Tag: Causeway Rebellion

Mobile Falls 3-1 In First Leg of the Forgotten Coast Cup

Another wild chapter of the Forgotten Coast Cup was written on Wednesday night when AFC Mobile travel to Herbert Wilson Stadium in Gulfport, Mississippi to take on the rebranded Port City FC (formerly Biloxi City FC.) This match was originally scheduled to take place on Memorial Day weekend, but it was postponed due to the possibility of inclement weather. The Azaleas held a 1-0 lead for the majority of the game before ultimately falling to the Sounders 3-1.

The Azaleas were coming into the game after an incredible 4-3 comeback victory over Pensacola FC and were looking to claim one of two games in hand over the rest of their Eastern Conference opponents. 

Mobile burst out of the gate, dominating the early stages of the match. The Azaleas first chance came after Brantton “Sunshine” Greene charged his way through the pitch and passed the ball to Clairy Kengeye. Kengeye found Chisom Ogbonna who sent his shot wide. The Sounders retaliated minutes later but Mobile’s keeper easily saved Ethan Loftin’s shot. The Azaleas had another chance in the 15th minute when Kengeye boomed down the right wing and found a charging Chisom Ogbonna, who was flagged offside. 

However, it wouldn’t be long before Ogbonna found the score sheet. In the 20th minute Sherman Winchester sent the ball to Martin Fiemawhle who pulled the ball back and sent it across the box to Ogbonna who fired home the opening goal against Port City keeper Grant Adam. 

The Sounders attacked the Mobile defense for the next fifteen minutes. They thought they had their equalizer in the 35th minute after Hall’s shot dribbled its way into the back of the net after multiple deflections in the box. However, the goal was ruled offside and Mobile kept their 1-0 lead as both teams headed into the half. 

“To be honest with you from what I understand, this past weekend they rested several of their starters. We basically had the same group going and I think in the second half their energy raised up where we kind of got tired,” AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas said. “We weren’t playing too terribly but we were absorbing a lot of pressure and they were playing very direct…and I think we got tired from constantly chasing and them hitting long balls.” 

Port City started the second half as the stronger side, but the first clearcut chance of the half came when Kengeye and Fiemawhle beautifully worked the ball back and forth between the two of them nearly resulting in a Kengeye shot. Port City nearly pulled a goal back when Loftin juked his way through the box and was brought down. The home fans clamored for a penalty, but it was not given.

In the 63rd minute, Port City forward Michael Cooper was played in behind the Mobile defense by Jordan Hall, but Hall’s shot was saved by Gibson. 

Port City equalized in the 72nd minute after Hall worked his way into the box and smashed a shot home past Gibson. In true Forgotten Coast Cup fashion, controversy erupted after Port City defender Joe Elliot dropped his shorts and “mooned” the Causeway Rebellion moments after the equalizing goal. 

 The Sounders took the lead in the 86th minute after Steven Gallagher found Austin Miller who brought the ball down Cavan Doherty who slotted it home. 

Late in the game, Mobile was awarded a free kick. While setting up for the kick, both teams participated in a pushing match which came to a head when Ogbonna shoved a Port City player in the neck.  Ogbonna was shown a straight red for violent conduct and will be suspended for at least one match. 

“Once again, I feel like it’s a weekly thing talking about referees and decisions and how they play in the league.  I don’t know if it was necessarily the wrong call; like I said I couldn’t see it very well, but obviously at that point the game had gotten out of hand again so it’s just one of those things, something was bound to happen. We got caught with some retaliation and we ended up with the red card. 

The Azaleas would nearly equalize late into stoppage time. Keeper Elijah Gibson ran up to join the Mobile attack in the box. Fiemawhle sent a free-kick towards goal and Mobile players got a touch on the ball but it bounced around in the box, ultimately not being able to find the back of the net. The Sounders got out on the break and Joao Victor slotted the ball home into the empty net to seal a 3-1 win for Port City.

The Azaleas will return to The Lip this Saturday night to face GCPL cross-conference opponent Alexandria FC. Kickoff for that game is at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 23rd at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are just $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.

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AFC Mobile Falls 4-3 in GCPL Opener

Despite a late rally and a goal in the 85th minute, AFC Mobile fell 4-3 to Pensacola FC at home in the first Gulf Coast Premier League match of the season.

