Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Keep Hope Alive

Photo: Chris Norris

I once read that the truest test of insanity is knowing the end result of an action may not end in a positive result and still going through with it. That always struck me as somewhat odd because, in the end, I felt this would lead to a life where nobody would commit to anything. The moment things would get tough, people would cut and run because…why not? Why continue to be let down; why dig your heels in when things get tough; why believe in something when you’ve been shown time and time and time again that the belief you hold is fool hearted, at best? But the thing I always came back to was this…loyalty.

Without looking at the reasons I just listed and having the ability to give it all the proverbial middle finger, the possibility of loyalty doesn’t even exist. So when the time came for me to make a choice as to who I was as a person and an individual, I took a good look at the hand dealt to me and realized I naturally had loyalty in spades. It’s just who I am…how I’m wired. Thus, insanity was going to be the life for me. As I watched the Greenville Triumph celebrating their 79th minute equalizer on Saturday night, however, I was once again painfully reminded of that devilish relationship between loyalty and insanity.

As Forward Madison FC fans, it’s hard to experience the emotions (or lack thereof) we all felt on Saturday night and not feel a little insane as we all came away with similar adjectives that we’ve come to know far too well this year… Gutted. Exasperated. Disappointed. Hurt. 

And who can blame us? For Christ’s sake, look at this: 

July 24FTL (H)FTL equalizes in the 100th1-1
August 18TFC2 (H)TFC2 equalizes in the 86th 2-2
August 21NTX (H)NTX equalizes in the 91st1-1
September 17TFC2 (A)TFC2 equalizes in the 88th1-1
September 25GVL (H)GVL equalizes in the 79th1-1

Doing the Math

That’s 10 points FMFC has lost the final 10 or so minutes of five games. 10!! Let’s hypothesize: say FMFC finishes the job in those games and gets those 10 points. We’d have 39 points and would be in 2nd place with games in hand to the Sad Wolves. Instead, we sit in 8th place with 29 points and are fighting for a playoff spot. When presented with just that evidence, that gives one more than enough reason to feel the vast array of emotions many of us have felt throughout the course of this season and question the sanity of continuing to show up at Breese Stevens Field or watch parties time after time.

Some Perspective

Here’s the thing…following the Greenville game’s crushing end, I found myself up on the capo stand in The Flock End, waving one of our beautiful 10×10 flags against a brilliant Madison summer evening tableau and it hit me…pretty soon, the icy fingers of winter will have us in their grasp, leaving us longing for these beautiful, warm nights amidst frozen times that will often feel and seem bereft of hope. The faces and friends that become more like family during these summer months will soon retreat back to their abodes, shielding themselves from southern Wisconsin’s harsh winters of snow and ice. The community that fills the stadium, the city, the players, and all the rest will be put on pause…silenced amongst the frigid climes.

A year ago we didn’t even have the choice as we were trekking to Wauwatosa to watch games on a field that had so many lines for various sports, it would make you dizzy (I swear, they even had it lined for Quidditch). We couldn’t bring flags, drums, horns, anything. Hell, we couldn’t even cheer (well…unless you count, “SIR!”). Thanks to ‘Rona, it was about as sterile a soccer environment that you could have. But then, this year, we got it ALL back. The drums, the crowds, the cheers, the flags, the horns, the energy, the passion…THE FLOCK. We got the chance to be together again. To cheer together again. To cheer for our club…our city again. To LIVE together once again.

And that’s when that dangerous little word hit me: hope

I began to realize that we still have seven games ahead of us. 21 possible points. No matter where you are in the season, that’s a ton. Seven games, 21 possible points, and table that’s more crowded than the Beltline at rush hour during construction season (i.e. – whenever it’s not winter). Seven games to push this club forward and into the playoffs. Knowing how intrinsic defense is to a championship run, there’s seven games to show off one of the best back lines and some of the best midfield players in USL1 and, hopefully, find our scoring touch at a paramount time. Seven more games to be together. Seven more games to cheer for our boys together. Seven more games to still be the best damn fans and atmosphere in our league…together. Seven more games to show this city, this club, the doubters, and even ourselves what loyalty is all about and how powerful and beautiful that devotion can truly be when harnessed by the right people. Because in the course of all of this, I had another revelation that struck me like a thunderbolt in the night:

Hope is what provides the energy in the stands. Hope is what provides the energy on the field. Hope is what fuels the drums. Hope is what fuels the cheers. Hope is what fuels the dreams of players and fans alike. Hope is what makes you look at every single crushing late goal or missed opportunity and say, “Fuck it. We’re still gonna win it all.”

Because without hope, there is no loyalty. 

Insane? Yeah…maybe. But, I’ve been a Bucks fan for as long as I can remember. There certainly were some moments of insanity loving them as ardently as many of us do and look how that turned out this June. Besides, as the great Andy Dufresne said, “Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever truly dies.” 

Get busy living or get busy dying…that’s goddamn right. 

See y’all at Robinia on Friday.

Forever Forward and Up The ‘Gos.


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