Road Trips Can Bring the Best out of Supporters Groups

Texian Army and KC Cauldron ScarvesA road trip to see your team is always something special. Normally the big Texian Army road trip is to Frisco, but since the league inexplicably chose to keep the Dynamo in the Eastern Conference, that meant only playing FC Dallas in Houston this season. Kansas City is the next closest team, so away we went.

Dallas roadtrips are a five-hour bus ride and thus an easy sell, but a trip to Kansas City at twelve hours means staying the night, so it is much harder to get a bus. So Texian Army members either flew in or drove. We had about fifty people going to the game, and this was my first trip to Kansas City, so I was excited about the trip. We had a two car “caravan,” and so we left early the morning of Friday, July 6.

With about 90 miles left to go, the transmission in my wife’s 2008 Nissan Rogue went out, stranding four riders near a small town called Melvern in the middle of nowhere. The nearest dealership was fifty miles away. It was over a hundred degrees. We had the makings of a disaster.

Then things started coming together to make sure that it wasn’t all for nothing. The tow truck driver, who may as well have been Uncle Jessie from the Dukes of Hazzard, gave me a break on the towing cost and even gave myself and another rider a lift to the nearest “big” town of Ottawa. On the ride, I got to hear all about his family and the cutthroat nature of the towing business.

In Ottawa, we waited for some Texian Army members that had already gotten to Kansas City to come and give two of us a ride while the others crammed into the other vehicle in our caravan. We got to Kansas City later than we wanted, but we got there.

The region has been experiencing extreme heat conditions lately, so one of our Texian Army leaders contacted someone he knew from the Kansas City Cauldron about our groups tailgating together. They knew each other from their dealings with the Independent Supporters Council (ISC). The Cauldron had tents and other things that we couldn’t get up to Kansas City, so we were thankful to not have to tailgate without shade in 100 degree temperatures.

My first experience with tailgating with supporters from another team was with FC Dallas fans in 2006. That was such a disaster that the Texian Army had actively refused to do it again with other groups. Time heals many wounds though, and those of us in Texian Army leadership decided to try it out with non-Frisco fans this year. We have had small groups from Chicago and DC United stop by our tailgate in Houston without issue, so I felt like we would be fine in Kansas City.

The Cauldron was very welcoming. We got a few uneasy looks, but after we started chatting with them, they could see that we were just there to cheer on our team and not be involved in any shenanigans. Boulevard Wheat is a pretty good beer, and I had never had pudding with alcohol in it!  Inside the stadium, we weren’t bothered by any of the surrounding fans, and the Dynamo made post game comments thanking us for making it out to the game.

The game between the Dynamo and Sporting was a scoreless draw, but the fan interaction was a blast. After the game, we had been invited to Sporting KC’s in-stadium bar after the game, where the party began once again. There’s an awesome wall of hanging scarves from all kinds of different soccer clubs and supporters groups, and we hung up our newest designed Texian Army scarf to go along with our older model that was already on the wall.

The repair work on our car would take at least a week to get the parts in, so the four of us that were stranded were able to find rides back to Houston with other Texian Army members and Dynamo fans that had made the trip. We are so thankful to all the Dynamo fans that helped us get around in Kansas City and to the ones that got us home.

Throughout the entire trip, we used an app called GroupMe to chat and crack jokes with other Dynamo fans that were driving up. It worked really well at keeping people informed on where everyone was and for planning where to meet up for barbecue and bar hopping.  I highly recommend it for road trips.

Because of a quirk in the MLS schedule, Sporting KC played at Houston soon thereafter on Wednesday, July 18. The game was on a Wednesday, which normally means a BYOB tailgate for the Texian Army (or as we refer to it, our “TAilgate”).  The Cauldron had treated us so well that we worked to have the people there early enough to have a full TAilgate so we could show them the same hospitality that they showed us. There was lots of blue and orange in Lot C that day, and even though the Dynamo sent home the KC fans with a 2-1 loss, I think KC fans still had a good time before and after the game.

By this time my wife’s car was finally finished (under warranty!!!), so I had to figure out a way to get it back to Houston. I ended up catching a ride back to Kansas with three Cauldron members that I had chatted with briefly in KC and more in Houston. I have family that I wouldn’t want to take a two hour car ride with, much less twelve hours, and here we had three complete strangers willing to help out a fellow soccer fan.

So after the Cauldron took a tour of BBVA Compass Stadium the next morning, I was sitting in a small SUV riding back to Kansas with people I had only just met. The ride was great. We hadn’t even left Houston before the inevitable Texas Barbecue vs Kansas City Barbecue argument came up, and we talked a lot about our two supporters groups and the league. I was fascinated with how their group was run and their interaction with their team’s ownership. I have always felt that the Dynamo front office does a good job for the most part with us, but wow. I got plenty of good ideas on ways to improve Texian Army and Walker End Houston. I also learned to never, ever, ever call it “Sporting Kansas” or to refer to the team as just Kansas.

Our car was in Lawrence, so the KC guys found a Cauldron member that lived there that could get me to the dealership in the morning. I didn’t meet him until I got to his house! A long solo drive home later (thank you SiriusXM radio), and I was home with my wife’s car.

Two weeks, 3000 miles, four points, new friends, and a lifetime of memories.  These past two weeks really showed me the best side of being in a supporters group.  All of the people I met from Kansas City knew I was an opposing fan.  That didn’t matter when they saw that there was a person in need that they could help.  I can’t wait to make it out to Kansas City again, although I will probably fly next time!

About James Hromadka

James has been a Houston Dynamo fan since its inception. He is heavily involved in the Texian Army supporters group and loves all things sports in Houston. Follow him on Twitter @nobius.