Pensacola started on the front foot, nearly opening the scoring in the fourth minute of the match when a shot from Pensacola’s Matt Brooks ricocheted off the crossbar and out for a Mobile goal kick. Four minutes later, Pensacola’s Dillon Gallet found his way in behind the Mobile defense, but keeper Elijah Gibson collected Gallet’s attempt.

Minutes later Mobile forward Iba Ndaw was brought down outside the box and awarded a free kick. Ndaw curled in a free kick into the left corner to give the Azaleas a 1-0 lead. It was Ndaw’s second free kick goal in an AFC Mobile shirt.

“You definitely could see we had some attacking talent out there. Iba Ndaw had a couple more goals. That’s been a great pickup for us.” AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas said.

In the 21st minute, Chisom Ogbonna beat the Pensacola defense but his shot was easily collected by Pensacola keeper Rudy Seelman. Pensacola would nearly equalize in the 26th minute but Christopher Zeller’s header was stopped by Gibson.

Pensacola’s equalizer would not be delayed long, however, coming in the 30th minute in the form of an own goal after Martin Fiemawhle’s attempt to collect a low cross from Pensacola ended up in the back of the net. But only three minutes later, the Azaleas took a 2-1 lead after a shot from Ndaw fell to Ogbonna in at the back post.

Chisom Ogbonna after scoring against Pensacola FC on May 12, 2018. (Photo: Seth Laubinger)

In the 36th minute, Ndaw was fouled hard and returned to his feet gingerly. Minutes later coach Nicholas subbed Ndaw off for Abdul Almutairi. Almutairi, a former Kuwaiti U-17 international, was able to slot in several attacking positions throughout the match in his GCPL and AFC Mobile debut.

Just before the end of the half, Pensacola’s Isaiah Lopez headed in a shot at the back post to level the game at 2-2 after a high cross went untouched. Seconds later, Lopez was shown yellow during stoppage time of the first half after a hard flying tackle.

Pensacola took their first lead of the game in the 64th minute when Alik Morgan slotted in a low cross that deflected off Gibson. As the away team scored its third goal, Mobile centerback Pablo Sanjuan Delgado came off with a leg injury and was replaced with Guillermo Lumbreras, Jr.  

“For him to get injured and give up the game-leading goal at that time, at the same time, it was a tough pill to swallow.” Nicholas said.

The Azaleas nearly equalized in the 68th minute when Ndaw beat the Pensacola defense, but his low shot went across the face of goal. Two minutes later, Pensacola took a 4-2 lead after a scramble in the box.

Pensacola almost iced the match with a fifth goal on the night when an advancing Elijah Gibson was chipped, but the shot was cleared off the line by Mobile’s Markos Mallis, who played all 90 minutes for the home side. 

As is their wont, Mobile made it close. In the 85th minute, midfielder David Valverde’s pass opened the Pensacola defense to find Erik Aispuro on the wing. Aispuro then sent in a cross to the penalty spot, where Ndaw powered in the shot to put Mobile back in the game with five minutes left to play, sending the 871 fans in attendance into a frenzy. 

The Azaleas pushed for an equalizer late, but a last ditch free kick at the end of stoppage time was easily cleared. The match ended 4-3. 

AFC Mobile will travel to Lafayette, Louisiana to take on Cajun Soccer Club in the first of two out of conference matches this season on Saturday. That match kicks off at 6 p.m. at LUS FIber stadium. 

AFC Mobile will return to The Lip in three weeks to take on GCPL newcomers Real United FC Riverhawks. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 2 at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are only $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.

 

Getting to Know You: Northshore United FC

The return of AFC Mobile to the Archbishop Lipscomb Stadium is upon us. On Saturday, April 28th, the Azaleas open up the Lip as they take on GCPL debutant Northshore United FC at 7:00 pm. After facing off against one of the more historic amateur sides in the country, AFC Mobile will meet a fellow GCPL team in preseason action. This will be Northshore United’s first match after their inaugural year in which they competed in friendly matches against several GCPL teams.

CLUB: Northshore United FC

NICKNAME: United

Northshore United will look for a productive start in its inaugural GCPL season.  United is setup up like a traditional PDL team with more college players than local talent.  The club was created with hopes to fill the gap between the end of youth club competitive play and the professional level.  The Covington, Louisiana based team played seven friendlies last summer finishing with a 6-1 record in friendlies including against several GCPL and GCPL reserve sides.

