by MATT COX
Since the start of the Modern Era for the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the season’s slate of home games, today included, has ended nine times. The 2012 season’s end was undoubtedly the best, watching the club hoist a championship trophy and add that second star, but there have been plenty of lows too. This season looks to be trending more in that direction that the first one, but I hope you take a moment – a couple moments really – to soak it all in tonight. The smells from the tailgate, the view from the tunnel when you come out into the stadium bowl and see the greenest damn grass you’ve ever seen, with boats bobbing up and down just beyond the fence.
Remember the sound of the PA announcer (today’s going to be a special day for him too, or so I’ve heard), the sound of the Mob shouting WHO ARE YA at the other team, the sound of Marissa Peddie nailing the National Anthem again, and all of the game sounds too.
Remember the other things you sense too – the way the kids in the mascot tunnel swing to look at the Mob when they beat the drum and yell OH! during that anthem. The sight and smell of the smoke bombs and tifo, the colors in the sky as the sun sets shortly after kickoff.
It’s going to be months – months that are somehow very busy but incredible slow at the same time. There’s a lot of change at the end of any season, let alone one with the big shift this club is about to experience. Remember the wins, the losses, the late gut-wrenching draws – the away days, the watch parties. Remember the names and faces, on the field and off. There will be new ones to learn next year, and familiar ones to miss, in all likelihood.
When the whistle blows, remember Bill Edwards. Yeah, we never lifted a trophy in his time here, we didn’t win as much as we could or thought we should, and we certainly didn’t always agree with everything he said or did – but I’d not trade any of the last 5 years for the other option: Not having a club that lifted us up, that left us in the dirt, that made us laugh, cheer, bitch and moan.
Remember it deep inside, in that place where you remember things that you don’t always want to but know that you need to. Finally, remember it because no matter how poorly a season goes, you still don’t want it to end, and nothing is ever gone, ever done, ever over as long as someone remembers it.
Season 10 starts in a week & I can’t wait!