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Talking Chicken

Sometimes when a new professional sports team starts up it can take a while for the team to find its chemistry and the fans to find their voice. Anyone who’s been to a recent AC STL game knows that a lot of the fans had no trouble finding their voice from day one. One such fan is Brad Demunbrun. You may know him as Chickenhead. I interviewed Brad to find out more about him and his passion for soccer.

Thank you for taking time to answer some questions, Chickenhead. Is it okay if I call you Chickenhead or would you rather go by your real name?

My real name is Brad.  You can call me that or Chickenhead whichever you prefer.  I don’t normally go by Chickenhead, but at Soccer Park thats what 3000 of my friends call me.

Tell us a little about yourself.  How long have you been a soccer fan? What leagues and what teams do you support?I’m just a guy.  I’ve got a group of friends that get together to play Subbuteo (if anybody remembers that game- old table soccer), play video games, and watch big soccer matches.  I really only became a big soccer fan around the 2002 World Cup.  I always liked soccer, but only saw the occasional game.  After the 2002 World Cup I found Fox Soccer Channel (or Fox Sports World is what it used to be called).  I shortly fell in love with everything about the game and pretty quickly after that became a junkie- especially when I was a stay at home dad during the 2006 World Cup- that was heaven.

I’m an Arsenal fan.  It’s not because of the undefeated season though.  I was a bit of a Punk Rock/Skater in High School and I always remember Johnny Rotten had an Arsenal hat- I claimed Arsenal before I’d ever even watched a game.  Plus I love the beautiful way they play and TH14 was my favorite player when I started watching on a regular basis.  I also support 1860 Munich in Bundesliga 2.  My wife’s father lives in Munich and when I first met him he made me promise that I would never support Bayern Munich- that was his biggest concern about the man who married his daughter.  He and his brother were both Olympic caliber athletes with the 1860 Munich Athletic Club.  I’ve only seen a couple of their matches, but I’m obligated to support them.  I do also enjoy watching MLS.  My favorite MLS player is St. Louisan Brad Davis.  His second cousin is a friend of mine so I like to watch him play.

So you are obviously a dedicated fan of soccer and now of our new team ACSTL. How proud are you to have a team here? What does it mean to you and are you a season ticket holder? I’m in love with AC STL.  It’s so great to have a team of our own.  I was pretty upset through the whole ups and downs of Jeff Cooper trying to get an MLS team.  I was afraid we’d never get a team.  I know a lot of people are disappointed we didn’t get an MLS team, but I’m actually pretty happy with NASL and how things are going.  I feel a real connection with this team and the other fans at Soccer Park.  I mean, I’ve got to shake the players hands after every game and I’ve stopped out at Soccer Park to watch practice a couple of times.  I doubt I’d have that kind of access at an MLS club.  Tickets are probably cheaper too which makes it easy for me to buy a ticket for a friend or convince someone to give it a try.  Most importantly though, this is my team.  I love Arsenal, but this feels so much closer and it really does feel like the fans in the stands make a difference.  Its great to be a part of that energy.

Yes, me and 5 of my friends ordered season tickets on the first day they were available and a couple other guys that couldn’t afford the whole season will definitely be joining us at several games.  Our tickets are actually in Section 16, but after the first game we’ve found our way down to the corner.  I think we’re Section 19 & 20 kinds of fans.
What are your thoughts about AC’s season so far? Do you think the team has done enough to promote themselves?
On the field its probably going to be rough this year.  We are an expansion team that was just assembled over the last several months.  I don’t think we can be too critical this year.  But, they have looked a lot better lately and having our first win at home was great for the fans.  Its also great that away matches have been available to watch live on the internet.  Its also really cool that The Amsterdam Tavern and the supporters groups have organized away game viewing parties.  I would love to be able to rent a bus and take a big group to an away game- the problem is how far spread out the teams are.  The closest games to go to would be Minnesota or Austin.  That’s a big road trip.

