Southwest Scotland. More specifically, Kilmarnock, southwest Scotland. Plenty of rain, lots of wind and a little sunshine thrown in on a rare occasion.
At first glance you’d have to say it probably doesn’t have that much in common with Sacramento. As it happens, Kilmarnock is where I have spent my whole life, and to find common ground with California’s capital, you only have to look as far as their respective football teams. Both have passionate fans, hopelessly in love with their team, both have a real place in the center of their community, and both are enjoying a rich vein of form of late.
Something that does separate them though is their history on this planet. January 2019 will see Kilmarnock FC turn 150 years old, proudly retaining the title of oldest professional team in Scotland. On the other end of the scale, Sacramento Republic FC only began play in 2014. But the accomplishments and plaudits the team have earned in just four short years is something some of the UK’s oldest clubs could only dream of.
Attendance records, a crazy popular fan base, a possible new state of the art stadium and of course silverware by winning the USL championship in their inaugural season. If someone this side of the Atlantic said “I’m going to start a football team, we are going to join a professional league, become one of the best attended clubs, sell out our home games, win the trophy all the teams want in our first season and within a few years we want to be part of the biggest league in the country”, then it wouldn’t take long for the media and general public to eat them alive, ridicule the life out of them and laugh them out the building.
Not in America though, and that is one of the many reasons this great club caught my eye and transformed me into a fan. With most of our European leagues wrapping up their seasons around May time, the summer without football is a dull prospect. I did mention the weather earlier, didn’t I?
So, to soften the blow of football withdrawals, last year I decided to give MLS a go, and while I enjoyed it, I also became interested in the MLS expansion talk that has seen Sacramento become a real contender for a place with the big boys of U.S. soccer. From then on, I was hooked by the honesty and hard work of the league, and the creativity, vision and dreams of the organization. The 3am rises to tune into some of the live games are actually enjoyable and when that’s something you can say without any hint of sarcasm, you know you’re onto something good.
The two loves of my life (with the obvious exception of my beautiful wife and amazing kids), Kilmarnock FC and Sacramento Republic FC may have contrasting backgrounds and differ in many ways but at the heart of them they both have a community spirit and an indomitable will to grow, improve and dream. And although I’m thousands of miles away, Republic FC have a way of making me feel part of their community too which to be honest, is pretty cool.
Kilmarnock’s motto which adorns our crest is ‘Confidemus’ meaning ‘we have confidence in’ or ‘we trust’, something Sacramento fans have shown in their team since the beginning and something that will serve them, us, well in the journey ahead.