By now most of you know that PRO outdoor soccer is coming back to St. Louis in the form of USL Pro. Not only is it a return from the wilderness for those of us who’ve been waiting for pro soccer since the loss of AC St.Louis- it’s also a starting point for a lot of soccer fans who are new to the game or weren’t around in 2010. The good news is, this time we’re ready. Instead of 7 or so loosely organized supporter groups just starting up, we’ve got a bit of infrastructure in place. The St. Louigans have existed since those early groups banded together back in 2010. We’ve maintained a presence and continued to make friends and support local soccer where we could. Primarily with the USL-PDL St. Louis Lions. We’ve built a base and grown slowly to this point where we’re ready to jump into the deep end with some of the other great supporter groups in USL-Pro without having to start from scratch. BUT… We need more members. Right now we have around 50 regulars that attend events on a frequent basis and probably another 50 that occasionally show up and identify themselves as Louligans. A good start. But I expect our numbers to double or triple by the time our new team kicks off in 2015. We’ve already seen a big uptick in twitter “followers” and facebook “likes” since the announcement. One question that keeps coming up from some of the new people is, “How do I join?” Well here is the official answer:
SHOW UP, MAKE NOISE, HAVE FUN!
That’s it. Full Stop. If you show up at a game and hang out with us and have a good time, you’ve done your part. Hell, just clicking the links it took to get here and reading this article basically makes you a St. Louligan. But it really is that simple. We don’t charge membership dues because we don’t want to discourage anyone low on funds from being a part of the action. If you can make it out we want your voice. We do occasionally sell T-shirts or scarves or pass the hat to get money for something we’re working on, but those are voluntary actions. We don’t have a formal roll call. After you’ve shown up a few times you’ll make friends and find your spot in the group. We really try our best to be welcoming, but I understand it can be intimidating to walk into a rowdy mob. Please, make that step and introduce yourself- in no time at all you’ll be in on all the inside jokes and having a good time. If we see someone standing around the edges of the crowd we’ll make it a point to introduce ourselves and bring you in. Please invite your friends. We’re all in this together to support our local teams.
Now, as far as the leadership, division of labor and how the hell anything gets done, that’s by committee. We don’t have officers or elected board members. I usually encourage everyone to claim the title of Vice President of something ridiculous. Most often I’m Vice President of Silly Hats but sometimes I’m VP of poorly worded web articles. Anyway, what we ask is that you do what you want to do. The thought being you’ll do a good job at something you enjoy. So, if you like to sing or chant (or come up with songs or chants) you can focus on that. If you like to plan things you can help organize events or road trips. If you enjoy creative endeavors you can paint banners or make signs. Some people just like to show up and drink beer. Some people like to be official greeters that try to introduce new people around. Some people like to help set-up or clean up tailgate parties. You get the point, there’s plenty to do and everybody pitches in. We usually have a couple people that kind of take charge of situations so once you start coming around you’ll get to know the lay of the land and figure out how you can help. If you want to be a leader, you have to show up a lot and earn it. People naturally listen to people who’ve proven themselves. In the future we may get to a point where we need to elect officers and do an official organization chart, but for now- we’re just having fun.
So. This summer is time to practice up for 2015. Luckily we have a lot of things going on for new people to get to know everybody. First, we’ll still be going to and tailgating before all the St. Louis Lions home games. Just plan on it. There’s also a new men’s outdoor team, FC Bordo, playing at SLUH this summer- all our pre-games for those games will be at the CWE iTap. And finally there’s Fire & Ice SC on the East Side, yes, it’s women’s soccer- but they’re a damn good team and fun to watch. Aside from games we’ll also be having a watch party for the Champions League Final at iTap Chesterfield. We’ll be throwing a big tailgate for the Bosnia vs Ivory Coast friendly at the Dome. And the World Cup this summer will give us plenty of opportunities to get together and party with the American Outlaws-STL.
