The St. Louligans don’t mind being called “soccer fanatics.” They insist on it.
How else would you describe people who parade around the stadium, stand up for entire matches and chant, sing and beat drums for the St. Louis Football Club?
“The only time we sit down is halftime,” said Ryan Malaschak, 35, of Belleville, co-owner of Adrenaline Prints and drummer for the rockabilly band Rat Rod Kings.
Ryan is one of about 50 metro-east members of the St. Louligans. (Hundreds more live in Missouri.) They attend home matches at World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton, Mo., and gather at bars to watch away matches.
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“Soccer is different from other sports,” said Dave Corbitt, 47, of Swansea, a salesman and Rat Rod Kings bass player. “It’s common to have supporter groups.”
Dave and Ryan lead the St. Louligans drumline, which includes three bass drums, a marching snare and a quad-tenor set, all painted blue and green, the team colors. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville business student Ramon Woody, 37, of Belleville, is their roadie.
The group’s snare drum is decorated with the skull-and-crossbones logo. One bass drum is labeled PWICB (“Party with Ice Cold Beers”).
“The bass drums are tricked up a bit,” Ryan said. “They have beer koozies Velcroed on the top, and they also have bottle openers, so they’re the ultimate party drums.”
St. Louis lost its professional soccer team, the Athletic Club of St. Louis, in 2010 after only one season, but some of the St. Louligans stayed in touch. They reactivated last year, when the St. Louis Football Club was created.
The team played its most recent home match against the Charleston (S.C.) Battery on Aug. 20. About 200 St. Louligans gathered on the parking lot beforehand for tailgating.
Rock music blared from a tent. A vendor sold T-shirts, scarves and other paraphernalia. A handful of young men kicked a soccer ball.
“It’s a very social, welcoming group,” said Dave, who was smoking cigars with friends. “We have a lot of newcomers, and we usually hand them a drink and send them over to the food table. But there’s a requirement to be in the group. It’s on the back of my shirt.”
Dave turned around to reveal the words, “Show Up, Make Noise, Have Fun.”
St. Louligans take this mantra very seriously. Ryan Smith drove 40 miles in rush-hour traffic for the Battery match.
“I travel as much as I can (for soccer),” said Ryan, 35, of Wood River, a retail manager for Slackers and president of the St. Louis chapter of the American Outlaws, a supporter group for U.S. national soccer teams.
“I went up to Winnipeg for the start of the Womens World Cup this summer, and I went to Brazil last summer for the Mens World Cup.”
Claude and Michele Karraker live in Collinsville, but they make every Fenton match.
“We love it,” said Claude, 45, a Macy’s district director. “We’ve loved the sport for a long time. You grow up supporting teams in Europe, and you just wish you had a team of your own, and now we do.
“We’ve been St. Louis Blues ticket holders for 11 or 12 years, and we’ve had more fun this (soccer) season than all those seasons combined. This is more like a family. People know each other.”
The St. Louis Football Club fully embraces the St. Louligans. An hour before the Battery match, team representatives rolled a giant cooler of free beer to their tailgating party. Fifteen minutes later, general manager Jeremy Alumbaugh showed up.
“I always come here before the games,” said Jeremy, 42, of O’Fallon. “I’ve got to see my friends. They make the stadium a fun place to be. They bring it to life. I just come out here and say ‘hi’ and thank them for coming.”
A half-hour before the match, the St. Louligans lined up for their parade. Several marchers waved flags, and “capos” used bullhorns to give instructions.
“We keep everyone on the same page in terms of chants and songs and drumming,” said capo Jason McAdams, 26, of Edwardsville, an optician. “Basically, we’re like cheerleaders, but I don’t look good in a skirt.”
The group headed toward the stadium, singing “The Louligans are Here Again” to the tune of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”
“St. Louligans are here again,
We’re not your average hooligans,
We’ll drink your beer,
You’ll hear us cheer,
Everyone will quake in fear,
Oh, oh, oh, St. Louligans are here.”
The group sings other songs to the tune of “The Mickey Mouse Club” theme, “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees, “Girls” by the Beastie Boys and “We’re not Going to Take It” by Twisted Sister.
The St. Louligans have their own bleacher section in the corner of the stadium, where capos lead chants such as “Who are we? STL!” and “St. Louis ’til I die!”
“Our section is pretty PG,” said Ryan Malaschak, a father of two. “A lot of supporter groups will cuss in their chants, but we don’t do that. We’re family friendly.”
St. Louligans have even won over St. Louis County police officers, who stand watch nearby.
“These guys are awesome,” said Sgt. Craig Kriska, 48. “They’re the ones who keep the game entertaining for me. They’re good. They police themselves. On Saturday nights, there will be all these kids in other sections, but before the game’s over, they’re over here screaming and yelling with these guys.”
The sergeant’s favorite chant comes at the beginning of half time: “More beer! More beer! More beer!”
When the St. Louis Football Club scores a goal, the St. Louligans really go wild, beating drums, cheering and setting off blue and green smoke bombs.
“It’s the greatest sport on the planet,” Ryan Malaschak said. “It’s just a beautiful game, and the whole world plays it. I like the way it’s structured. Even a small team like (St. Louis) can move up to play bigger clubs in tournaments. It’s just a matter of winning.”
St. Louis Football Club home games
The St. Louligans start tailgating about two hours before home matches at World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton, Mo., and get together for away matches at the International Tap House in Soulard.
7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 — Charlotte Independence
7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 — Louisville City