Category: Uncategorized

Fan Reaction: Stewart Thames – the Face in the Crowd

Sometimes, the support of a team is simply about soccer. Not everyone will be popping smoke and banging drums. Some come to the matches to take in a full-on battle. They are their to watch gladiators on the pitch play the game they love for their city. This is Stewart Thames.

In this fan reaction, Stewart Thames recalls what is important about AFC Mobile to him: wanting his team to succeed. He came to AFC Mobile for soccer. He has never had issues being critical of the club, but that is only because it is his club.

You’ll find me inconspicuously hidden among the crowd of fans…[but] This is my team and I want them to win

I am not an influential person in the Mobile soccer community.

I am not a member of the Causeway Rebellion.

And I am not someone who is going to know everyone at an AFC Mobile match.

I am just an “average” fan.

Of course, one of the biggest disconnects between my life as a soccer fan growing up in Mobile and the soccer teams I watched was geography. I always enjoyed watching matches in England, Germany, and Spain, but I never really gained a real attachment to any European club.

When I really became interested in soccer, the closest top professional team was in Houston, and I had yet to become aware of the myriad of smaller leagues scattered across the United States. I took an immediate interest in our domestic league and I became an avid supporter of a certain Rave Green team in the Pacific Northwest. During those days, MLS matches were rarely televised nationally. So, I would stream Sounders matches on my laptop from suspect sports streaming sites, and I even paid for an online subscription so that I could watch every match.

While I was just as real of a fan as someone from Seattle, I still felt that I was missing part of the “fan experience” because I had no real connection to the city.

I first found out about AFC Mobile through Twitter. When I read that Mobile would have an organized “semi-pro” soccer team, I was engulfed with a wave of skepticism and excitement. While I had a small group of fellow soccer fans my age, I was curious as to whether Mobile was capable of supporting a soccer team. My excitement primarily stemmed from the fact that there would be a local soccer team that I could support and always call “my team” regardless of the circumstances.

In fact, I was so eager to learn more about the team that I privately messaged Abram Chamberlain asking him when the team would begin play. Even before the first whistle, I knew that I was committed to being an AFC Mobile fan.

I know that the fan and game day experience is a big deal to most small clubs and its supporters, but for me, my fandom consists of having a team that I can support regardless of the circumstances. Maybe it’s a little bit selfish that I don’t care that much about the camaraderie of the supporter groups or the “family friendly” atmospheres.

To me, it is all about experiencing the sadness and joy that you get from passionately supporting a team regardless of how good that team is or what division that team competes in. AFC Mobile has given me that chance to call a local team my own. I remember going to that first AFC Mobile game and being excited that over 800 people turned out to watch the match. I was pleased to see that Mobile could support a 5th division soccer team, but my “inner fan” took over as soon AFC Mobile started its first match against the Gulf Coast Texas.

While I was excited to be at the first ever AFC Mobile home match, I was also slightly annoyed that AFC Mobile lost. It wasn’t an “I’m not going to watch that anymore” type of annoyance, but it was a “this is my team and I want them to win, dammit” annoyance that any real fan of a team experiences. From then, my love for the club didn’t cease. I streamed away matches (when available), and I even stayed up until 3 a.m. in Oxford, England while studying abroad to watch AFC Mobile lose to Motagua and Gaffa. It didn’t cross my mind that the team was winless up to that point and that I could just check the score in the morning. AFC Mobile was my team and I was going to watch them just as fervently as I watch the Sounders or the United States National Team. I was a soccer fan from Mobile who finally had a Mobile team.

My fandom is not the typical type of soccer fandom that most people envision when they think “soccer fan.” You won’t find me chanting or beating drums in the supporters section. Every team needs those types of fans, but that’s not me. You’ll find me inconspicuously hidden among the crowd of fans questioning a call by the referee, applauding or cursing a tactical move by our manager, or just admiring the sheer brilliance of a good pass.

I may not be the one who shows the most outward emotion, but I am also the first person to stand up and applaud when Chisom scores a goal or when Matt Merrill makes a crunching tackle in the midfield. I can be annoyed when the team is not doing well on the field, and I can cheer for the club when it does the little things right. Being a fan of a team means experiencing all of the good and all of the bad. AFC Mobile’s lone win against Biloxi was made even sweeter because I experienced the last gasp golazo by a 10 (or was it 9?) man Biloxi in Lipscomb Stadium. That’s the fun part of being a fan: sticking with a club during the peaks and valleys of a season.