The club held its final open tryout on Saturday, April 21, leaving one week of preparation for this weekend’s match.  “My expectations are just for continued growth,” said Head Coach Nick Chetta.  “To give an opportunity for some guys to show their abilities and hopefully find some to help us to be successful this year,” Chetta added.

NUFC will also get its first taste of a large GCPL crowd.  “I don’t know if any of our players have experienced an environment like AFC Mobile,” said NUFC Captain Sal Bavido.  “It should be exciting and a bit nerve-racking for us.  I’m sure we’ll settle in after ten minutes of playing, but definitely looking forward to the atmosphere and the experience.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sal Bavido, who serves as the team captain, will be pulling strings for the Northshore attack in the midfield. Meanwhile, the defensive prowess and leadership of NUFC’s 2017 MVP Pat Rye will prove invaluable as they enter Sweet Lunacy’s County Seat for the 2018 home debut of AFC Mobile.

The club can be found at www.northshoreutd.com and on twitter @northshoreutd.

Tickets to Saturday’s game are just $5 each, and all kids 12 and under will be admitted free of charge.  There is still time to purchase season tickets giving you admission to all seven home games for only $27!  All AFC Mobile home games are played at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Conference located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile.

AFC Mobile 2018 Season Passes Now On Sale

The 2018 AFC Mobile season will soon begin and now is your chance to get season passes to the party!

The 2018 season includes seven home games at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex. Home games will be played April 28th against Northshore United (of Covington, LA), the weekend of May 4th-6th against a soon-to-be-announced opponent, May 12th against Pensacola FC, June 2nd against Real United FC (of Moss Point, MS), June 9th against Gulf Coast Rangers FC (of Foley, AL), June 23rd against Alexandria FC (of Alexandria, LA), and July 14th against Port City FC (of Gulfport, MS).

Season passes will be available for pickup at Will Call on game day.  Three season pass options are available:

Season Pass A ($27.00)

  • A high quality, embossed, silicone AFC Mobile Season Pass Wristband, which gives you access to ALL 2018 regular season home games and friendlies
  • 10% discount code for purchases made at the online store
  • Pre-sale priority for any playoff match
  • Invitation to the jersey release party

Season Pass B ($40.00) – Available through 12:00 pm (CT) on Sunday, April 8, 2018

  • A high quality, embossed, silicone AFC Mobile Season Pass Wristband, which gives you access to ALL 2018 regular season home games and friendlies
  • 10% discount code for purchases made at the online store
  • An exclusive AFC Mobile 2018 t-shirt OR the 2018 “Sweet Lunacy’s County Seat” supporter’s scarf
  • Pre-sale priority for any playoff match
  • Invitation to the jersey release party

Season Pass C ($65.00) – Available through 12:00 pm (CT) on Sunday, April 8, 2018

  • A high quality, embossed, silicone AFC Mobile Season Pass Wristband, which gives you access to ALL 2018 regular season home games and friendlies
  • 10% discount code for purchases made at the online store
  • Replica 2018 AFC Mobile home jersey
  • Pre-sale priority for any playoff match
  • Invitation to the jersey release party

Season Pass Packages may be purchased online through our shop or by clicking one of the above links.  Scarves ordered with Package B will ship soon after you place your order.  Exclusive T-Shirts ordered with Package B and Jerseys ordered with Package C are pre-sale only, and will be shipped at a later date.

Package B-Exclusive T-Shirt and Package C are only available through 12:00 pm (CT) on Sunday, April 8, 2018. Shop now to take advantage of these great deals!

We look forward to seeing you at the Lip this season!

Shatarva

Fan Reaction: Nervous Energy

No one knew exactly what to expect at the home opener for AFC Mobile. But the AFC Mobile’s supporters group, the Causeway Rebellion, and its Red Leader were exceptionally nerve wracked awaiting the first ever game.

In this Fan Reaction, supporter Michael Shartava recounts how the first ever AFC Mobile match surpassed his own expectation and how a soccer culture in need of an outlet took hold and took off.

AFC Mobile is the epitome of a grassroots club.

