Off and Running + A Valuable Lesson About Value Haircut Sponsors

Photo credit: Linsinnati

Photo credit: Linsinnati

Word's by DI member and Bailey drummer Bob Brumberg (brought to you by SuperCuts)

And we're off.

Hot damn it felt good to be back at Nippert. I'm not sure FC Cincinnati's home opener could have gone any better (tifo deployment aside (loved the enthusiasm, but let's wait till AFTER the national anthem next time)). On the heels of Djiby's 4-goal performance, the Orange and Blue cut St. Louis in half and thrilled the 23,000+ at Nippert. It may have been the best atmosphere I've experienced in the Bailey. In addition to Djiby's record night, FCC began a 3-game homestand against a trio of the top teams in the USL by giving St. Louis their first loss of the season. Tip of the cap to the traveling St. Louligans for making the journey and keeping their voice until the end.

So that brings us to Louisville week. The Kentuckyiana Chevy Dealers GE Appliances Louisville CIty Football Club presented by Humana travel up I-71 to face the Toyota Knifey Soccer Lion Kings of Cincinnati. Ronny will be along shortly to give you his Toyota Camry Keys to the Game. More on Loisville in a minute.

Before the thousands of.....i mean couple hundred of...let's just be realistic here...

Before the couple dozen Purple Army of Halloween characters invade Nippert Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lemon-Limes that play in St. Petersburg come to town in another Eastern Conference showdown. Sadly, this mid-week matchup won’t get the attention it deserves because of the pending Dirty River Derby and the fact it’s mid-week. But Wednesday's tilt has fairly big implications on the table (and $2 beers). FCC can move into a tie for 3rd with a win and set up a battle for 1st on Saturday. New to the USL this season, TampaSt.PeteBay brings former Chelsea star Joe Cole with them along with a 3-1-0 record. Suffering their first loss at the hands of LouCity's dominant pitching and base-running, the Rowdies will certainly look to rebound Wednesday. Let's bring the same atmosphere to the Bailey that we saw Saturday.

But I really came here to write about our friends down the river. This last week has been pretty eventful for LCFC's main supporter's group The Coopers. Because on Thursday, this happened: 

 

Wow. Jackpot. Some jokes write themselves.

This might even make us forget they play on a baseball field (eh, probably not).

 Here are the bullet points as I understand them (Coopers released a statement here):

·         Coopers started a march to the match, similar to what our SGs do

·         Corporate marketing stooges see march, get idea, pitch to club FO

·         Club FO approaches Coopers with idea, possible video paid by shoddy haircut place

·         Coopers lay ground rules (no branding the march, etc)

·         Video released with 'Discount Haircut Place March to the Match' branding

·         Meltdown

I could feel the Cincy faithful licking their lips at this gift that was dropped into our lap. But let's take a step back shall we?

I think we can all agree that Supporters’ Groups play a substantial role in the matchday experience. And one of the reasons is the independent nature of SGs. It’s safe to say we have a good relationship with FCC's front office, and from the very beginning they have been open with communication and willing to work with the SGs. The Coopers can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe they would have shared similar feelings about their own FO up until Thursday.

We have to remember that the FO is in the business to make money.  But there is a line. Sure, they use videos of us in their commercials and pictures of us on their website (so does the league). All those flags, scarves, and smoke make for a compelling sales pitch right? By and large we're cool with that because we are allowed to bring in drums, raise up tifos, and set off smoke. However, the relationship is certainly a delicate one. Generally speaking, SGs maintain a healthy skepticism of FOs and their motivations.

Photo credit: Linsinnati

Photo credit: Linsinnati

Look, I get it. Sponsors are important. Clubs aren't charities. That's why Toyota is across the front of our shirt and Republic Bank is on LCFC's sleeve. Without these partnerships there wouldn't be an FC Cincinnati or Louisville City FC. They pay the bills. That seemed to be the excuse given to the Coopers for the egregious branding of an organic supporters' initiative. Even worse, based on the Coopers' president's statement, the club suggested they need to lie down and accept it (my words). Like I said, there is a line. And LCFC leapt over it with a running start. They took something that was created, organized, and executed by passionate fans and sold it off without permission. I'd be pissed too. Not everything is for sale.

