We’re back! The season can finally begin. This Saturday we finally get to see our boys back home for the home opener of the 2018 season. I don’t know about you, but even though we’ve had two clean sheets, two goals, and six points already tallied in our first two games, it doesn’t really feel like the season has started until we can welcome the team back to Nippert. While a home opener is already a big to-do, this game has a little extra meaning as we open up against our rivals down the river.
That’s right, this Saturday at 7:00 we kick off the third season of the Dirty River Derby against Loisville City FC. I’m not a fan of hyperbole, but this could be one of the most important games we’ve played in the league. This game carries more than just 3 points on the line. It’s no secret we have a bad relationship with that team down south, but for all our first-time fans and to get the rest of us a little riled up let’s take a quick glance at what makes this game so important.
This season has been already been filled with some great accomplishments. We secured our very first win against Charleston, and we welcomed Indy XI to the USL with an away win, but that doesn’t measure up to the team we’ll see Saturday. Loisville walked away with the USL Cup at the end of the year. Yup, they are the defending champions. And it looks like they have carried some of that success into the new year as they also are 2-0 with victories against newcomers Nashville and the always tough Tampa Bay Rowdies. That in and of itself makes this game important, but while the team down the river has some changes we get to see our overhauled roster take the pitch at home.
But we all know it’s more than just the success of Loisville (I hate saying that) that makes this game our biggest game yet. This whole series has been filled with some really crazy things. For instance, after that hot game in year one, James O’Connor definitely tried to say the turf was too hot for his players, like hot enough to melt his guy’s boots. But of course a beekeeper/part-time RadioShack employee would complain about that.
Then we have last year, the year of four derbies, and the year of the bite, the cup victory, and streamers! FCC’s first home game last year we had the bite heard round the world. That was the game, which we won, but had Djiby receive a 6-match ban for a supposed bite. Well, the referees didn’t see a bite during the game or none of us could see a bite in the replays, and the USL in one release didn’t mention a bite. But sure a bite happened (it didn’t). That whole situation was a clusterf**k . Okay so Djiby gets a little heated during the game and goes head to head with McCabe. That’s pretty much a non-event in a rival like this but things take a turn after the game when none other than our favorite RadioShack employee accuses Djiby of biting McCabe. Okay, sure, the league will take a look at it and get it sorted out. Well not exactly. During the week after, the league went from having him serve a one-match ban to a six-match ban. They went from violent conduct to explicitly calling it a bite. Go ahead, pull up that game, see what actually happens. I guarantee you won’t see a bite.
Great, we’ll be out of our top goal scorer for six league games… But after our 1-0 extra time win against Cleveland in our opening game of our miraculous Open Cup run, guess who we draw. That’s right, Loisville. And guess who gets to play, that’s right Djiby. While the game itself was rather sparsely attended and the match was not the most eventful, we did pull out the 1-0 victory with the goal coming from the man himself, Djiby. If that’s not justice I don’t know what is.
Then we have our two away matches. While the first game down at the farm club was a victory on the field, it was filled with a little bit of craziness off the field. This is where the now infamous steamers began. Some of us in the traveling Bailey brought a few, harmless rolls of streamers to throw out at the beginning of the match. No harm, right? It’s not like they didn’t stick way out in left field, oh wait they did. For some reason there was quite a bit of hate following upstream on Twitter because of these streamers. So we do what we do best, and we bring in a bunch of streamers to the next game. While I don’t want to steal the thunder of Mike Madanat’s story, the gist is that we had the entire first row of our fans thrown out of Louisville Slugger Field because of these streamers.
These past two years have been filled with a lot of craziness both on the field and off between these two teams and fans. Saturday begins the third year of the Dirty River Derby; Saturday we get to see who is the more dominant team. If I was you, I’d keep my eyes on the Bailey before the game; this year’s tifo is going to be sweet.
- Peter Wietmarschen