I wake up early on a Mother’s Day Sunday. Typically I like to sleep in on weekends, but am wide awake today. I am nervous as hell… On my TV Barcelona has won 2-0 but today is not about the Blaugrana or professional football. Today AFC Mobile plays its inaugural match in the Gulf Coast Premier League against our neighbor, Pensacola’s Gulf Coast Texans (currently rebranded as Pensacola FC). The first high end football match in Mobile for more than ten years.

AFC Mobile is the epitome of a grassroots club. Owned and operated by local enthusiasts, AFCM has given the footballing community a sense of identity and camaraderie. Our players were recruited from the South Alabama Soccer Association (adult city league) and area schools. Volunteers and owners’ families make up the stadium and club staff. The board of directors even reached out to every youth club in Mobile and invited their kids to mascot for the team during pregame introductions. My seven-year-old nephew will always remember walking out with AFC Mobile for their first match ever.

There is a ragtag group of scoundrels and low lives for a supporters group, it’s called the Causeway Rebellion; I was drafted in as Red Leader (Red, cause I’m Russian, get it?). At The Lip, our stadium, flags fly for every nationality (what’s up to the Serengeti Boys) in our club and an all inclusive attitude is promoted. During the season we honored our little hero Bradley Lowery after his fight with neuroblastoma and always speak out loudly against all forms of racism and extremism; its a powerful outlet.

That is what got me so nervous this morning. Will anyone show up to the match? Can we create an atmosphere of support and energy for our lads? Will Gold Leader bring any Malört?

Nervous energy…

Cup of coffee. Nicotine. Chill out man, it will be good!

I arrive to the stadium an hour and a half early with my nephew to get ready for the walkouts and there is already a crowd forming in the stands… holy crap this is going to be big. Nervous energy turns into excitement and adrenaline, I feel this pressure cooker about to blow!

The match flies by in the blink of an eye. There are over 800 fans, singing, screaming, chanting, and willing our team forward. The energy in the stadium makes the hairs on my arms stand up. Mobile “turn’t up” with drums, trumpets, CONCH SHELLS, vuvuzelas, loud speakers, two poles, banners, you name it! The noise was unreal. Somewhere in the chaos, Moises Muhubao scored our first goal ever and was eternally immortalized in lore. It was like we won the Champions League! The owners were crying tears of joy! An amazing evening.

Afterward I had a moment to reflect on the day and what it meant to me. I came to the conclusion that this is what has been missing from my life. Football has been my love since childhood, but my Russian parents wanted me to play chess and study, ha, ha, ha. I went to my first match (Bundesliga, 2006) when I was an adult but I have been a passionate fan of Brazil’s Seleção since World Cup USA in ’94 and FC Barcelona shortly after that (most of my favorite Brazilians played at Barca). I was a long distance fan. A lone wolf…

After Mother’s Day 2017, I gained a pack of crazy, like-minded FANATIC brothers and sisters. A sense of identity and belonging. The coming together of the African, Latino, and Balkan immigrant communities with old Mobile. I can sing and chant at home matches and take away-days with the Causeway Rebellion on The War Wagon; I was meant to do this!

I hope you’re ready for next season, because we are going to be louder, stronger and still crazy as hell in those stands. There will be big tifo displays, choreography, and of course high decibels of noise.

Join the Rebellion!

Red Leader, out.

#AlwaysMobileALwaysHome
#AFCMobile
#CausewayRebellion

Fan Reaction: Grassroots Growth

I’ve always been a sports fan. Growing up, I participated in sports but wasn’t all that good. I played a little junior high soccer, got cut from the team at basketball try-outs; and while I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where hockey was king, I couldn’t skate to save my life.

But my dad took me to a hockey game or two, and I still remember the fight between the Marquette Iron Rangers and the Green Bay Bobcats with 52 seconds left in the game. It was quite a sight. When the ice finally cleared of players, it was still covered with gloves and hockey sticks… and a little blood. Not sure this is good for an 8-year-old to see, but I was hooked. And I went to everything after our family moved to Seattle — football, baseball, basketball, hockey, even a soccer team called the Seattle Sounders.

