Mirror, Mirror

Sunday, May 12th, 2013 – Detroit City FC 5, FC Sparta 1

invasionofberkley

I’m a big fan of Star Trek. I’ve always been fascinated by its themes of space exploration, the search for intelligent life, and its vision of life in the future. I’m more of a The Next Generation guy, but I appreciate The Original Series and its massive contribution to popular culture. Even if you’re not a Trekkie, you’re probably familiar with the “Goateed Opposite Self from a Parallel Universe” concept.

EVIL
GOOD

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This comes from an episode in which members of the Enterprise become switched with their evil selves from the Mirror Universe via transporter mishap. Now that I’ve sufficiently bored you I will cut to the chase: I believe FC Sparta Michigan (I think that was their final official name) is Detroit City FC’s polar opposite from a parallel universe.

I’ll discuss my theory in greater detail later, but first I’m going to attempt to recap the brief and bizarre history of the club formerly known colloquially as “The Disease.” My purpose in doing so is to preserve the hilarious ineptitude of this organization for all time. Since Sparta’s web presence and visibility was only slightly higher than Silk Road, I will be basing this section off of memory and pieced-together fragments of social media.

I normally try not to disparage other peoples’ work – I’m far from perfect and I’m sure some would find what I do amateurish and low-rate. I make an exception, however, when it is obvious that the people responsible for a product just don’t give a damn about what they’re doing.

Let this serve as a warning to echo throughout the ages: If you are going to start a 4th division soccer team, try to at least put a little effort into it. If you don’t, people will make fun of you on the Internet.

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CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS

Mid-October 2012

A new NPSL expansion club, Michigan FC Spartans, is announced. The club is an outgrowth of Windsor FC Spartans (aka FC Windsor Spartans), and will play in Berkley, a northern suburb of Detroit.

The club is immediately derided by some supporters of Detroit City FC who see this as an attempt to capitalize on their own club’s success and siphon off part of their fanbase.

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Late 2012-January 2013

Michigan FC Spartans changes its name to FC Sparta Michigan and releases its official crest, featuring a Corinthian helmet with the skyline of Detroit as its backdrop. Some Detroit City supporters find this ironic as FC Sparta does not actually play in the city of Detroit.

fcsparta

Around this time, FC Sparta launches its official Facebook and Twitter accounts. A second official Twitter account is created later and over the course of the next five months, exactly SIX total tweets are sent out.

twitter1twitter2

The official club website is also launched at this time, and it truly deserves a section all its own. The original site no longer exists, but I was able to find a screenshot:

Note the "congradulations"
Note the “congradulations”

Although this is the only shot I was able to track down, it gives a good feel for the general layout and quality of the site as a whole: Web 1.0 (Angelfire/Geocities) format, light text on a black background, misspelled words, terrible grammar, random capitalization and font changes – the list goes on.

[Update 3/30/14: It’s almost two months late, but I just found another shot that I need to include]
No caption necessary
No caption necessary

The site’s content was what made it truly special, though. Some highlights:

  • A rambling statement (in the form of a long block of text with no paragraph breaks) about the club’s philosophy of “Player Development,” said to be based on the Brazilian youth system
  • A page for the team’s bodybuilder strength and conditioning coach, complete with one of his competition photos
  • For a team yet to play a game, not one, not two, but THREE empty pages dedicated to “Accomplishments”

Early 2013

FC Sparta holds a series of player “try outs.” Among those left standing is one Gabriel Poulino, the subject of an AND1-style mixtape entitled: The next Ronaldo: You decide

February 2013

The 2013 NPSL Season Schedule is released. FC Sparta’s first home game is against Detroit City FC.

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“They have way more fans than us. They’re intense. But this is between FC Sparta and Detroit City. We’re going to go and show them what we’ve got. It won’t be a boxing match.”

– FC Sparta Head Coach Eric Kallis

In a previous post, I mentioned that I’ve missed three City home games over the first two seasons. I should have said four because that’s exactly what the “Invasion of Berkley” was: a home game.

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Although unable to attend the game, I’ve heard enough first-hand accounts to get a good idea of what it was like. Among the words used in description: surreal…crazy…ridiculous.

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In addition to the local police on patrol watching their every move, everyone entering the stadium was subject to a frisking and/or bag search. We may never know the purpose of the pat-downs (there may have been actual security concerns or they may have been done purely out of spite), but we do know that they were done poorly because a prohibited and potentially dangerous substance made it into the stands undetected:

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Any worries that Sparta would field a competent team were dispelled in the subsequent 5-1 thumping. With more than a dozen returning players from 2012, and newcomers such as Kevin Taylor and Zach Myers (who scored twice), City was able to get off to a running start and give new head coach Ben Pirmann a win in his first game.

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In every moment of Sparta’s existence, it seemed as though they were trying to do the exact opposite of Detroit City:

  • DCFC chose a simple yet perfect name and stuck with it from day one. Sparta only officially changed names once but were always associated with their Canadian counterparts, so much so that their coach didn’t even bother to wear a jacket with his team’s actual name on it.
    Don't bother going to windsorspartansfc.com - it doesn't exist.
    Don’t bother going to windsorspartansfc.com – it doesn’t exist.
  • DCFC incorporated an iconic city symbol into their crest. Sparta chose to use the image of the RenCen, which, while also iconic, was located 17 miles away from their home field.
  • DCFC teamed up with local independent businesses as sponsors, launched a professional website, and used regular social media updates to spread news about the club. Sparta’s website evoked memories of a time when e-mail was cutting-edge and AOL was America’s hottest company. They also treated social media updates the way a survivor of a zombie apocalypse would treat rounds of ammo – only a few left, save ‘em for when you need ‘em.
  • DCFC immediately attracted multiple supporters’ groups and overall attendance has steadily grown. Sparta’s first home crowd numbered in the tens and never got much larger than that.
  • DCFC’s owners were passionate and committed to their project from the beginning. With everything that went on at Sparta, it was clear that the people in charge were only mildly interested at best.

While these things may not scientifically prove that FC Sparta is from a parallel universe, I think they provide very compelling evidence. If you still doubt my theory, consider this:

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Eric Kallis has a goatee.

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EPLIOGUE

As of today, all that remains of FC Sparta is this teaser on their official website:

lol

As a final testament to their astounding incompetence as an organization, they are promising a new site for a team that no longer exists.

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2 thoughts on “Mirror, Mirror”

  1. I took my two daughters to the “Mother’s Day Freeze Out”. Coldest soccer match I remember attending (and I have been to some real cold ones). The pat-down of all of us football hooligans was totally bizarre. It was an awesome day. CTID.

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