AFC Mobile has given me the opportunity to support an authentic Mobile soccer team. I now have a local team that I can root for and be proud to call my own. So, thank you, AFC Mobile, for giving a diehard Mobile soccer fan the chance to cheer for a Mobile soccer team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Open Tryout Registration Begins

Mobile, Alabama – Registration for new players wishing to try out for the premier soccer team in Mobile is now open. AFC Mobile’s Open Tryouts will be held on Saturday, December 9, 2017. Any player who will graduate high school by May of 2018 and is at least 17-years-old is invited to try out for AFC Mobile’s 2018 roster.

Players will have the opportunity to try out with Coach Nate Nicholas and his staff from 2:00-6:00 p.m. Select participants will be invited back to the Invitational Tryout which will be held Saturday, December 16, 2017, with players from last season’s roster as well as select collegiate players.

More information may be found here:

Open Tryout Information

Registration fee may be paid here:

Pay $15.00 Registration Fee

Open Tryouts

AFC Mobile Open Tryouts December 9th

On Saturday, December 9th, 2017, AFC Mobile will hold its open tryouts for their upcoming 2018 season. The team will look to bolster its roster with local talent from the Mobile area.

AFC Mobile invites interested players to tryout. Coach Nate Nicholas and his staff will hold tryouts at Herndon “Sage” Park (2900 Dauphin Street, Mobile, Alabama). Select players will be invited to another tryout with players from last year’s roster and select NCAA and NAIA players.

During their inaugural season, AFC Mobile played before record crowds in what some have dubbed one of the best amateur soccer atmospheres in the South. Expectations for the second season are high. Coach Nicholas and his staff will look to build a side that can compete with some of the top semi-professional teams in the region.

Registration will start on November 1st, 2017 and will cost $15 online. Day of registration is $25.

Week of 10/1: Soccer events in the Mobile area

10/2


Spring Hill College vs. Florida Southern College (Women’s)
The Cage, Mobile
12:00 PM

10/5


University of Mobile vs. Faulkner University (Women’s)
The Jungle, Mobile
2:00 PM

 
University of Mobile vs. Faulkner University (Men’s)
The Jungle, Mobile
3:30 PM


Spring Hill College vs. Lee University (Men’s)
Library Field, Mobile
6:00 PM

10/6


Spring Hill College vs. University of Alabama – Huntsville (Women’s)
Library Field, Mobile
3:30 PM

American Outlaws Watch Party: United States Men’s National Team vs. Panama Men’s National Team
O’Daly’s Irish Pub

564 Dauphin Street, Mobile
Kickoff at 6:30 PM

10/7


English Premier League Soccer Saturday’s at O’Daly’s Irish Pub (Watch Party)
564 Dauphin Street, Mobile
Doors Open at 6:30 AM

University of Mobile vs. Dalton State College (Women’s)
The Jungle, Mobile
1:30 PM


University of Mobile vs. Dalton State College (Men’s)
The Jungle, Mobile
4:00 PM

Gaffa (photo: Michael Shartava)

AFC Mobile Falls to Eastern Conference Leaders Gaffa FC

AFC Mobile lost 3-0 to Gulf Coast Premier League Eastern Conference leaders Gaffa FC of Jackson, MS on Saturday night in front of another great crowd of 816. The game was a physical, chippy affair with six yellow cards shown between the two teams.

AFC Mobile dominated possession early in the first half. Clairy Kengeye streaked down the side of the pitch and sent in a beautiful hanging cross, but couldn’t find anyone on the receiving end.

“When you don’t finish those early chances, it really puts you behind the eight ball when you get a strike on goal or try to finish it and you don’t capitalize,” AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas said.

Ten minutes into the game, Gaffa’s Chance Boardene got behind the Mobile defense and took a soft shot that was easily collected by Mobile’s goalkeeper Elijah Gibson. Five minutes later, Gaffa’s Cory McCabe took a free kick from the right hand side of the pitch that went wide.