The Sounders became a very big deal to me and introduced me to soccer in the 70s. Tickets weren’t expensive, and I could easily go to their games as a kid. So my friends and I would take the bus in to watch them play at the Kingdome. Fun Fact: the Sounders drew over 58,000 to a game in 1975 and were averaging about 25,000 fans a game by the late 1970s. The energy in the building was awesome, even though we still hadn’t figured out supporters group or scarves or any of the things we associate with soccer today. Sadly, soccer wasn’t quite a thing yet in the rest of the country. The NASL of that era spent too much money and had too few fans, and the league collapsed in the early 1980s.

As my sports fandom grew, so did my awareness that I was definitely NOT an athlete. I instead became the best fan I could be — loyal, loud, proud, and with the team to the end. If I couldn’t make an impact on the field, at least I could contribute from the stands. I’ve always cheered for the home team, where the jersey represents the communities I’ve called home.

The teams don’t have to be good, just ours!

Enter AFC Mobile — a club founded from the grassroots, a labor of love. AFC Mobile was formed to support soccer, and then joined a league and put out a schedule. When it became clear that we finally had a team, one that would represent our community, that was simply fantastic news to me! I don’t totally know how to describe my excitement, and my nervousness about this soccer experiment. Would soccer even work in Mobile? My wife and I decided we had to buy season tickets. Sure, we love soccer and wanted to see the games, but we also understood the importance of “butts in seats” to a team’s success. If this was going to work, it was critical that fans show up.

We didn’t need to worry.

AFC Mobile came out of the gates with more than 800 fans for its first match, one scheduled on Mother’s Day. The atmosphere was just incredibly fun, thanks in part to the Causeway Rebellion supporters group, but also due to the pent up energy of a crowd that was just excited to have a team and had been anticipating this opening match for some time.

We lost the game, but we clearly won the hearts and minds of the community. At the next game, the crowd was even bigger. And at the home finale, we had more than one thousand people on hand. This is in a league that typically drew 200 or fewer fans a game, and the Mobile community delivered five times that! Sweet lunacy, indeed!

AFC Mobile became something more than a team in its inaugural season. They became our club, our community, and a rallying point for a city that’s used to cheering for teams 200 miles away (looking at you, Auburn and Alabama). They embraced the community, and we loved them right back.

Even though the first season wasn’t great on the pitch, AFC Mobile is ours.

We finally got the elusive first win at the very last match of the season — a wild affair on the road that saw AFC Mobile take down its arch rival Biloxi City FC. (And how Biloxi became our derby match is a grand story in itself, best saved for another day).

If there was promotion and relegation in our league, we would have been relegated. We won one game in ten, finishing in last place, and yet it was one of the best times I’ve ever had in sports. Because so many people came out, so many people cared, and something special happened in the Azalea City. I was sad when the season ended.

In American soccer, teams don’t move to the next level on the pyramid because they’re good. They move on to the next level for a metric that’s at least as important: fan support! AFC Mobile and this community passed its first test. AFC Mobile had a great first season in the stands, and it will grow. When I met some of our players at the kit reveal before this inaugural season, I reminded them of who they were, and what they represent. Years and maybe decades from now, they will always be the first representatives of our community’s soccer team. They were keenly aware of this, and thrilled to be part of it.

As supporters, we should also remember our role in all this. We showed up and we wore scarves (in 90 degree heat) and we sang and we stomped. We bought swag and wore it proudly. We made the players feel like they were part of something. We showed a community that soccer can and will work in a city that’s addicted to the other kind of football. We did the unexpected.

We can take pride in that fact as fans and supporters. We are the first generation of AFC Mobile, and we are laying the foundation for the best that’s yet to come.

Always Mobile, ALways Home.

#SL1702

 

Fan Reaction: Pride, City, Club

Soccer has become huge in the United States. Groups in Mobile gather to watch US Men’s and Women’s National Team games as well as the English Premier League, the top Mexican division, America’s Major League Soccer, and many more leagues from around the world. However, nothing can compare to supporting a team that represents you, your culture, and your city. Nothing is better than pride, city, club.

In this Fan Reaction, supporter Sam Zanaty explains how his passion for soccer and his love of Mobile were able to mesh together and explode into something truly special.

We made ourselves known with the “M-O-B” chant

When I reflect back on growing up in Mobile, I fondly remember attending Mobile Bay Bears and Mystics games. If I had played my cards just right, I’d be fortunate enough to get Dippin’ Dots ice cream! And like most youngsters, I’d hope for a chance of catching a foul ball or getting a post-game autograph from one of the players. These are my memories of sporting events in Mobile.