And don't you think for a second that it couldn't happen here. Again, we have a very good relationship with the FO. Carl, Jeff, et al are incredibly nice people...and incredibly smart businessmen. They have made no secret of their intentions to get to MLS. MLS costs money. Sponsors = money. And sponsors love to be seen. SGs are very visible in the matchday experience. See where I'm going with this?

I thought about this a lot on Saturday as I looked up at the Bailey. I thought about everything Die Innenstadt has done, what every SG has done, to create the atmosphere at Nippert. It’s you that make the match. Your marching, chanting, yelling, cheering, tifo painting, flag waiving, etc. And for a club to take that energy and auction it off, to me, seems unconscionable.

Now, I'm confident FCC would never attempt to brand our march or rename the Bailey as the "PNC Power Zone" (if they do that, I want a cut), but the point is that it could. Because Louisville did, and I'm willing to bet before last week the Coopers would have thought the same thing. To be fair, it appears the FO has reached out to the Coopers with a view to make things right. But the damage has been done.

So yes, we’re going to give them s**t for it, particularly because of all the 'plastic' talk directed our way last season. There will be chants, social media banter, maybe a 2-pole or sign. But truthfully, I do feel for them. The club did them dirty. They sold something they had no rights to. Sure we're rivals, but we're all supporters. We love our cities, and we love our clubs. Come Saturday we'll loudly express our dislike for the team that plays on a baseball field (didn’t forget after all), taunt the 30 or so traveling fans, and then invite them back to Mecklenburg's for a liter. I suggest you join us.

Juncta Juvant

Bob

Don't forget to order your DI t-shirts for the "blackout" match. 

The shirt borrows a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem from which Cincinnati received her nickname, the "Queen City." They're $15 apiece and can be ordered here. Please note that no shipping is available. We'll have them available for pickup at Mecklenburg Gardens before the match starting at 2 PM. We will not be bringing them to the stadium with us. Shirts can also be purchased day of, but we strongly recommend you pre-order.

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Bob Brumberg is a DI member and Bailey drummer. Follow him on Twitter.

Want to write something for the DI blog? Talk to Ronny.

It's Gonna Be One Hell of a Week...

The club started on the road due to Nippert renovations, but the boys are finally returning for the home opener and have a busy schedule featuring three matches in one week. 

Say what you will about the season so far, and critique the play all you wish, but there's no denying that road trip to Pittsburgh (and win) was awesome. Rhinehaus has been a wonderful host of many great watch parties, and we've still got mugs for sale there that help support a local soccer charity. For now though, it's time to focus on some home matches and if you're like us, you're pretty excited for this coming week of events.

So here's what's going on:

April 15: Home Opener Against St. Louis

It's time to kick this season off properly and we're going to start early on Saturday, April 15th. We'll be in the beautiful biergarten of Mecklenburg Gardens starting at noon. Come drink several liters before our traditional march through uptown to the stadium. 

St. Louis is coming to town on the heels of their MLS bid getting some bad news from the local voters, but on the pitch they look solid. As of this writing, they've drawn against Loisville while having secured wins over NY2 and Ottawa. Back in the USL's Eastern Conference this season, this is FCC's first of three meetings against STL. 

Facebook event.


April 19: Tampa Bay Rowdies

dafuq.jpg

dafuq.jpg

Don't be fooled by Tampa Bay's silly sock mascot (yes, it's a sock), the Rowdies are possibly the hottest team in the USL right now. Defectors of the NASL, Tampa Bay is new to our league this season and has started things off with three straight wins and a squad that looks very strong. They'll play against Loisville, which should be an interesting match, before making a stop in Cincinnati. It's a mid-week match and we'll be at Mecklenburg starting around 4 PM on April 19th. 

Facebook event.


April 22: Loisville City and the "Blackout"

Image credit: the always talented Queen City War Pigs

Image credit: the always talented Queen City War Pigs

To round out three matches in one week, our friends in Loisville are coming to town again. I'm sure they'll bring the "thousands" of fans they purported to bring last time (it's hard to properly count when looking through the mask of your super hero costume). The club has designated this game as a "blackout" to coincide with the wearing of the third kit. To commemorate the occasion, we've got a special DI t-shirt lined up:

The shirt borrows a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem from which Cincinnati received her nickname, the "Queen City." They're $15 apiece and can be ordered here. Please note that no shipping is available. We'll have them available for pickup at Mecklenburg Gardens before the match starting at 2 PM. We will not be bringing them to the stadium with us. Shirts can also be purchased day of, but we strongly recommend you pre-order.