In the 15th minute, Gaffa’s Steven Simmons blindsided AFC Mobile midfielder Greg Hosford with a violent shove during a stoppage in play. The home crowd pleaded with the official to discipline Simmons, but no card was shown.

Clairy Kengeye was a bright spot in the first half for Mobile. In the 27th minute, he displayed some fancy footwork, dancing his way into the right side of the box and playing the ball to Batevya Mediateur, but Mediateur’s shot was saved.

Two minutes later, Mobile’s Amos Ndikumana fired a shot from the left hand side of box that went just over the crossbar.

In the 31st minute, Gaffa’s Michael Kuwornu powered his way behind the Mobile defense and attempted to take a shot from a tight angle. Mobile’s Austin Hilyer attempted to clear it, but the ball took a bad deflection and bounced into the net, giving Gaffa a 1-0 lead.

Mobile nearly equalized in the 45th minute when Chris Rumsey took a shot that was deflected away by the Gaffa keeper, but no one from the home team was able to get on the end of the ball. The ball eventually found the feet of Ndilkumana, who sent a shot over the crossbar.

Mobile was unable to continue the momentum from late in the first half into the second, as Gaffa’s Stephen Roberson chipped a shot from 20 yards out that went soaring over Gibson and into the back of the net, giving the team from Jackson a 2-0 lead.

“I think when the second half started and they scored that goal early,” Nicholas said, “we were pressing, pressing, pressing and we almost pressed too hard and got a little bit out of our wits.”

AFC Mobile nearly pulled a goal back in the 53rd minute when Matt Merrill fired a header off a Mediateur corner kick from point blank range that was saved by the Gaffa keeper.

Gaffa’s Patrick Ross was shown yellow in the 61st minute for forcefully throwing the ball in at Gillespie’s back, but Gillespie was also shown a yellow for inciting the incident.

As the second half continued, Mobile had chances to cut the scoreline in half. In the 66th minute, Mediateur played a ball to Kengeye on the right hand side of the pitch. Despite a heavy first touch, Kengeye took a shot from a tight angle that went into the side netting.

“They got in our heads a little bit… it shows our youth when you’re able to get put off your game like that and that’s what they did to us…we let them get in our heads a little bit,” Nicholas said. 

In the 72nd minute, Ndikumana was brought down in the box. The fans cheered for what they thought was surely a penalty, but their appeals were ignored by the referee.

Gaffa nearly added a third goal to their tally in the 77th minute off a free kick, but the ball was cleared off the line by Gillespie. The away team tacked on one more goal in stoppage time after a giveaway by Mobile’s KC Espoir. Gaffa’s Chance Boardene found himself clear behind the Mobile defense and slotted home the final goal of the night.

Join us next Friday as we say “Thank You Mobile” at our final home match of the 2017 GCPL Season. Kickoff against the reigning GCPL champions, CD Motagua of New Orleans, is at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night, July 7th at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex. Tickets are only $5, and kids 12 and under will be admitted free of charge.

The Mobile Revelers: Mobile’s Original Minor League Soccer Team

There’s no doubt that Mobile is a soccer town. The city is home to high quality men’s and women’s college soccer programs, a number of competitive local high school teams, quality youth clubs, and a burgeoning minor league team. However, AFC Mobile is not the first team to represent the city of Mobile. From 1995 to 1997, between the 1994 World Cup in the United States and the dawn of Major League Soccer, the Mobile Revelers staked a claim as one of the south’s best clubs.

revelers

The team was the brainchild of former University of South Alabama men’s coach Roy Patton. Patton approached local soccer enthusiasts Steve Clements and Ken Kvalheim to form a new professional soccer team to play in the United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues (USISL) Professional League, a multi-regional league sanctioned as a Division III Professional League by the U.S. Soccer Federation. The USISL was a predecessor to the modern day United Soccer League (USL) and Premier Development League (PDL). 

“At the time, the South Alabama [NCAA] program was just on fire and of course Mobile College [NAIA] had a really great program as well. Pretty much all our players came from those two schools,” Clements said. Patton’s goal was to give his college players and other local players the opportunity to continue playing soccer at a high level.  “We hated the fact that they graduated and left us,” Clements said. “That was one of Roy’s primary goals was to give these players an opportunity to continue playing soccer at a level that they might be seen in the bigger leagues.”

