead I’ll be buying season tickets to the Lions and making the trek to Cottleville for every home game. Best thing is, they want us there. I’ve talked to their General Manager online and in person and they are excited to have the Louligans come out to support the Lions. Like AC, they cater to the casual fan and soccer mom crowd, but they also want a little bit of our flavor of support. So we need a team and they need more fans. Problem solved.
I know it’s a bit farther away and that USL-PDL is a lower level than NASL, but its what we’ve got. If things progress the Lions might move up to USL-Pro (they have the ambition) and the NASL may not even exist if Traffic Sports decides not to support the league. We could be back at division 2 in a couple seasons. And even if we’re not we’ll have a team and a reason to get together, drink some beers and harass referees and opposing teams. I can honestly say that after I’ve had a taste of the Soccer Supporter life live and in person, I can’t live without it. I need a reason to look forward to game day. I’ve met 50 good friends through going to games and I want to meet more.
Hopefully some of the existing Lions fans will welcome us to their park and join with us and our numbers will grow. We had about 100 regular Louligans at Soccer Park. I know we won’t keep all of them, but I hope most of you will come with me and the rest of the gang to our new home ground. We’ve lost Athletica and AC St. Louis, but we’re still standing. Our logo will continue to include the AC fleur-de-lis as a tribute to our beginnings and to honor where we met. I still love AC and I wish they were still around, but it does no good to dwell on the past. If AC returns in some form or fashion we’ll support them too because we want soccer in St. Louis to succeed at all levels but for now our efforts will be focused on the Lions. Our team is dead, long live our team.
Also, to keep in shape during the offseason, we’ve adopted the Illinois Piasa. An indoor team playing in the PASL. Their owner made friends with the guys at Floodplain Footy and personally invited the Louligans to come out and be a part of the fun. Since part of our Mission Statement is to support all forms of soccer in the St. Louis Metro Area, we embrace the opportunity. Again, part of the fun is just getting together with the crew and having fun. Even if you’re not a fan of the indoor game you should at least come out and have a beer and a few laughs. Follow the Chickenhead facebook page or the Floodplain Footy site to keep up to date with when and where we’re headed next. We’re also working on getting a season ticket package for Louligans to the Lions games and St. Louligan scarves. We’ll let you know more as soon as we get any concrete information. We’ve also started a twitter feed for those who prefer to keep in the loop that way. @stlouligans
In the words of the modern day poet, Jay-Z, “we’re on to the next one.”