Facebook event


We're looking forward to seeing everyone back at Mecklenburg Gardens again, for the march to the stadium, and to be back in The Bailey. We'll see everyone there starting this Saturday. 

Juncta Juvant!

Our 2017 Scarf

Scarf Mockup_2017_release2.jpg

Created through a collaboration between our members, with the final design crafted by member Mike Dew: our 2017 scarf.

11 blue Ohio River waves represent each player taking the pitch and the 12th represents us; the supporters who stand with our club.

Die Innenstadt memberships cost $20 and include one of these scarves as well as a DI logo sticker. The scarves are currently being manufactured and this year we'll have the ability to ship them out. However, we'll also have them available for pickup at a pre-season event. Details on that soon.

Stay tuned... 

Purchase memberships/scarves here.

Look to the Future, but Appreciate What You Have

When I was a kid, I really wanted one of those K’nex roller coaster sets, but Christmas was far away and my parents were most definitely not going to run out and just buy me one. So I enjoyed what I had. I broke out a ton of Lego’s and started building supports on the table. I used toothpicks to create the coaster rails. In the end, it didn’t at all work like the K’nex one on television, but I was damn proud of my Lego creation and left it set up for months. I never even got the K’nex set, didn't really think about it again once I started pouring out the plastic bricks.

Who didn't want this when they were a kid?

Who didn't want this when they were a kid?

These days, I’ve got the same attitude about a lot of things. I love visiting Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York. At one time, I deeply envied a lot of what those cities have. Why couldn’t Cincinnati be that way? Why did we screw ‘this’ up back in the 19th, 20th, and early 21st centuries? Then I learned to just fully embrace the Queen City and appreciate it for its own unique attributes, to learn its history, to be positive for the future and work towards what it can truly become. I can think of a number of stories where our city/region/area has misstepped and espouse several examples. I’ve poured over the stories of the Stingers and their failure to get into the NHL, I’ve stood in the abandoned subway tunnels, and I’ve walked through the forgotten parts of a once booming airport. While I’ve learned from history, I’ve also learned to not overlook what we do have and during these early days of FC Cincinnati, I think it’s a lesson we can all keep in mind.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend to be some holier-than-thou, skull bandana wearing evangelist who is telling you the proper way to support. I won’t hide it: I WANT to see FC Cincinnati in Major League Soccer, playing at this nation’s highest level. I do think there’s a good chance of that happening and I enjoyed the day when Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber came to visit. I sang the chants, took the day off to hang out with Die Innenstadt friends, marched from the bar, went to the Woodward when he spoke, etc. I certainly felt it was important that we made a strong impression that reflected the massive amount of support this team has. I feel we made our case, but something struck me and it was more realized as I spoke with fellow DI Members in the ensuing days. The potential for FC Cincinnati to join MLS, to bring the city of Cincinnati a third top-tier sports franchise, and to keep raising the profile of this city and its people is all incredibly exciting. I can definitely see it on the horizon. At the same time though, we must truly appreciate what we do have. Whether our club is vying for MLS or just trying to make it in USL, they deserve the strongest possible support we can bring. I hope the Commissioner was impressed, but more so, I want to see even more people on the march through Uptown, picking up a paintbrush at tifo nights in Brighton, and at Rhinehaus in OTR during away matches. I want to hear more unique chants develop, for support to continue growing throughout the city and region. All that can happen whether we’re tapped for MLS or not.

While I’m keeping an eye on the news, what I most look forward to is warmer weather and enjoying the biergarten with some of the best people I know in the heart of our fair city. I’m looking forward to marching, to matches, to continuing the Dirty River Derby, to getting revenge on Charleston, and to watching this club play a competitive and successful season. One day, I’d love to see John Harkes hoist the MLS Cup in the air under a Losantiville sky. For now though, I’m content to watch him and the ‘Boys in Blurange’ hunt for the USL cup.

What we have in USL is incredible. Let’s not forget that and never take it for granted. Look to the future, but appreciate what you have. Not to get overly cliche, but as the song states: where this team goes, “we’ll follow.” In the meantime though, first and foremost: “we support the ‘Nati.”

Regards,

Ronny Salerno