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What’s Your Number, Baby?

and do you have this in my size?

I have a couple agendas with this post, but the two are related. One to bitch a little bit and the other to continue to work towards unifying the fans. Let’s get the bitching out of the way first. Since December 2009 (at the club name and logo unveiling) I’ve been trying to give the club some of my money. You see, I’m a bit of a Jersey whore. I have over 30 soccer jerseys in my closet. Most are Arsenal kits, but if I like the look of a shirt I’ll buy it. So when I first heard we were getting a team, even a division 2 squad, the first thing I thought about was finally having a jersey of my home team. Flash forward several months and I still don’t have a jersey. If you see me anywhere during non-work hours chances are I’ll be wearing a soccer jersey. I could be a walking billboard for the club because I’d wear the hell out of an AC shirt. The stands should be a sea of yellow with all the fans wearing replica or authentic shirts. But we can’t. I went to the merchandise table every game for the first several weeks and they had little to no stock and sold out of XXL (I’m very muscular) within minutes of the opening game. I was assured that more stock was on the way and that I’d get my shirt soon. Alas, I still have no shirt. I know there was the financial meltdown and rumors of unpaid bills to Nike can explain the lack of merchandise availability, but not excuse it. The merchandise table is like a post-apocalyptic grocery store- empty. Fans can’t even buy a tshirt. The only thing available seems to be close-out Athletica gear. Of course, I haven’t been back to the merchandise table since my much ballyhooed drunken meltdown at the Vancouver game in June- but its still empty from what I’ve heard. Part of the reason we went forward with the St. Louligan shirts was to give the crowd an identity and something to wear. I sold 62 Tshirts in 2 weeks. I imagine I could have sold more if I had the cash to buy a bunch and the patience and sobriety to sit out side the gate and hawk my wares. But I digress. Maybe one day we’ll all be able to buy a jersey and proudly wear it to the game and around town. I’m desperate to get my own AC jersey and I know I’m not alone. Until then, is the only place you can get AC merchandise, unofficial as it is.empty shelves

Point 2. Assume that I could buy a jersey. What name and number would I get? I could leave it blank, but I like the look of a name and number on the back of a kit. My buddy Jeff was lucky enough to get a shirt in his size. He promptly took it to Johnny Mac’s and got N’zinga heat pressed to the back of that thing. Guess what? A couple of weeks later, he was gone. I’ve seen a few Ralston jerseys out in the crowd- he’s gone too. I seem to have a knack of picking the player that is about to go. My favorite Arsenal TH14 shirt was purchased the year before he left for Barcelona. I’m scarred to death to purchase a Fabregas shirt. Also, AC’s status as a feeder club pretty much dictates that there will be player turnover every season. I love Tim Velten and Cap’n Jack, but what if they move on to MLS or another team? If we had a long and storied tradition we could get an all-time great hall of famer on the back of the shirt, but we’re an expansion team. I’ve never been a fan of putting one’s own name on a jersey, it just doesn’t sit right with me. So what to do?

Reading fans
The answer is to be found in the English town of Reading. One of my favorite football traditions in the world is that of Reading FC assigning number 13 to the fans. Click here to see the roster info. That’s right, Reading fans have their own dedicated number. They are listed in the program and on the website. They can get a #13 shirt and know it won’t be worthless the next season. It also bonds the fans to the club and not necessarily to the hot player that will leave the club for greener pastures when his stock rises. To me this is the perfect solution and I can’t believe that every other club hasn’t copied this practice. (perhaps some have, but I think this idea should be universal.) Everyone I’ve ever talked to about the idea seems to love it. I even proposed it to a couple of people that work for AC and they seemed to be all over it, but nothing was ever done. That’s one way they could honor the fans at fan appreciation night on October 2nd. At halftime they should dedicate a number to the fans- and having a few jerseys for sale would be nice. 😉

AC Fan Jersey

So, what number should be ours? “13“? Like Reading- kinda cool number. “12“? For the 12th man? “0”? I like single digits and hardly anybody ever wears “0”. “10”? For our first year-2010- not likely considering the number ten’s importance in soccer history. “20“? For section 20- the craziest section in the park- might alienate the other side of the park? “42”? My favorite number and Douglas Adams’ answer to life, the universe and everything? I don’t know. But we can discuss it on the forum on, Big Soccer, or in the comments on face book. I’ll post this article in those places and open the discussion to the fans as to what our number should be, or if this is an idea worth pursuing.

And if the club won’t give us a number, I say we just take one. It doesn’t even have to be an untaken number. If we decide we want to be a certain number we can just start wearing it no matter who it currently belongs to- eventually it will become ours. So that’s it. I’d like to be able to buy a jersey and when I get one I want a number to put on it. Let’s go St. Louligans. What’s your number?

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