Fans' View

Fans’ View: With a little help from my friends

So there it was, the last home game of the season.

Giddy that we won, sad that soon the countdown to next season will go up on my board at school (gotta have something to keep me going through the long winter months).

My son and I stayed after the game to try and get a few autographs, so when we started back that long walk to Lot A, the sidewalk was empty. He ran on with some friends and I took an opportunity to reflect.

Not on the season or the games won and lost. Not on the players, those who will stay or those who will go. Not on the politics of the front office or the coaching changes.

I spent that slightly chilly walk back thinking of all of the friends that I have found by being a Union fan.

In 2010, we knew no one who went to Union games. We showed up in Lot C just about kickoff, maybe a few minutes early to eat our hoagies standing near the car. On a good weekend we found some friends from our soccer club who we could talk into coming with us so we’d have someone to chat with.

In 2011, we found a family in our local club who had season tickets and parked in Lot A. We found someone to share the wins and losses. Even more importantly — we found Marc, the master of tailgates. Five hours before the game we were in our spots, next to the river, with tents up, grill on, beers cold, sitting in a chair watching the kids play soccer. Our families are now fast friends who spend time together weekly — whether the Union play or not.

In 2012, I had this crazy idea that I wanted to go to Florida for the Union pre-season. Mind you, we left at 9 pm Thursday night, after parent- teacher conferences, and drove all night to get to Orlando, but it was the best decision I ever made. That first evening, my husband and I were sitting at the bar waiting for the players to arrive for the meet and greet. He turned to me, pointed and said, “Isn’t that one of the guys that tailgates near us? The one in the crazy VW van?”

I wandered over to this table of guys and introduced myself — sure enough, he did tailgate next to us. Thus another friendship was born — three guys (Ed, Eli and Earl) that have welcomed this not-so-knowledgeable soccer mom into their life. We’ve shared beers in bars, at away games,, and always in Lot A. As the weekend went on, more friends were made (Wendy, the hostess with the mostest) and our small group in Lot A added more folks to its roster.

Fan weekend 2 - Earl

Photo: Earl Gardner

In 2013, we traveled again to preseason and met Sean, whose son and mine spent time this year trading Panini stickers before a game. At the Houston game, I met a man who I now see at all the games I go to in Texas. It’s cool to have someone to sit with in hostile territory.

This was the same year I ventured on to Twitter. Some of the folks I follow I have never met, but feel like they are great friends — @Lot_A and others keep me amused and feeling like I’m not alone with the ups and downs of my Union.

In 2014, I played hookie and went to the draft. Got to hang out with more folks (Mick, Alex, Brian) that I knew from our corner of the tailgate world. It felt like walking into a family reunion — every where I looked, I found a familiar face.

I started listening to the DoopCast. After reaching out to Ritchie¬†on Facebook, I found that he’s a fellow teacher. Sitting in my beloved Lot A, we discussed the state of the Union, the state of education, and shared a few cold beverages.

I convinced some friends of ours, who have kids our age, to join us and become season ticket holders this year. More people to tailgate with in Lot A and, just as important, more friends to hang out with away from the games.

My point to all of this rambling?

For me, the Union is so much more than the players on the field. It’s my circle of friends. Friends that I never would have found if it wasn’t for our love of the game and our love of this team. When I hear people saying they are not going to come to games anymore, I feel sad because these games are the highlight of my week, an opportunity to get together and break bread with good friends, share stories of the week and,, hopefully, DOOP loudly and often.

I share these last two photos, because these guys are the last reason that this odyssey is important to me — I want my kids to grow up with a passion for a team. My team, the Philadelphia Union.

Staci

See ya on the pitch!

7 Comments

  1. kensington blue beller says:

    Stack,you have two very fortunate sons.

  2. As always, a welcome read! Me thinks I need to move my parking to Lot A for next season!

  3. Terrific Staci! So true about the circle of friends. Lucky to know some of the greatest people through The U… Oh – and the crazy VW Van and the epicness of those affiliated with it – naturally one of the greatest historical monuments of Lot A.

  4. OneManWolfpack says:

    Good stuff. I’m in Lot A and I love it. May it never be paved!!!

  5. Wonderful post, Staci! My son still talks about playing soccer with your boys and swapping World Cup stickers.

  6. Good story Staci.

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