A Bright Future for St. Louis Soccer and the St. Louligans
By Jack Burton
What’s up, footie fans? It’s a pretty cool time to be a soccer fan in St. Louis. We’re on the heels of 2 huge international friendlies in St. Louis which drew over 100,000 fans combined. We have two pro indoor soccer teams gearing up for the start of their seasons. The US has already secured their spot in the World Cup with more qualifiers to play. The US and Bosnian national teams are rumored to hopefully be playing a friendly here in the spring. And we now have the news of a possible pro team, the Chupacabras, coming in 2014. This in addition to the Lions and WPSL Midwest Champions Fire and Ice playing next year. It’s a good time to be a soccer fan and, if you haven’t already, it’s a good time to hook up with the city’s soccer support group, the St. Louligans. There’s no membership fee and it’s a really easy group to join. I was a new member a couple of years ago and now I proudly call myself a Louligan.
Let me back up and explain the events that brought me to the St. Louligans. It actually started in 2011 when I tripped out to the Glavin Complex to see a charity screening of Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story sponsored by the Lions and the St. Louligans. I watched the film, hung out, talked to Brad, one of the head Louligans, a bit at the pavilion, and left before the Lions match because of other plans. That was all.
Close to a year later, in January 2012, I was surfing the net and found out about the Illinois Piasa. Their last game of the season was coming up and it sounded like a fun time. After clicking a couple of links I stumbled across the Louligan webpage and and found them on Facebook. There were some posts about the final match so I asked what I needed to do to connect with the group. I was told I just had to come out and cheer. So, I grabbed my buddy Scotty and came out to the game. A couple of people remembered me, everyone started talking, and we had a great time.
After that I started posting on the Louligan Facebook page where discussion was revolving around the upcoming Lions season. I attended the scarf party and bought a 2012 season ticket. I probably met and had conversations with 10-12 people that day which got me really excited for the summer.
After that I came out to matches and got to know everyone. I hung out before the games at the pavilion and during the games I stood in the stands and cheered. Through the course of the season we all got to know each other and had fun. I was even honored with the task of walking out to the center of the pitch to hand out the Louligan Player of the Year awards. That was definitely one of the fun parts.
Whats my point? Actually, I have two.
The first point is for new people:
Being part of the group is easy. Just come out, cheer, and find people to hang out with. I came out to a match two years ago and started talking to people. Then I came out to more matches and talked to more people. Some people were drinking beer, some weren’t. It didn’t matter. You don’t have to drink if you don’t want to. If you’re at the game with us, you’re a Louligan. And now there are teams in Illinois and Missouri for both indoor and outdoor. Hopefully there’s at least one match close to you.
My second point is for anyone of us who’s ever come out to a match:
Any event or gesture can be the trigger that gets a person involved in the group. For me, it all started with wanting to see a movie. If I had been able to stay for the match that day maybe I would have joined up sooner, but I still found my way back. This trigger will be different for everyone. Wear your Lions/Piasa/Ambush/”any other team” gear. Talk about the weekend matches. You’ll be surprised at the number of soccer fans out there. Nationally the sport of soccer is growing and we want the St. Louligans to grow as well. If you find that soccer fan out there, and they will be out there, bring ’em along. The more the merrier.
This is a great time to be a soccer fan in America. More and more people are understanding the sport and the culture that surrounds it. When someone watches an MLS match in Portland they see the power of the Timbers Army. US matches constantly show the American Outlaws and you can hear their chants throughout the match. Some fans see that and want to be part of that experience. The St. Louligans are part of that experience and the best part is, the more people we have, the better the experience is.
If you’re scared or intimidated about meeting the group you shouldn’t be. We can be loud, silly, and let’s face it, drunk, but we’re all here to have fun and support our teams. We welcome everyone who wants to show up and participate. Just be cool, chant, and hang out. There is no price for entry. We are all soccer supporters.
We would love it if some new faces joined us. If the pro team rumors are true, we’ll need more people to support our pro team. Let’s show the other teams in the league that St. Louis can bring the noise and support our club. We’re ready for this!
Come out to a match and look us. We’ll get you a beer and start making introductions. Then, just like that, you’ll be part of the group.
We can’t wait to meet you.