For those unfamiliar with hardcore Soccer/Football/Futbol “fans”, they quite often deem that word offensive. The individuals that associate with a football team refer to themselves as Supporters. In most of their eyes, a fan is an average Joe who catches the game when he can and might own a scarf from the 4th of July event at the stadium. Supporters own season tickets and show up hours before kickoff to meet up with their fellow Supporters and practice chants. Supporters live, breath, and eat the team, so much so that you can usually assume how the club played based on Supporters’ demeanor on Monday morning.
In this series I will be learning about the Supporters who live and die Las Vegas Lights. We will examine what brought them to Vegas and why they chose the Lights to devote so much of theirs lives to.
We will begin with Mike Farrell, not because he is the most die-hard fan in the world, but because he isn’t. Mike is your quintessential American; he has two grown children and is Operations Manager at a casino on the Vegas Strip. Like many Las Vegans, he is a transplant, hailing from the South Side of Chicago. He recited his favorite teams as easily as 1, 2, 3: “Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks.” Some of his favorite moments came from watching sports with his children. “Witnessing the Cubs win the 2016 World Series with my son was surreal,” he remembers fondly.
So why did this South Side born and raised, Dika-worshipping, cork bat having guy fall in love with a small-time USL Football team? “My favorite part are the friends I have made. I look forward to every Saturday, so I can see my Electric Company family”. The Electric Company Mike is referring to is an independent group of Supporters who chant, drum, and bathe themselves in the successes and failures of the Las Vegas Lights. Mike sees a Supporter as “someone who stands by their team win or lose.” His grandfather taught him that “it’s easy to be a fan with your team winning, but a true measure of a Supporter is how they react when their team loses.”
Mike has had the latter part of that experience 13 weeks into the Lights’ second season. Currently, the Lights’ record stands at four wins, six loses, and three draws, with all six of those losses being delivered while away. The Lights remain unbeaten at Cashman Field while playing USL opponents and were able to embarrass a few MLS teams during the preseason. Cashman is a soccer pitch converted from an old baseball stadium, which is not uncommon within the USL. Mike and the Electric Company reside at the back right of the net, with their drums, trumpets, and voices. With Supporter chants such as “Vamos “and “Don’t Take Me Home,” these men and women create a black hole of awareness for opposing defenses.
Mike was shocked and elated to learn that on June 5th, 2019 the Las Vegas City Council passed regulation to begin negotiations with a developer for an MLS bid. For an MLS team to thrive in downtown Las Vegas, Mike believes that Supporter group cohesion would be key, to show a united front. In a league where the majority of the Supporter groups’ membership numbers as many as 1000 diehard Supporters, Mike and the 40 Electric Company members he calls family have room to grow. He sees no problems in achieving this. “I think as the team becomes more popular, more people will come out to the games and see the party and excitement that The Electric Company brings to the game and will want to be a part of that.”
*- Full disclosure: I am member of the Electric Company, I am not writing this series as a member of the EC but as a football fan and great admirer of the passion and indomitable spirit of those that call themselves Vegas Lights Supporters. -*
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