Today, I’m 25 years old, my passion for sports can best be described as a love for the game of soccer. You’ll most definitely find me rooting for the men’s and woman’s US National Teams (but let’s not discuss the men’s team right now) and my favorite teams from Europe. COYS!

Still, there is something very special about supporting your hometown. I remember distinctly my excitement to find out that the city of Mobile would have a soccer team. I was relaxing one weekend checking out posts on Facebook when I saw one regarding AFC Mobile. My first swag purchase was a scarf, and later would follow with both a home and away jersey. That’s right… I do get a bit passionate about soccer teams. After a couple hats and another scarf, I felt like my swag collection was ready to represent AFC Mobile. Some would say I purchased too many things (You’re welcome AFC Mobile financial group).

The first home game I was able to attend was against Biloxi City FC (now Port City FC). Little did I, or anyone else in attendance, know that the game would be a roller coaster ride full of unexpected turns. Numerous goals, a scary injury and more red cards issued in a single team that I’ve ever witnessed in person. Unfortunately, we lost. However, I instantly bonded with the other fans in attendance, rooting our team on to represent our city.

Another fond memory I had of last season was attending the game where we broke 1,000 fans in attendance! Fans made up of young families, and a few hooligans, all wanting to support AFC Mobile. Being a part of the Causeway Rebellion and providing the boys a supportive atmosphere at home (and away) was an absolute blast! We made ourselves known with the “M-O-B” chant. If you are unfamiliar with it, google the Icelandic national team chant. Just imagine if we, Mobilians, can get 2,000 people to perform this at a game.

During the last home game, as I was leaving the Lip, I overheard a little girl speaking to her father and she asked “Are we coming back again next weekend?” The dad was unsure of the schedule so I had to be the barer of bad news that tonight was the last home game until next season. She was bummed of course, but then filled with excitement for the next season.

Me too young lady!

The future of the beautiful game of soccer is bright with our youth, and if we can continue to support this great game and our hometown team, who knows the level of success AFC Mobile can reach. I encourage all who are reading, to attend a game this upcoming 2018 season. You will not be disappointed and who knows, you too might unleash your love of the game.

For the love of the beautiful game.

Fan Reaction: The AFC Mobile Family

Mobile is a port city. A city of different cultures. A city of distinct identities. A city of disparate ideals. However, for ninety minutes on Saturdays, the people in Mobile gather together to cheer on their team. They become one voice with one cause. All of this grown from one idea: community.

In this Fan Reaction, supporter Stephanie Ward talks about how the club and its fans have become another family to her.

As fans we wanted more. We wanted something to call our own.

When I was asked to share my feelings about AFC I immediately said yes! I’m excited to write about one of the things I feel very passionately about. Soccer in general holds a special place in my heart. I was first introduced to the game when I traveled to Germany in 1989 as an exchange student. I fell in love immediately.

My boys played soccer when they were young and when I was dating my husband he would come out to practices and games. He knew nothing about the sport but quickly learned and even started doing a little assistant coaching at the YMCA. We had friends who played in the adult league at Sage Park where my husband eventually got a spot on a team. I would get several of my friends on Sundays and we would go out and watch him play. We would make a day of it…watching several teams.

As we both got more involved with the local soccer scene we discovered a group of fans who would gather at a local pub to watch the World Cup. Eventually the Crazy 88s, our local AO chapter, was born. We would get together and watch the US play any chance we could. Some of those same people also gather early on Saturday mornings to watch Premier League soccer.

As fans we wanted more. We wanted something to call our own. A group of very dedicated and diligent people worked tirelessly to finally bring us AFC! Yes! We now have our very own team, representing our great city, to support. I remember as the first home game approached, I was a little nervous that attendance would be low. I was pleasantly surprised when I looked around to see the stands almost full. We broke attendance records with the Gulf Coast Premier League that weekend. I cannot put into words to how much pride I felt for our new team.

So, what does AFC mean to me? The first thing that comes to mind is family. We gather together before the games to eat and celebrate. We gather together at the games and sing our songs and cheer with one voice. We know the players by name and a lot of them have taken the time to get to know us. It kind of feels like we all have this wonderful adoptive child that we love and want to protect.