I’d like to see more promotion.  I know the team is doing little things like facebook, twitter and youtube- which are great, but I’d like to see more advertisement.  I have heard that there are some TV spots but I haven’t seen them.  I think they should really get bumper stickers or window decals out to the season ticket holders.  It would at least be cool to see the logo around the city and maybe just brand the club into the St. Louis consciousness a little bit.
What’s the general feeling you get from the fans about the team, both the Supporters Groups and those not sitting in Sec 19 & 20?
The supporters groups have been fantastic.  Even though I’m not technically a part of any group I’ve already made great friends in Day Pints, Eads Brigade, The Henry Shaw Collective, River City Saints and Laclede’s Army.  I don’t know any of the United Knights personally, but I love what they’re doing.  Really all the supporters groups are making Soccer Park a great place to spend a Saturday evening and I think AC STL is doing a lot to foster that relationship and pretty much encourages the crazy behavior.  The fans on the other side of the field are great too.  I understand not everybody wants to stand in the smoke screaming and yelling all game.  I think its cool that Soccer Park and the team accommodates both kinds of fans.  I think everybody loves the atmosphere over in the supporter’s corner even if they don’t want to be in the middle of it.
We all noticed at the last home gave against Baltimore that you had a bit of a posse with you dressed in proper attire. Who are these guys and what can we expect in games to come from this motley crew of your’s?
The original posse is the 6 of us.  Mitch “the Sheik” Morice, Matt “Bishop” Brown,  Casey Blick, Darren Koffman, Jeff Drake and yours truly.  The Chickenhead was just a lark.  I was on my way to meet up with the guys for the first game and I saw the Chickenhead mask in the basement with some of my kids dress up stuff and I thought that would be fun to wear.  In Europe people do all kinds of crazy stuff at the games and we wanted to make it a party at Soccer Park.  It was just kind of a random act that turned out to be kinda fun.  After the first game the other guys started talking about wearing crazy hats too.  I don’t know what will happen in the future.  The guys might continue to wear hats, the other guys might dress up.  I don’t know- we just want to have a good time.  I saw a guy who I don’t even know wearing a Panda hat at the Palace game- that was pretty funny.  Anybody can join the party, with or without a hat- just have fun.  We’ll be in section 19 if anybody wants to sit with us and the other supporters group in the corner.  And no, we don’t have a name.  We were just gonna hang out this season and pick a group to join- but we’ve met so many great people that we don’t want to pick just one group and we don’t want to alienate anybody so we’re just guys that like to have fun.
It looks like you are starting to get some attention now, not only from the Sec 19 & 20 fans but also a little Press. Share what thoughts you have about this.
Its kinda crazy.  I’ve been interviewed 3 times and been approached by a couple other outlets.  I think its just that people haven’t seen Soccer fans live and in person.  It seems crazy to an outsider, but soccer fans know what it’s about.   To sections 19 and 20 I’m just one of the guys and I happen to be wearing a Chicken hat.  That just makes it easy to cheer something.  There are dozens of other crazy fans that could be the focus of the attention.  Its really not about me, its just a way for the fans to support the team and show their passion for the game.  I think its just general enthusiasm for Soccer being in St. Louis.  I know I’ve joined all the groups on facebook and read all the articles on the Fanatic.  We’re all just stoked to have a team and everything that goes with it.

As far as the interviews go, I’ve had one good experience and one that the article ended up focused on the wrong thing.  I don’t want to go into it, but thats just what happens.  I hope these interviews encourage people to come out to the park and give Pro Soccer a shot.  Even people that aren’t traditional sports people can get into this.   $12 is a bargain for the entertainment you get at a soccer game.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Me and my friends are just really happy to have a team of our own.  We hope everybody out there gives it a try.  You don’t have to join a supporters group (though it would be great if they all keep growing), just come out to a couple games.  And if you’re already into it, bring a friend.  The club always has different promotions to make it affordable.  Go through all your friends and just pick the people that like to have a good time.  We just need to keep converting fans and try to fill the park.  It would be amazing if we could get 6000 fans at every home game.

Also, I’m making a promise to go to some more Athletica games this year too.  We’ve got a great Women’s team that needs our support too.  Laclede’s Army is doing a great job, but more people is always better.  Between the two teams we could have soccer almost every weekend this summer and fall.  The Athletica has some of the best players in the world and they put on a good show.
Make sure everybody goes to http://www.facebook.com/ACSTLchickenhead and clicks “like”.  I try to update it daily with anything AC STL or Athletica related.  You can usually find out about games and special deals for the games.  Also become fans of the teams and all the supporters groups- even if you’re not a member its good for info.  And, of course, become a fan of AC St. Louis Fanatic.
Thanks so much for taking time to answer these questions. We look forward to seeing you at every home game!
Thank you, Steve.  I’m glad I’ve gotten to meet you and so many of my facebook friends at the games.  I hope we get a lot more fans and I hope I get to meet all of them.  Make sure you come up and say Hi.

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3 Responses

  1. Thanks Steve. I’m really happy you managed to go the whole article without mentioning how VULGAR my nickname is. 🙂

  2. well done

  3. Great interview, guys….long live the Chickenhead !!!

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