The Revelers roster, much like the roster of the South Alabama team at the time, was made up of players from across the globe. “We were not that international, compared to my 1995 season at South [Alabama], but we came from South Africa, England, Scotland, Denmark, Trinidad, and the US,” said former Mobile Reveler left back Søren Jørgensen.

Jørgensen was from Copenhagen, Denmark and earned a scholarship to play for South Alabama. Unfortunately, his high school credits did not properly transfer to the American system and he was unable to meet NCAA eligibility requirements. But he had fallen in love with the Mobile soccer community, and he decided to stay in Mobile and play for the Revelers.

Mobile Reveler left back Søren Jørgensen

Jørgensen said that even though the core of Revelers players graduated from South Alabama in 1994 or ’95, it wasn’t hard to break into the group. “It was easy to enter the group,” Jørgensen said. “As long as you can play some good soccer and drink a beer afterwards.”

Patton originally intended for the team to play its matches at South Alabama. He would coach the team at home and Tom Bierster, his assistant coach, would coach the team on the road. That plan never came to fruition, as behind-the-scenes politics at South Alabama could not be worked out.  “There were issues… I don’t really know exactly everything on that level, but at one point, Joe Gottfried went to Roy and said, ‘look, you can’t play at South… I’m getting too much pressure and if you coach this team, you may not have a job with the college,'” Bierster said.

Ultimately, Bierster took the reigns as the head coach of the Revelers heading into their inaugural season. Soon after, Patton left South Alabama to take the head job at the University of Vermont. He would eventually return to the Port City as the head coach of the University of Mobile.

Despite the talent in the city, not everyone in Mobile embraced soccer. This became apparent during the Revelers search for a home field.  “Some people didn’t understand it at all,” Kvalheim said. “I remember we were looking to do some practice, or some tryouts on the field – and I’ll never forget – a football coach told us that the soccer players would damage his field.”

Ironically, the Revelers finally found a home outside of Mobile at the Fairhope Municipal Soccer Complex, a venue that quickly gained a reputation as one of the nicest facilities in the USISL.  “My second season, everyone wanted to come to Fairhope because they heard how beautiful the field was, and it was,” Bierster said.  

revelers
Mobile Revelers Inaugural Game Roster Sheet

With a stadium deal in place and a roster full of players ready to play, the only thing the club was missing was a moniker. “We wanted to make something that was synonymous to who we are,” Kvalheim said. “We were the first sports team to say ‘we need to capitalize on what makes us unique to the region, what makes us unique to being Mobile,’ and ‘Revelers’ just worked out.”

The Revelers finished their inaugural season in second place in the Southeast Division and were eliminated from the playoffs in the Divisional Semifinal round.  “We got a little bit known out there because our first season we were better than .500 and we got people wanting to come play for us,” Bierster said.  One of the players that Mobile added was Bill Elliott. Elliott is currently the head coach at the University of West Florida and the NPSL’s Chattanooga FC. Elliott said that the core of South Alabama and University of Mobile players were crucial to building the team’s success in the first year.  “All those guys knew each other really well…I think even when they were in college in the offseason they played together, you know, pick up games,” Elliott said. “By the time I joined they had a very good core and I was fortunate enough to be able to work my way into that and become a part of it and really enjoy my time playing there.”

Elliott took the University of West Florida job in 1995 and has been there ever since. He has lead the Argonauts to nine conference championships. He took the managerial position at Chattanooga FC in 2011 and has been the runner-up in three of the last five NPSL National Championships. Elliott thinks the biggest change in the American lower league landscape is the amount of professionalism shown from the clubs at this level.

“In those days, everything in the league was very ‘Bull Durham-ish.’ I think now there’s a lot more professionalism in those leagues… I think there was a lot more gimmicks and minor league baseball marketing tricks to kinda get people out,” Elliott said.  Mobile wasn’t above using wild promotions to draw fans out to the stadium. The Revelers were able to draw 2000 fans to a match by bringing the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in town to perform a halftime show.

Revelers
Mobile Revelers with Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders

Bierster said that Mobile’s greatest game came against one of the USISL’s powerhouses, the Minnesota Thunder. The Thunder had won four consecutive league championships and boasted the likes of future MLS star, Bundesliga regular, and U.S international Tony Sanneh as well as current Minnesota United sporting director Manny Lagos and his brother Gerard.

