Last weekend was the Cascadia Summit at Starfire in Tukwila, a tournament with the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, and Vancouver Whitecaps each playing one another. Prior to the tournament Sounders coach Sigi Schmid sounded a cautionary note:
I think we also have the responsibility — all of us teams in the Northwest — to make sure the rivalry is on the field and is what it is. We don’t want to ever overstep those areas and turn the rivalry into something that it should not be or something that we’d be embarrassed to have show up.
I’m not sure, but I think he is alluding to the specter of football violence, which was prevalent in England in the 1970s and 1980s. I can’t help wondering if somebody has slipped him a copy of Bill Buford’s excellent Among the Thugs or John King’s even better Football Factory trilogy.
It seems a little hard to imagine an outbreak of soccer hooliganism in the Pacific Northwest, unless, of course, scarves are somehow involved. But it doesn’t pay to be complacent. Melchester Rovers’ Roy Race never thought that soccer hooligans would come to Melchester, but suffered a rude awakening in the late 1970s when violence erupted in a league fixture with Rotherton. Roy’s struggles with the problem of hooliganism lasted for several issues of his eponymous comic, as reprinted in the recently published The Best of Roy of the Rovers: The 1970s.
Ahead of his time, Racy employed some rather unorthodox methods that, as he pointed out, didn’t involve “armies of policemen and fenced-off pitches.” And he offered the following sage evaluation: “Maybe my methods won’t work for other clubs and managers … but they’ll never find out until they’ve tried.” So, clearly resources are available should the ugly specter appear in Seattle and I’ll be happy to lend Sigi my copy of The Best of the 1970s, if needed. [That said, Melchester Rovers continued to struggle with crowd issues into the early 1980s and misguided fan, Trevor Brinsden, was one of the suspects in the 1981 shooting of Roy Race. But that’s a story for another time.]
In the meantime, let’s just say that “hooliganism” was the least of the Sounders’ problems over the weekend, but that’s all in the past now overshadowed by Wednesday’s 3:1 victory over 2010 MLS champions the Colorado Rapids in the Community Cup. Go Sounders!
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