I can hardly wait until next season! I know our family will continue to grow and break records. I’m so proud of what AFC has done so far and I’m looking forward to what they will do in 2018! As we say in the Rebellion…. Always Mobile Always Home!!

 

Fan Reaction: More than Soccer

“Down in Mobile, they’re all crazy,” or so begins the infamous Eugene Walter’s line. Nothing has brought out the feelings of every event being a party than the cow bells, drumming, second-lining, and other antics of the Causeway Rebellion. Every game is a party, and what began as a simple game has exploded into an event for everyone to take part in. But it goes beyond the ninety minutes.

In our second Fan Reaction, supporter Dustin “the cow bell guy” Wilson explains how AFC Mobile has become part of his daily routine.

I realized how in an almost eerie way how threads of my life connect back to AFC Mobile.

I think there are a lot of ways I could tell you what AFC Mobile means to me.

When I sat down to write this I was so full of good ideas I literally typed 5 or 6 full blogs out and looked them all over with some smug sense of accomplishment steeped in the tradition of a hipster who types poems on an antique typewriter for $5.00 each.

Then I highlighted them all and deleted them.

I didn’t like any of them.  The words I’d written seemed disingenuous at best, placating and condescending at worst.   Words like hope and pride and community fell to my fingers and spilled onto the pages ceaselessly and in the end, each of the blogs I’d written seemed very much like well written canned marketing hooey.

AFC Mobile is a soccer team.  The gentlemen on the team, and the people coaching and supporting the team, play a game.  They do it in a place surrounded by people laughing and cheering and screaming.  When you boil it down, it’s not much more than that.  So despite my un-wavering support of them, I had to ask myself. What does AFC Mobile actually mean to me?

And I thought.

And I thought more.

And about 2 hours and several thoughts later, it hit me.

AFC Mobile means almost everything to me.

I realized how in an almost eerie way how threads of my life connect back to AFC Mobile.   I can look back to the tiniest beginnings of the maroon and gold azalea and remember how my U6 coaching debut was against teams coached by AFC Mobile board members.  And while we’re on the subject of kids, mine were excited to go to each match and made homemade banners and signs to support the players and coaching staff.

If we are talking about homemade, I suppose I should talk about the custom cowbells and face paint mixtures I bought (because NO ONE sells the perfect AFC colors) to use in support of the team.  Being known as ‘the cow bell guy’ was a highlight of my summer year for sure.

Thinking about my financial expenditures in support of the team now, I fondly thought about the smile on my face every single time I wear my AFC Mobile silicone bracelet that served as my season ticket.  I wear it frequently; I love the way it reminds me of all the excitement throughout the season.  Another outlay was the ticket to the supporters’ bus to the Biloxi away match.  That may have turned out to be the best money I spent all year.

That was the trip where people who were just faces in the crowd became friends. The men, women, and even kids I had seen all year were now standing beside me, yelling, screaming, and singing as one single unit.  It made me feel like a part of something.  My nominal financial investment in support of the team seemed to have had one of the highest returns on investment of any money I’ve ever spent.

There was another investment I thought about while on the subject which was the investment of my time.  Silly frustration permeated my thoughts however, when there were no ‘bad’ moments spent in connection with AFC.  Whether it was being physically present, recounting matches with friends over pints, arguing over calls by the linesman or the referee, or the time I spend plotting and planning how to be a better more flamboyant supporter next year.  There was a lot of time spent in connection with AFC Mobile and the more I tried to discredit it, the more evident it became that it was time well spent.

These thought processes really led me to memories.  Surely, I thought, the memories connected to AFC Mobile worth cherishing and holding on to were fewer than I realized.  There were those memories of my kids being a feature photo in a recap of a match and how excited they were to wave at all the player each time they went by.   There were the memories of watching my friend and neighbor break a rib jumping the fence to celebrate the team’s first win.  There were the memories of grown men and women running down to the side of the field to give high fives and hugs to sweaty players who for 90 minutes were the root cause of every emotion experienced.

