Pat Mahoney, van driver extraordinaire and the architect of the Snow Bowl, makes the best of his sick day and writes up his history with the group. “Living Louigan” is the interactions and perspectives of our members as they’ve grown with the Louligans. If you’ve got an experience you want to share, let us know and we’ll happily publish.
So a sick day from work, why not talk about one’s origin story with the group?
As a child, I was fortunate enough to grow up with soccer much like many of my colleagues in St. Louis. I remember watching my Father play indoor at Dellwood Sports Complex when I was just a few years old. Add to that, we would hit up the old barn (The Arena) for Steamers games whenever possible as my old man is just as much a fan of the game. I began to play outdoor soccer in the CYC leagues when I was about 3 or 4 years old. It was fun & and I was an okay player, nothing to write home about at that age. Jump ahead to 4th grade, I had transitioned to public school due to my parents separating and my soccer playing followed suit to the North County Travel League. I was fortunate enough that the team I joined was very skilled and that my coach, was also an excellent one. I kept playing and even made the Hazelwood Central squad my freshmen year. At the time I didn’t really see my future playing soccer as I was only okay (very fast, good ball movement, no shot whatsoever), and after only playing a handful of games, I decided it was time to ‘retire’ from that type of soccer. I impersonate a soccer player on occasion with indoor games when I have the time/energy but that is where the Louligans story begins…
So pre internet 2.0, I didn’t know much about leagues around the world (still don’t know much) and MLS was something that I just didn’t see around that much. When the league began I was about 14 years old, so I was very much into playing vs watching. I’d heard of what a soccer hooligan was but knew zero about what supporter culture was. Around 2006 I started to take note of international soccer because of a good friend of mine, who happened to grow up down the street from the Santiago Bernabeu. I enjoyed watching World Cup games but was unaware of any bars that showed soccer regularly.
Then IT happened.
St. Louis was going to have a pro level team with the NASL.
I was very excited that we were going to have men’s outdoor soccer to enjoy. So I talked my dad into heading to a game and wasn’t disappointed. Our seats were at the center line so we could observe the whole field. Right before kick-off, I noticed a large group of people wearing similar shirts all walking in at the same time, towards the corner of the bleachers. They had flags, things to make noise, one guy had a chicken on his head, one guy had a Mitre on, there was a really loud girl with a bull horn, and they all generally looked to have been enjoying a good time before the game. After attending a handful of games, and we all know now how that team finished, I decided to look more into other options for live local soccer. I stumbled onto the St. Louis Lions and realized that the played in Cottleville. I hadn’t heard of USL anything but it was cheap to see so at the least I was in.
Then I saw it, the logo of the people from the NASL team, the jolly roger in green:
I figured that must be the people I saw at the soccer park games. So in looking them up on Google, I saw that they did in fact, support the Lions since the departure of the NASL team. I attended the next match at the Glavin Complex during the 2009 season. As I parked my car at the complex, I noticed the Louligan symbol on a bedsheet, hung inside of a pavilion. I was alone so I figured, “why not?” I walked up to the pavilion and attempted to “blend in.” I didn’t have to try very hard as the next thing I knew I was being offered a beer and asked if I had my ticket to the game already by one of the members. From the start I was welcomed, and never felt like I wasn’t.
Come game time we headed to the bleachers and I’m not sure I can put into words how much fun I had. We chanted and heckled the opposition. I don’t even remember the Lions game outcome, but I obviously had that sense of “welcome, we don’t care who you are, just make some noise.” We’ve come a long way and with the anticipation of the USL PRO team, there are tons of places to get plugged in. You more quiet? No problem, we need folks to set things up. Outgoing type? We need you to help others feel welcome when they first arrive. It’s been said before, but I’ll continue to echo the same sentiment, the time is now to support. You want MLS? Actions always speak louder than words, especially louder than weak desires expressed on FaceBook about only going if it’s MLS, as that is a weak excuse. This league, this team represents much much more than just going to watch a team play. It gives some a sense to belong somewhere. For others it shows an option for youth looking to possibly one day, play in an even bigger league that was formerly not available.
To the rest of you, I’ll see you in Section 8 next year. PEACE!