The United Knights, formed primarily of the Bosnian supporters, Henry Shaw Collective, mostly south city residents who met at the Amsterdam Tavern, Eads Brigade, supporters focused on top flight soccer, Day Pints, a group that got together for day drinking and watching soccer, Laclede’s Army, the supporters group for St. Louis Athletica, the women’s team, River City Saints, who were supporting the St. Louis Lions, and The Chickenheads, a name given to a group of friends due to Brad DeMunbrun turning up with a silly rooster hat.
This conglomeration of local soccer fan groups occupied Soccer Park’s Section 20 when AC St. Louis began their first and only season in April 2010. While the groups sat together and joined in on some common chants, there was little cohesiveness during the first game. At the second game, all the groups were together during the pregame tailgate, sharing beers, stories, and kicking around the ball. There seemed to be more cooperation during this game, and Brad’s silly Chickenhead hat was becoming a humorous focus of unifying the groups; it was easy to tell people “we’re near the guy in the Chickenhead hat”.
It eventually became clear that AC St Louis was not going to be back for another season, but everyone wanted more. The members of Section 20 were still tailgating together, joining together during the game, and even post-gaming together. Around this time, a lot of discussions were going on about unification under one banner. Brad came up with the name “Saint Louligans”, and everyone was immediately behind it.
Shirts were soon made; Kyle Scarborough, of the River City Saints and a local tattoo artist, had the logo artistically interpreted as a tattoo on his calf. The group was a hit; the group’s green shirts sold quickly and showed unification in the corner. The unified group brought in new people to the games, and many of the men’s team fans started going to the St. Louis Athletica games until they folded.
Following the folding of AC St. Louis and St. Louis Athletica, there was no longer a professional team to support, but the St. Louis Lions, a USL-PDL franchise located in St. Charles, welcomed the Louligans. The PDL (Premier Development League) is the top amateur league in the US and is considered the fourth division of US soccer (MLS, NASL, USL) and equal in status to the NPSL.
The Louligans picked up where they left off, establishing an immediate presence in the stands and with the players. Fourth division teams don’t have the budgets of larger clubs, so the mindset became more grassroots than before. The first Louligan scarf was sold at this time, the first episode of the podcast “This is Silly with the Louligans” was recorded, and the CafePress online store was opened. The impact of the Louligans was felt immediately; Lions officials were approached at the USL National Meetings in the offseason by other teams, inquiring how to establish a relationship with your supporters like the Louligans. Their reputation had spread outside the Lions’ division by their competition. Opposing players knew the Louligans, understood the banter was fun in the spirit of the game and often remarked: “we wish we had fans like you”.
The Louligans also started supporting an indoor team: the Illinois Piasa of the PASL. The Piasa were run by a Louligan, Matt Williams, all the Louligans were encouraged to bring a different brand of silliness to the indoor games. Piasa’s opposition is often aware of the Louligan corner at Piasa games; the pounding on the glass and volume carrying in an indoor setting brings an energetic support to the Piasa players.
In late March 2013, the St. Louis Cardinals announced at a press conference that Manchester City would play Chelsea at Busch Stadium on May 23. A contingent of Louligans was in attendance at the press conference and recognized by some in attendance as part of the St. Louis soccer infrastructure. The Louligans were introduced to many St. Louis soccer luminaries; one of the most exciting introductions was to the owner of the newest team in the St. Louis area.
Fire and Ice SC is a women’s team in the WPSL. F&I is composed of amateur players, with similar restrictions to the Lions in the USL-PDL. Their first season was 2013, and the ownership and coaches were enthusiastic about the Louligans bringing a supporter’s culture to the stands. The leadership of F&I has taken a very modern approach in working with the Louligans and have shown their appreciation on and off the pitch. The players even made direct efforts to help the Louligans recruit for attendance; a unique relationship reflecting the strength of cooperation with a supporter’s group.
FC Bordo, led by Sonny Zigic was the next St Louis team to embrace the St. Louligans. Their first season in 2014 was a big success as the team finished above 500 for the season including friendly victories over local rivals. FC Bordo plays in the NPSL league, a semi-professional league where the players play for fun and to show themselves in the shop window.
St. Louligans enthusiastically ask you to join and get to know them. It may take some time for you to remember people's names, but you will have fun.
Find us on Facebook, and Twitter @stlouligans and listen to our podcast which can be found on iTunes and www.stlouligans.com
As Paul Zarky of AC Porta Via stated, “Where there’s something important in St. Louis soccer, the Louligans will be there.”
A special thank you to Bradley DeMunbrun, Matthew Bird, and Mitch Morice, a trio of St. Louligans who were kind enough to provide this history of the group.
The Louligan Ladies were founded in August 2014 to appeal to the women members of the St. Louligans, and to help encourage more women to join the group. Knowing that some women may be nervous about joining the St. Louligans, the Louligan Ladies were created as a way to bridge the gap. The Louligan Ladies are welcoming to all women, whether you're a lifelong fan of the beautiful game or a relative newcomer to soccer. For more information on the Louligan Ladies, check out the Louligan Ladies' page on the St. Louligans' website, and join their Facebook group.