They couldn’t all be good memories worth holding right?  Realistically I won’t remember the smiles on the player’s faces, or the flags of many nations waving at the stadium, or the sore voices the day after matches from yelling so hard.  The names of the players, the supporters, the owners.  Those are things that surely were not going to stay in my head. The taste of Jepsen’s Malort shared on a supporters’ trip, okay well maybe that memory is terrifying, but the friendship and camaraderie born of that drink is certainly not.  I can concede however the swarm of termites early in the season was a touch unpleasant but seeing 850 people all swatting at the air at the same time actually looks pretty humorous and it was towards the end of the match anyway so even the bugs had the decency to not be too bothersome.

I kept trying to find something, anything, even in some remote, Kevin Bacon game way that wasn’t actually connected to AFC Mobile and I just kept failing.

My sense of community pride in the mayor who showed up to a match, the silly second line parade, the Causeway Rebellion, the phrase Sweet Lunacy, the Facebook friend request from one of the star players, (OMG CHISOM FRIEND REQUESTED ME!!!) the fact that in this time of swirling craziness outside the bounds of our team, AFC Mobile becomes a safe unifying topic of conversation that transcends borders, nationalities, race, status, demographics, or any other barrier we can construct.

So when I was asked to say what AFC Mobile means to me, I can honestly say,

Everything.

Fan Reaction: Discovering Sweet Lunacy’s Soccer Culture

For centuries, the lighthouses on Mobile Bay have guided sailors home to safe harbor in Mobile. Since AFC Mobile’s founding, this club has held the people of Mobile as directional beacons, as guiding lights. With that in mind, we are turning the keys to AFCMobile.net over to said supporters to talk about their experiences in year one. For the next few weeks, various fans will elaborate on what exactly this club – their club – means to them.

Our first blog is written by Robert McArthur. Robert and his wife Betty have been huge supporters of the club since its inception. Robert explains how the club ended up striking a chord and affecting him and his wife during its inaugural season.

Prior to this AFC Mobile season, Betty and I had generally confined our soccer viewing to our television at home.

My wife Betty and I were on a Gulf Coast Tours bus a few months ago on our way back to Sweet Lunacy’s County Seat from Mississippi. We were in the good company of other AFC Mobile supporters. We had all ventured west to witness our side take on our new heated and hated rivals Biloxi City FC.

We were both experiencing what we could only describe as a bittersweet moment. Sweet, because AFC Mobile avenged an earlier season defeat at home against Biloxi with a comprehensive thrashing of our rivals on their home field. A wonderful night, indeed. Bitter, because this was the last game of our first season…and we wanted more.

We first found out about AFC Mobile about a year ago through some social media post. Our excitement began to grow immediately. We participated in a Go Fund Me initiative to help give the organization an initial financial boost; we bought t-shirts, scarves, etc.; and we helped spread the word to anyone we knew that had even a passing interest in soccer that Mobile now had a team. We attended the jersey reveal downtown and began counting down weeks and days to the first ever game. 2017 matches came and went and the club never disappointed. Betty and I attended all home matches at the Lip and, as mentioned before, one away game against Biloxi. There were many others fans who did the same.

We cannot say enough  regarding the hard work and passion that was brought to the atmosphere of each match by AFC Mobile’s supporters group: the Causeway Rebellion. The Causeway Rebellion brought an unparalleled energy around the team which I believe was instrumental in the overall success of the first season.

Yes, a few more wins would have been great, but in the grand scheme of things the win-loss tally really wasn’t the big take away from the first season. Everything about AFC Mobile was done right and done well. I know “we” made an impression on the rest of the Gulf Coast Premier League. The fact that AFC Mobile was attracting league-wide record crowds with nearly each successive game became news locally, regionally and even nationally.

All of this in the initial season. It is clear to all that witnessed it that the first season, by all measures, was an overwhelming success and just the beginning of something truly special.

Prior to this AFC Mobile season, Betty and I had generally confined our soccer viewing to our television at home. The surprising benefit of our participation and support of AFC Mobile has been that it has opened us up to a whole new group of friends. We have become American Outlaws with Chapter 88 in Mobile, and regularly watch games with other USA supporters. We have started showing up at O’Daly’s Draft Picks on Saturday mornings to support Chelsea FC among the other EPL supporters.

Basically, we have joined the Mobile soccer community. Thank you, AFC Mobile. We look forward to bigger and better things. We intend to be with our club every step of the way. We cannot wait for the start of AFC Mobile 2018.