Finally- we’ve got a big tent and lots of different kinds of people. Chances are you’ll click with someone. We have members that drink a lot, a little and not at all. We have people who’s language is g-rated and people who you’d swear don’t have a mother by the language they use. We have families and people that bring their kids (they usually sit farther away because of the aforementioned language), we have college kids who love to party and we have middle aged men, like me, that like to pretend they’re still young and have a few beers and let loose on the weekend. We have men, women, children and a Rocko. All this to say that we’ll make room for anyone. We have decent numbers and a relationship with the Lions, Fire & Ice and the new USL-Pro team. Even if you don’t want to tailgate or stand in our section, you can be a Louligan. We want everybody in the park singing and chanting and having fun. You can still wear our shirt on the other side of the stand- in fact that almost makes you cooler. This season we’ll also have the Gateway Goonies joining us. They’re our partners, but they’ve got their own identity. They’re high school guys that obviously don’t drink beer. They felt like they wanted to carve out their own niche, so if you’re in high school- maybe you’d be more comfortable in their group. They’ll get all the benefits of being a St. Louligan, but they’re gonna do their own thing. Whatever happens, we’re all here to support our team and we’d be happy if you call yourself a Louligan. That all said, we get that we’re not everyone’s cup of tea. We can be loud, aggressive and off-putting to some people, that’s our charm. We always try to tell people with kids not to sit by us, but sometimes they refuse to move. That rarely works out well for anyone. If you want to join the party you’re more than welcome, but if you think we’re foul-mouthed drunks you should sit as far away from us as possible so everyone can be happy.
Now that you know all that you probably want to know how to look the part. Currently we’re all sold out of the the first 2 scarves. Similarly our 2 official tshirts have sold out (but we may do a new run of the latest one). We’ve decided to wait on a new scarf until right before the 2015 USL-Pro season kicks off. We’ll probably do another T-shirt for next season too (once we know the new team’s colors). In the meantime you can go to our CafePress Store to get a T-shirt or flask or thong. Whatever you’re into, no judgement.
So that’s about it. Like I said at the beginning, it pretty much boils down to Show Up, Make Noise, Have Fun! (actually, that might be good on the back of a scarf). And in case you haven’t noticed, we’re also very Silly- “This Is Silly!” is a battle cry of sorts. We really try to have as much fun as is humanly possible. We hope you join us this summer and get to know us all. We hope you have fun and stick around. We all need this group to get bigger and better to support our new PRO team.
Oh yeah, one more thing. The Chupacabra joke. Lots of people have stumbled upon us and want to know why we keep calling the new pro team the Chupacabras. Other people are worried that will actually be the new team’s name. In the words of coach Claude Anelka, “Be Calm!” We came up with the name on a podcast some time last year when the rumors started getting serious about us getting a team. We’d been through this before only to come up short. These rumors were believable, but we really did think that Pro Soccer in St. Louis was the mythical beast that you catch a glimpse of, or someone else claims to know all about, but you never get any actual proof. Kinda like a Chupacabra or Bigfoot. We decided that the perfect team name would be the Chupacabras. From then on, everytime we heard a rumor or talked to someone about the progress of the team acquisition we called it a Chupacabra sighting. We would post a picture or mention Chupacabras on facebook or twitter whenever we got some good “news”. Chupacabras just became the codeword for a USL-Pro team. When talking about it in groups or get togethers it just became an easy way to say- the USL Pro team that St. Louis might get. So that’s why we call the team the Chupacabras. We did tell the new GM Jeremy Alumbaugh at our very first meeting that he had our permission to use the name if they want. He politely declined. So, no, the team will not be named the St. Louis Chupacabras. They’re working on the name as we speak and I’m sure they’ll announce it soon. I’ve even heard that they may ask for some fan input in the name/logo department. Whatever the name of the team ends up being we will support them. And to a lot of us they will always be the Chupacabras.
Brad- Vice President of Silly Hats