The Thunder were playing in New Orleans on a Friday night before making the trip to Fairhope on Saturday. Bierster drove to the match in New Orleans and devised a game plan that took the Thunder to the wire. Instead of going at the Thunder head-to-head, Bierster told the Revelers to absorb pressure from the Thunder attack before trying to hit them on the counter. The Thunder found themselves shell-shocked. The Revelers took the game to double-overtime and were mere seconds from a shootout when Tony Sanneh turned a Revs’ defender, launched a shot with his left foot, and won the game 1-0 with five seconds left.  News of the Revelers’ unexpected success against the Thunder spread quickly. Days after the last-second loss, Bierster received a phone call from Bob Gansler, former manager of the US Men’s National Team during the 1990 World Cup in Italy and the head coach of the Milwaukee Rampage at the time, asking Bierster how his Revelers took the Thunder to double-overtime.

The Revelers returned to the playoffs in the 1996 season, but failed to move beyond the Conference Semifinals. Bierster left the team following the 1996 season. The Revelers did not qualify for the playoffs in 1997, which turned out to be their final season.

“The biggest problem with professional sports from our standpoint back then was that we were required by the league, and by conscience frankly, to provide these kids with workers comp insurance and the cost of it became absolutely oppressive to say the least,” Clements said. “With that in mind, with the travel that was involved, we simply couldn’t generate enough money between ticket sales and sponsorships to make it viable.”

The Revelers only lasted for three years in the Mobile area, but their impact on the game in the area can be felt today.  “I really believe that what we did, we created an opportunity to expose a lot of people to a sport that they didn’t know very much about,” Kvalheim said.

AFC Mobile will be paying tribute to the city’s original minor league soccer team by holding Mobile Revelers Night this Saturday, July 1st. Kickoff against Gaffa FC of Jackson, Mississippi is at 7:00 p.m. All tickets are only $5, and kids 12 and under are admitted free. AFC Mobile is also auctioning off an original limited edition Mobile Revelers Inaugural Season Commemorative Poster.  All auction proceeds will be donated to USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital. Click here to participate in the auction. Come out and honor Mobile’s soccer history while supporting your local grassroots soccer team!

AFC Mobile Loses 2-1 to Louisiana Fire

AFC Mobile gave up a one goal lead late in the game after the Louisiana Fire’s Dante Oliver scored two goals in the final minutes to seal a comeback victory.

“We just didn’t have enough moxie to see it through. Gave up two questionable goals, might have been offsides, but regardless we’ve got to to do a little bit better job defending those,” AFC Mobile coach Nate Nicholas said. “I think from the top by me as a coach to the players we’ve gotta find a better way to finish it out and come out with a victory. But the boys fought hard, it was a well fought game for us, we just didn’t capitalize on the chances we were given.”

Mobile started the match strong. In the opening minutes of the match, Matt Merrill sent a free kick over the crossbar. Minutes later, Chisom Ogbonna cut in from the left hand side of the pitch to test the Fire keeper, Pepe Serrano.

Nine minutes into a frantic first half, AFC Mobile goalkeeper Brent Grube saved a penalty from the Fire’s Igor Siscov to keep the score level.

Minutes after, Ogbonna was taken down in the box, but neither a yellow card nor a penalty was awarded.

Ogbonna left the field, but returned shortly thereafter. In the 26th minute, Ogbanna gave Mobile its best chance of the match when he bicycle-kicked a shot from the middle of the box that sailed just wide of the far post.

The game was deadlocked at zero to start the second half. Mobile was tested early when a shot from the Fire bounced out of Grube’s hands. The ball fell to a Fire player whose shot at the open goal was cleared off the line by newcomer Dawson Jellenc.

“Dawson played centerback the whole 90 minutes, and we needed him out there—especially with Memo [Lumbreras] taking a knock there at the end of the game.” Nicholas said. “Overall he did pretty well, but you could also see he’s a young kid who’s still learning some stuff. But for a debut with a semi-pro team, being with the guys for only two practices, I thought he played really, really well.”

