[Originally posted on the now-defunct “Aztexan” blog.]
Note to the reader: I’ve tried to keep things family-friendly since I started here in January, 2008. That policy, like the team itself, has departed. If you don’t want to read any obscenities or petty bitterness from a jilted former Aztex fan, stop reading and unsubscribe now. This post is the first spark I’m putting to this blog. Over the next few days, I’m going to burn the fucking thing to the ground.
Dear Phil and Kay,
There’s a saying that it’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all. Perhaps there’s some wisdom there, though it’s harder to see it when you’re still lying on the floor after being dumped.
I readily acknowledge that I had a lot of good times, and met a lot of good folks, thanks to the soccer team you brought here. And I knew I was lucky to have all of that at the time; I know I’ve thanked you for it more than once.
But it wasn’t all for my benefit. I gave, too. I gave a lot. Even leaving aside this blog, even as “just” a supporter, I felt invested in this club, the same way all the supporters did. We believed in it. We told everyone we could about it. We talked it up, and we also talked down the shortcomings. Yes the game’s on an astroturf high school football field, but it’s okay, the play is really good, the atmosphere is great, come with me, check it out, I’ll buy you a beer before the game, just try it.
We put your logo on our cars. We wore your shirts and jerseys all over town, looking for a flash of interest from coworkers or strangers at the store, hoping for a chance to tell them there’s a soccer team in Austin. Hey, there’s a game this weekend, you should come, it’s a blast, you’ll love it.
We huddled around laptops and wired them to TVs under the gaze of puzzled bartenders, trying to watch a shitty, buffering video feed from halfway across the country. No, sorry, Barcelona’s on that TV over there, this is our hometown team, they’re in Montreal, no we don’t know why they keep showing that fucking train.
In doing all those things, we were investing. We were paying in, we were contributing in some way. They weren’t big things, but they’re how — well, we thought they were how — a soccer city would be built. A fan at a time. A thrilling last-minute goal. A ball kid. A playoff game. A scarf. We wanted to build the soccer city, just like you wanted to build the soccer city. We thought we were building it with you. We thought it would be your soccer city, and we thought it would be ours, too.
We knew it wouldn’t happen right away, and we knew it wouldn’t be perfect for a while. We wanted to buy beer at games just as badly as you wanted to sell it to us. We hated those goddamned gridiron lines just as much as you did. But we put up with what we had now. We did more than that, we loved it. And that was part of our investment, too.
Like with all investments, we hoped they would pay off someday. We hoped we’d see our boys go on to bigger teams, like Eddie did. I saw him, we could say. I saw him play at House Park, 12th and Lamar, year before last. By the way, there’s another game next Saturday, you should come, you never know which player will be big, we have this amazing rookie this year, he’s on fire, check it out.
But our investment, it’s gone now. We put in, and like I said, we had a lot of fun doing it. But that part where we thought we were building something, where we’d have a return on that investment someday, something for our city, for our friends, for our kids, for the sport we love, that part is gone.
No, it’s worse than gone. It’s a debt, now. Where before we had pride in the team and talked it up, now it’s an embarrassment, a shame. We’re suckers now, chumps. All the people who heard our pitch for the team and thought, either openly or themselves, “whatever, soccer’s stupid, nobody likes soccer, that will never last,” — god I hate those people — they were right. They were right! You made those hateful, ignorant bastards right!
Maybe the support we gave wasn’t enough. Maybe it was puny, laughable. I’ll admit it, our ranks were pretty thin sometimes. Maybe it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the support you thought you’d get, or needed to get, or thought you needed to get, or whatever. I can’t speak to what didn’t happen, and I can’t speak for the people who didn’t show up at games.
I can only speak for myself, and this theft of my investment is what makes me mad. It might have been easier to swallow if you’d handled the whole thing with a little more grace, if you’d shown some respect for what we’ve given. It still would have sucked, it still would have sucked really bad, and we would still lose that investment, but maybe some respect wouldn’t have left the city’s and the fan’s reputations in smoldering ruins.
Anyway. Let’s cut to the chase: here’s what I hope for your future endeavors.
I hope Orlando The City Beautiful City Soccer City Club SC or whatever the fuck it’s called is an unmitigated disaster, on and off the field.
I don’t hold any enmity for coach Heath or the players, but they play for the wrong team now, in my book. Players get traded to hated rivals all the time, and fans don’t start loving that club, they hate them all the more. True, it’s usually one, maybe two players, not the entire damn squad, and yes, it’s usually to an existing club instead of a team that barely exists, but the point remains. Trade up to a real team, boys, that’s all I can say. I hope Orlando’s record over the first 30 games is 0-30-0.
I hope the whole Mickey Mouse league sucks, and your attendance sucks, and Donner skips town with half the money to start a new club in Idaho, and the other investors drop out, and that a giant sinkhole swallows whatever football stadium you’re trying to drag those poor Floridians into. I hope you burn every last cent of money from any sucker you can find, yours first, and that your ridiculous, quixotic quest for an MLS franchise in that godforsaken hellhole is as fruitless as trying to get a waitress’ attention at The Tavern.
Second note to the reader: Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Stay tuned (or don’t, that’s fine by me) for Letter #2, To: Orlando.