This week’s North American Soccer League fans of the week weren’t even supposed to be at the Metrodome.
If Stegman’s Old Boys FC had had its way, no one in the club’s red and black striped jersey would have been at the Metrodome Saturday afternoon to watch Minnesota United FC’s 2-0 victory against FC Edmonton. For months the Minneapolis-based club had been planning the third-annual SOB Cup, a season-opening outdoor tournament and one of the club’s main fundraisers.
Dropping nearly six inches of snow on the Twin Cities metro area Thursday, Mother Nature clearly had other plans. When the City of St. Paul—operator of the turf fields near Como Park where the tournament was scheduled—refused Friday morning to clear the field, it would have been easy to call the tournament a wash. Instead, Stegman’s Old Boys turned up in force Friday after work, snow shovels in hand, to begin the monumental task of removing six inches of heavy, wet snow.
“It's been a long winter and we wanted to play," said Nick Sindt, one of the club’s founders. "We did everything we could to get the snow off the field. We started on Friday at 6 p.m. and worked until 2 a.m., and then we were back at it on Saturday morning."
By 9 p.m. Friday, the team had shoveled the touchlines, goal lines and a penalty box clear, as well as a 20-yard-wide path from goal to goal. By 2 a.m., the end was in sight despite freezing temperatures turning slush to ice underneath the top layer of snow. Dan Hoedeman, another of the club’s founding members, guessed 80 percent of the snow was gone and said he was confident the field would be clear by noon Saturday to get the tournament underway. Instead, St. Paul pulled the plug the SOBs had refused to, shutting down the club’s removal operation—and the tournament—at 11:30 a.m. Saturday with just 10 yards along one sideline still covered.
“Of course, they waited until after we had cleared almost two acres of snow,” Hoedeman said. "Although we were explicitly told that we were allowed to remove the snow, we were not allowed to use plastic shovels. After they threatened to call the cops if we weren't gone in 15 minutes, we broke down quick and and headed off to the Metrodome to watch Minnesota United.”
After a short lunch stop and a quick trip home to grab the club’s season tickets, Hoedeman, Sindt and 16 other members of the club made it to downtown Minneapolis in time to get in some tailgating before the 2:30 kickoff, using the FLEX tickets to get everyone in the door without needing to stand in line. Once the game kicked off, the party stood and cheered near the Dark Clouds behind the north goal of the Metrodome.
“We still had our shirts on from being ready to play our opening game so, like a youth team, we embraced it and mixed in chants for our own team along with chants for United," said Jon Bisswurm, another of the club’s founders. "We had a good cross-chant situation going with the Dark Clouds and made what could have been a disappointing day turn into a great team event."
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