In the 67th minute,  Ogbonna played a ball across the face of the goal to Amos Ndikumana, whose shot went just over the crossbar.

Minutes later, Sherman Winchester headed the ball to Moses Muhubao, who slotted it home to break the deadlock and give AFC Mobile the lead. The go-ahead goal was Muhubao’s second of the season.

In the 77th minute, AFC Mobile nearly doubled its lead when Batevya Mediateur found Ogbonna on the right hand side, but he couldn’t convert.

The Fire’s Dante Oliver managed to get past the Mobile back line in the 89th minute to equalize. Minutes later in stoppage time, Oliver scored the game winner for the Fire, in spite of impassioned cries from the crowd that he was offside.

The loss gives AFC Mobile an 0-0-2 record on the season. The Fire move to 1-0-1 after falling to Jackson, Mississippi’s Gaffa FC last week. Next Saturday, AFC Mobile will head to Jackson to take on Gaffa FC, who beat the reigning GCPL champions, CD Motagua of New Orleans, 4-2 on Saturday night.

AFC Mobile will play its next home game on June 10th at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex against Biloxi City FC. Tickets are only $5.00, and kids 12 and under will be admitted free of charge. RSVP today and invite your friends!  Be sure to follow AFC Mobile on all your favorite social media platforms: Facebook: AFC Mobile; Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat: @AFCMobile.

Select Players from Open Tryout to Join Invitational

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TWELVE PLAYERS FROM AFC MOBILE’S OPEN TRYOUTS INVITED TO THE INVITATIONAL TRYOUT

Last Saturday, AFC Mobile held its first ever Open Tryout with close to 50 people gathered at Herndon (Sage) Park in Mobile. After that session, the following players are being invited to to the club’s Invitational Tryout. They will join other invited players competing for the opportunity to be part of AFC Mobile’s inaugural roster.

  • David Blake
  • Jorden Cruz
  • Mathieu Dazet
  • Jorge Fuentes
  • Brent Grube
  • Austin Hilyer
  • Greg Hosford
  • Christopher Rumsey
  • Guillermo Lumberas
  • Jason Mallis
  • Troy Willman
  • Sherman Winchester

These players will join other players invited for the opportunity to be part of AFC Mobile’s inaugural roster.

ABOUT AFC Mobile

AFC Mobile was formed in 2015 to strengthen the soccer community in Mobile by bringing a high level soccer team to the largest municipality along the Gulf Coast between St. Petersburg and New Orleans. AFC Mobile aims to provide local players an opportunity to continue to play the game at a competitive level, as well as to give the soccer community and City of Mobile a team to call their own.

CONTACT:

Mitchell Kahalley
mkahalley@afcmobile.net
(251) 272-9507

-END-

AFC MOBILE AIMS TO RAISE $5,000 THROUGH CROWDFUNDING PLATFORM GOFUNDME.COM

go-fund-afc

AFC Mobile Aims To Raise $5,000 Through Crowdfunding Platform GoFundMe.com

Mobile, Alabama January 3, 2017 – Mobile’s newest sports team, AFC Mobile, announced today that it will be launching a seed round funding campaign using the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe.com effective immediately. The club is targeting to raise up to $5,000 to help in its first competitive season in the Gulf Coast Premier League.

“As an organization, we are ambitious and want our whole community behind us. We are hoping for a few people to donate small amounts – really no more than five to ten dollars,” said AFC Mobile board member Abram Chamberlain. “Our goals are modest but our ambitions are huge.”

AFC Mobile is expected to help grow the already flourishing soccer scene in Mobile, Alabama by providing players aged 16 and older a local club competing in a nationally qualified league. If you would be interested in reading more about AFC Mobile’s GoFundMe campaign, or donating to it, you can find more information at http://www.gofundme.com/afc-mobile.

ABOUT AFC Mobile

AFC Mobile was formed in 2015 to strengthen the soccer community in Mobile by bringing high level soccer team to the largest municipality along the Gulf Coast between St. Petersburg, Florida and New Orleans, Louisiana. AFC Mobile aims to give local players an opportunity to continue to play the game at a competitive level, as well as giving the soccer community and city of Mobile a team to call their own.

CONTACT:
afcmobilewanderers@gmail.com
(251) 272-9507