2019, A Year Of Legend
The year that went from “we don’t officially have a soccer team” to “there are 38,000 deposits for a 20,000 seat stadium holy cow” real quick
A year that began with no formal team closes out as a year with a stadium under construction, a world class sporting director and manager, a band to call our own, and more than twenty events the grackle was proudly represented at. Let’s hit some of the highlights, shall we?
We begin our look back at in January, really for two reasons. First and foremost, because it’s the first month of the year, so it’s a logical place to start. Secondly, it’s because on a cold, windy afternoon at Rustic Tap, Don Garber said the words we had long waited to hear: Austin would be home to Major League Soccer’s 27th franchise.
Local and national dignitaries joined Austin soccer supporters for the joyous occasion, which ended many hours after it started — for many of us in the Northshore Torchy’s, to the bewilderment of the mild mannered taco seekers of the day.
Austin FC was immediately declared the most hated team in MLS by click-hungry national writers, to which we largely shrugged our shoulders, much to the disappointment of the angry pitchfork-wielding hordes. Actually, we didn’t shrug our shoulders, we rolled up our sleeves and hosted an emergency food drive at a US Men’s National Team friendly watch party at Haymaker. This one was in support of the Central Texas Food Bank, which reached crisis levels during the government shutdown. Thanks to our members, we dropped off 1,138 lbs of food at the food bank early the following week.
March brought our most ambitious event yet, the Celebration of the Beautiful Game during the SXSW conference. We welcomed soccer fans from all over the world to Rustic Tap bright and early for Premier League soccer, which gave way to some early afternoon MLS action. Thanks to our sponsors, we were able to host some great musicians, a Classic Football Shirts pop-up, drink specials, plus breakfast and lunch tacos.
May sent us on a pair of road trips, and we welcomed the first chapter of Anthem Worldwide by formally launching the New Braunfels chapter. It was, of course, perfectly timed during the DfB Pokal Final, and hosted by the wonderful Guadalupe Brewing Company. Anthem Away took on Houston for the Texas derby in a sweltering day in the bayou.
June was what we in the soccer supporting business would call a big deal. We formally turned our hopes and dreams into ticket deposits for our spots at McKalla Place. Austin Anthem members got a head start on the whole deal, with a one hour window during which we were able to purchase tickets in the Supporters Section before the general public. Good thing too, because immediately upon general availability, the website crashed, overwhelmed by the THIRTY THOUSAND deposits placed in the first day. Which, we’ve been told, is a large number.
June and July also brought the audacious summer heat, and with it, the audacious fourth star for the US Women’s National Team, as they steamrolled their way to the 2019 Women’s World Cup title. Huge crowds packed Easy Tiger’s two locations during the tournament for the Lady Birds’ watch parties, culminating in a (possibly over) capacity crowd at the Linc on Championship Sunday. July closed with a big announcement — Josh Wolff’s appointment to be our club’s first manager, headlined by a meet and greet at Buford’s on West 6th
August saw Anthem members joined by the Austin Goldstars at the Austin PRIDE parade through downtown Austin. The Murga filled the August night with a truly joyous sound, as Congress Ave got its formal introduction to the melody of football. Later in August, we joined the Independent Supporters Council, which we believe will echo our local commitment to inclusivity at a national level. We also met up with the Dallas Beer Guardians in Frisco for the other Anthem Away trip of the year.
Shortly after the August parade, September saw the formal start of construction at McKalla, as Matthew McConaughey picked up a shovel alongside the Austin bigwigs and declared the stadium groundbroken. An evening party followed, and Austin Beerworks provided a perfect end of a big day. The Artists Formerly Known as Murga also got a formal introduction under their new K-Pop band name — Zanate Musical Collective. Weekly practices commenced at Mueller Lake Park and the Browning Hangar as we grew the songbook to a pretty impressive collection of song and chants.
Family was the name of the game in October, for our first ever Fall Festival at Mueller’s Northwest Greenway, which saw face painting, pumpkin painting, and a ZMC-based soundtrack to a lovely fall day. We said adieu to the scarves (at least as part of a package, they’re still available on the store) and unveiled our 2020 membership package featuring a giant zanate flag at the kit level as the month drew to a close. Both those cornerstones (the new zanate flag and the Zanate Musical Collective) were headliners at Austin’s Dia de los Muertos parade that closed out a busy weekend for soccer in the Capital City.
November added chapter number two to our ranks, with the introduction of the Longhorn Chapter to connect our support of Austin FC with University of Texas at Austin students. Something called MLS Cup also took place, but some team with a weird shade of green took home the trophy.
And finally, we closed out the year in December with two huge milestones, the Takoba welcoming of Austin FC’s Sporting Director, Claudio Reyna, and our big holiday party at Haymaker. Our party resulted in more than a hundred toys being donated by members and guests to Toys for Tots, again thanks to our Anthem family. We also crowned our first FIFA champion, and we gave Austin’s historical home of soccer some hardware for their Manor Road (and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport) walls.
Other notable events we participated in throughout the year in support of the wider Austin soccer community:
- Soccer Assist’s annual gala
- CenTex Lobos GCPL match
- Texas Longhorn women’s soccer matches
- Austin Soccer Foundation Footgolf Tournament
- Upper Ninety’s Dare to Create event
- FC Austin Elite at Bold Stadium
And finally, Anthem members helped contribute to seven tifos that have made their way around the Austin metro, including a rainbow banner, a calaca grackle tifo, two Jeremiah the Innocent two-poles. That number will grow in 2020 as that supporters section starts to get filled in.
If that’s what we were up to without a team on the pitch, imagine how much more we’ll be doing this year as we set the stage for 2021. Don’t miss a moment — make sure you’re a member and support the beautiful game in our beautiful city.
2020 kicks off at 4th Tap for a Song & Chant Season Kickoff — be sure to join us!
Austin Anthem is the independent supporters group for Austin FC, the Major League Soccer club of Austin, Texas.
For more information, visit us online at AustinAnthem.org