Last weekend was the last Rowdies home game for the 2016 season. It was also the last one I’ll attend, at least while the current ownership is in place.
Carolyn and I have been Rowdies fans since 2011, and season ticket holders since 2012. Last year, after the atrocious way Edwards treated Thomas Rongen and Farrukh Quraishi, and the dismal results on the field, we weren’t certain we would renew our seats. It wasn’t until the day of the renewal deadline that we decided to give it one more year. We liked Stuart Campbell personally and hoped he could succeed as head coach. And we would never have such phenomenal seats—front row next to the Rowdies bench—again.
It didn’t take long for me to feel like a sucker.
Off-season signings were mostly uninspiring, and once the season started, it was clear that the team wouldn’t succeed. The star striker, Heinnemann, managed to find the next only four times. Freddy Adu, arguably the team’s best player, rarely made the bench, much less saw action on the pitch. The only bright spots were the signing of Joe Cole and the acquisition of Diego Restrepo. But Restrepo didn’t play a minute, in spite of starting keeper Matt Pickens’s objectively awful performance throughout the season. Joe Cole’s valiant effort wasn’t sufficient to make up for duds like Heinnemann, Vingaard, and Michael Nanchoff.
The atmosphere in the stadium was also disappointing. The introduction of a brass band—the “Loudies” was supposed to supplement the chanting and singing of Ralph’s Mob. They were only supposed to play when the Mob was silent. But that arrangement evaporated. The Loudies started playing whenever they felt like it, sometimes while the Mob was in mid-song, drowning them out with one of the four or five pieces that made up the band’s entire repertoire.
And our phenomenal seats turned out to have a serious drawback.
During the 2014 season, we complained that people were allowed to walk in front of us while there was play on the field. Eventually, a new rule fixed the situation: no entry through the midfield tunnel after five minutes into each half.
This year, though, that went out the window. Edwards likes to sit behind the Rowdies bench (the better to give his laughably bad advice to the coach during the game). He not only allowed but encouraged his guests to parade past us any time they felt like it. The sentries couldn’t say anything about it without losing their jobs. When we said something, we’d get at best a goofy smile and a shrug, but no change in behavior.
At the final game, I said something to Edwards when he marched past. “I didn’t pay a premium to have you and your guests walking in front of us all the time.” His response was a snarling, “That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” and, “Maybe I’ll give you different seats next year.”
He can go to hell.
I’m done spending money on this team. Edwards gave us a crappy product on the field and a lousy game day experience in the stands. Next year won’t be any better, with the Rowdies moving to USL so they can play a bunch of MLS II sides. No thanks. I can get a lot better value for my money elsewhere.