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STL United FC, This is American Futbol.

August 21, 2009

stlu1

Just how dedicated are you to supporting a football club, or simply a sport you truly love? Would you wake up at 5:30am and drive another hour to see a match? Would you skip a university exam or sneak out of work at 1:00pm just to catch your club take on Levski Sofia in the Group Stage of the Champions League? I doubt you would. But let me tell you about a group of people that would do just that.

When I initially moved to America in 2001, I didn’t really find a place to watch football on a regular basis. I didn’t have the extra money either to fork out for football specific channels or the ridiculous pay-per-game deal my satellite provider had. I would catch the ocassional match on ESPN, read about Man Utd on the web and follow international matches on live ticker… that’s about it. Things will change for the good though when a friend of mine and I read about  a group of football enthusiasts who always met whenever a big match was on. We thought it was the perfect time to catch a match with these guys since the 2006 World Cup was about to hit full stride.

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I sort of expected the great crowd they drew for the World Cup since it is the main event in our sport. What I didn’t expect was the dedication to the sport that I would witness week in and week out in the coming months. The truly commited ones would always show up no matter what the situation. A perfect example would be the Liverpool v Manchester United league fixture in late 2007. The match was slated for 6.20am St. Louis time, snow was pouring outside and there were questions whether or not our venue, Barristers, would open during the inconvenient circumstances. But of course, none of these elements could stop and dampen the spirits of these football fans. The beers were flowing (yes, Guiness is a wonderful breakfast), crowd was singing and even the neutrals were in hand to witness a football match 6,000 miles away. I thought to myself that I finally found THE place to watch football in the city, THE people to watch football with.

Why you ask? Why is it such a big deal when we could have just all saved our money on gas and watch the match at home? Well you see my international friends, we the football supporters in America are a very tight community. In a country where American throwball, baseball and basketball are kings, football is nothing but a second class citizen. Our supporters are nothing but second class citizens. As a result, we pride ourselves in enjoying the football with like-minded people. You will be amazed to see  how people from all walks of life and most importantly, every variation of football clubs go to one place, sit down, have a pint and enjoy the match without the physical confrontations. Where in the world would you find a Milan and Inter supporter shaking hands after the match? Celtic and Rangers followers buying each other a pint? or Barca and Madrid fans analyzing the match after it has ended? Only in American pubs my friends.

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Through the years that I’ve been watching football with this supporters club, I’ve made a lot of friends and met a lot of characters. We have our resident Gooner trying to wind everyone up, a head organizer who’s done so much that he needs to get paid big bucks or the man who is overly in-love with Gattuso. We have sub groups as well, university students who were always there for mid-day Champions League action and the gang of Arsenal supporters from a local high school (I swear, I thought they were the actual Arsenal at times.), you name em, we got em!

Sure, most of our members would love to see the football live in the flesh in their favorite club’s ground. Some in our lot have already ventured to the San Siro, Azteca in Mexico, at Anfield, the La Bombonera and Old Trafford to name a few. But the experience of getting to know football fans from all over the planet, the pain of driving in six inches of snow to get to a pub 25 miles away and going mental at five am, that I would never trade for anything in the world. Watching the dedication of the people for the sport I truly love made it feel like a football ground week in and week out, and that to me, was second to none.

To learn more about STL United FC, click.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2009 3:09 pm

    Well done, mate.

    Now about those big bucks……

  2. Shipdawg permalink
    August 21, 2009 3:44 pm

    Great Blog Andrew. This group is a lot of fun and needs to continue to grow. Can’t wait for the matches this weekend.

    Hail Hail The Celts are here!!

  3. Asim Thakore permalink
    August 21, 2009 5:27 pm

    Never seen any gooners about except Tallis and Sam, probably too afraid that I’ll lamp ’em.

    What is this Barrister’s you speak of?

  4. August 21, 2009 5:52 pm

    great insight, and article, andrew. sounds (and looks) like a great place to watch football, not too sure about the 5:30am kick off though lol. nonetheless, thats the kinda things we have to do as football fans.

    • August 21, 2009 6:45 pm

      @wllmhll; those 5:30am starts were brutal but totally worth it.

      @Asim; they’re there, you just don’t go enough.

  5. Asim Thakore permalink
    August 22, 2009 7:37 pm

    Maybe you’re right andrew, I’m only there for Spurs matches really. Can’t stomach most fans of the American bandwagon teams, excluding you and Bill, et. al.

    Chavski, Scousers, and Arsenil seem to be even more bandwagon-y than United. I can actually udnerstand United fans, to an extent—they were pretty much the only team on TV in the U.S. for ages. I think maybe I even respect the eel-eater spammers more than the bandwagon types who ask me why someone isnt taking a corner “the right way” when their team takes a short corner 1-0 up in the final minutes (chavski fan, btw.)

  6. August 22, 2009 8:58 pm

    I for one am offended by Asim, the Dream’s, implication that I am an eel eater.

    I gave them up for Lent

  7. Ben WHL permalink
    November 17, 2009 12:20 am

    Up there all the time shoutin for Spurs. Great pub just need a local team to support

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