Here is a quick look at something that went down Thursday night. Members of the Texian Army, Brickwall Firm, La Bateria and others met at Orange Bar to discuss the formation of an independent supporters union, named the Walker End (the name of the street on the south end of the stadium where the supporters will be).
Meeting with the supporters were Chris Canetti, Brian Ching and Brad Davis, who took questions from the crowd. And leading the meeting is Texian Army board member Chris Smink, who clearly articulates the Walker End vision. Those familiar with Section 8 in Chicago, the Timbers Army in Portland and others would find a lot of this very familiar.
There will be more written about this in the days to come from me and probably others. If you are a Dynamo supporter (and if you watch this video, you will know the difference between "supporter" and "fan." Neither is better than the other, but neither are they quite the same thing.), then spend the 49:51 it takes to sit down and watch this video in full.
In short, the vision of Walker End is something unique, completely unique, in the history of sports in Houston. No other team has ever had anything anywhere close to this. As a matter of fact, the only times I can ever remember a single Houston team's fans being this unified, as what Walker End is envisioning, is during the Luv Ya Blue era in the 1970s and the Astros' first NLCS, in 1980. What Smink is talking about here is creating a situation like that all the time, harnessing the energy of BBVA Compass Stadium to create something quite new. Among the intiatives are:
- Unified Tifo making/cost;
- Unified trips to road games (specifically Frisco);
- Funding charities relating to soccer in Houston; and
- Potentially sponsoring a Dynamo Academy player. (As Smink says, can you imagine the sense of pride among all of the supporters if that player actually makes it? Think about that for a second.)
I encourage all of you to check out the charter here, visit the Walker End on Twitter here, on Facebook here, e-mail the group at firstname.lastname@example.org, read Jonathan Kaplan's take on it on the Dynamo web site here, or head down to the Walker End once the stadium opens for business on May 12.
And in regards to the charity situation, check out this post from Smink on the Walker End Facebook page he posted this afternoon:
We just had an incredibly well-aligned charity opportunity present itself. Its going to require pulling a rabbit out of a hat but we just learned of a program of 59 at-risk & economically disadvantaged youths and rewards them for good behavior & completing their schoolwork with playing in a soccer tournament.
The problem is they have no jerseys and the soccer tournament, is in 6 days. Walker End is on it.
Now that is what we're talking about here.
Of course, this whole business is far from a done deal. El Batallon was not present at the meeting (what Smink referred to as the "elephant in the room."), despite repeated attempts to get them there. The comments from Captain Kamehameha and Vice Captain Brad's Brigade, as well as Canetti (sorry, no screwy nickname for the Prez), all indicate that the clear preference from the players themselves, as well as the front office, is for the supporters to be unified, completely unified, and that that unity is infectious. If the supporters are not unified, it affects the team's efforts to be unified. Personally, as far as I am concerned, if the Captain and Vice Captain order you to unify, then you unify. We as supporters are here to support the team, not pretend that we are bigger than the team. This is not the Argentine situation (where the teams have ceded control of the stadium and surrounds to what are basically criminal gangs) or the Italian Ultra models. We are here for the team, not the other way around.
The opening of BBVA Compass Stadium is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that can mean so much more than just the opening of a sports stadium. It could mean a brand new way to approach sports as American fans. Can you even imagine this fire catching to other teams in other sports? Personally, I find that hard to believe that something like that could happen, but then again, in 1978, when I was attending Houston Hurricane games in the Astrodome, I thought there would be no way there would ever be a soccer-specific stadium built in Houston. And more recently than that, in 2006, I was echoing the same line. No way. Well on May 12, I fully expect crow to never again taste so good to eat.
No matter what has happened in the past, no matter what arguments there might have been or still be, it is now time to grow up as supporters of a grown-up permanent fixture of the Houston sports scene. It's time to make history. There is one reason, and one reason only to do this, and it is this: