Saturday was an embarrassing display for the team on field, and I am not going to try to justify the performance. Our fans came down in droves to watch a good soccer match, but were left disappointed not because of a loss, but because we quite frankly shit the bed and gave up five goals.
Some people will try to blame it on the red card or the refs, but that’s not the reason we lost. We arguably played better after the red card than before it. We were on our heels for the first 36 minutes of the game, and I’m surprised we didn’t give up more goals in the that time. We didn’t just have 0 shots on goal in the first half, we had 0 shots in the first half. For whatever reason, the team on the field were not ready to play. Was it nerves about Tuesday? Was it a mixture of new players not working well together? You’ll have to ask them. That’s all I’ll say about the on-field performance.
Off the field, there were other “issues”. To get a grasp of what happened, let’s go back to July 15, to the last Dirty River Derby match at Slugger Field.
Leading Into the Match
In that matchup, we came away with a 3-2 victory over LCFC (which would have been 3-1 if not for an own goal in the closing minutes). The roles were very much reversed on the field. We, as fans, definitely came in and ruffled some feathers off the field as well during that match. A couple of fans brought in smoke that was ignited after our first goal. Regardless of how you feel about the prohibition of smoke for visiting supporters, FCC has the same restriction at Nippert Stadium, and our team does expect people to follow that. The July 15 match immediately followed the matches against the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup. In these two matches, visiting supporters lit off smoke during the match (despite not actually scoring any goals). There may have been a desire by some fans to do the same thing they did, and light off smoke at a big game (ie. Louisville). We didn’t organize this as an SG, and discourage anyone from using smoke when not explicitly permitted.
After the July match, the two front offices had a phone call and discussed rules for the next match. Despite having no issues in the stands between supporters of opposing teams (that we have been made aware of, at least), they imposed new rules on us. They required us to enter the northwest gate (left field) and not enter the main gate like we had done at all previous games so that we wouldn’t pass the home supporters. They required a representative from FCC to come to the game and watch us, or something. Not sure exactly what he was supposed to be doing, but they required that. They wanted to make sure we didn’t chant anything that had swearing. And they, understandably reiterated the smoke policy.
We followed all of the rules they stated for us. We didn’t bring smoke into the game and made sure everyone was aware that smoke was not allowed. We entered the correct entrance. We even changed a word in one of our songs so we wouldn’t say “shit” and instead said “poo”.
After an unintentionally hilarious tweet by one of the LCFC fans complaining about how we are “going overboard” because a few streamers ended up on the warning track in front of our section, we decided to double down on streamers – after all, we were never told not to bring streamers. The FCC fans started calling the event from July streamergate, and supporter groups decided to unleash as many streamers as possible into the air at kickoff for the August 12th match as a funny nod to the overreaction. We handed out an obscene number of streamers while tailgating to launch into the air at kickoff.
Apparently the LCFC front office decided to try to ban streamers a couple of hours before the match, but the message was not communicated to us. This is all from word of mouth, and they never tried to reach out to us directly. Streamers had been handed out and tossed before almost anyone knew the front office had said anything.
Some complaints came that the streamers landed on the playing surface. This is simply inaccurate. From the very first match last year at Slugger Field, our fans were placed as far away as possible from the playing surface. We are literally all sitting over 100 feet away from the field. For some perspective, the FCC front office has visiting supporters 15 feet from the sideline. The furthest seat in the Bailey is about 65 or 70 feet from the end line. Again, we are all placed over 100 feet away from the sideline at Slugger Field. We couldn’t reach the field with a streamer there if we tried.
If we were placed close to the playing surface, I guarantee we would not have organized the streamers since we don’t want to interrupt the game. We are looking to have some fun and enjoy ourselves without doing anything destructive.
In case you couldn’t tell, the streamers were meant as a good-natured joke, and a way to show our support of the team visually. Every LCFC fan I personally talked to after the game loved the streamers and thought it was hilarious. Despite the lopsided affair, we all had a laugh about it. There were a few people who, likely through frustration of our team’s performance, continued to throw a few streamers near the end of the game. We told people not to do that as we were warned that people who continued would be removed. I physically took streamers from one of our supporters who was trying to throw them late into the game.
Unfortunately for everyone, the Louisville City front office went into Saturday looking to send a message to our fans that any shenanigans, no matter how harmless, would not be tolerated. In the 88th minute, the club made the strange decision to remove the front row of our section (and only the front row). I don’t think anyone in the front was throwing streamers after kickoff, and even if they were, it wouldn’t have interrupted the game and wouldn’t have been destructive. It wasn’t dangerous. It wasn’t meant to actually anger anyone (they’re streamers, guys). The security even apologized to our fans while removing them and said it wasn’t their decision.
Before the match even started the atmosphere was very hostile toward us. They had a huge security presence outside of our section. After the streamers were released, security was hovering in the aisles.
Let’s be clear about our supporter groups. We aren’t looking to start fights with opposing fans. We aren’t looking to disrupt the game. We aren’t looking to damage property. If anyone sees someone trying to do any of those things, we encourage you to either step in or alert someone who can. As shown by the use of streamers, we are just looking to have fun and show our support. If any Louisville fans want to come down to Nippert Stadium and throw streamers around their section, go for it! As long as you don’t damage anything and don’t interrupt the actual game, let’s have some fun.
As a supporter group, we have no ill feelings towards the people who support LCFC. We will continue to invite you to join us at Mecklenburg Gardens on game days. We’ll continue to chat during half time with opposing fans, and hug those goofy characters who come over to talk. We’ll also continue to say you’re full of shit and we’ll continue to poke fun at you. We want this to be a rivalry, but let’s not take things too seriously in the stands. For people on all sides, let’s continue to make this a fun experience, regardless of how anyone in a front office handles things.
This result is behind us, and now we must bring our focus to the U.S. Open Cup match against the New York Red Bulls. The winner of this match goes on to visit Children's Mercy Park to take on Sporting Kansas City in the Open Cup Final. We'll be pregaming at Mecklenburg Gardens at 4pm on Tuesday and invite everyone to join us. The match starts at 8pm, so we'll be starting our march to the stadium around 7pm. Let's come out in full force on Tuesday and secure a W in the Open Cup Semifinal!
Die Innenstadt President