Dark Clouds at NSC (Photo: Jeremy Olson)

Dark Clouds at NSC (Photo: Jeremy Olson)

Tradition Tuesday is a weekly feature where we’ll explore the history, lore, and culture of the Dark Clouds. Confused about why we sing about Hot Nuts? Which Minnesota player coined “Nuts Of A Warrior”? Why does the section quack every so often? We’ll have the answers in Tradition Tuesday.

You’ve probably noticed by this point that the Dark Clouds have several songs that reference Milwaukee. What gives?

The rivalry between Milwaukee and Minnesota stretches back to 1994 when the Milwaukee Rampage started playing the Minnesota Thunder. The teams were close geographically and games were action packed affairs, high on emotion. Dark Cloud Jim Crist: “The games were always contentious and full of red cards. I remember when I was 14 [1996], the Thunder were playing Milwaukee at Macalester. Milwaukee scored a goal and their coach turned around to look at the crowd smugly. I remember flipping him off and not really knowing why…except that it seemed like the right thing to do.”

Another great anecdote comes from an away playoff game in 2002 when a Minnesota supporter yelled at Milwaukee defender Destin Makumbu chasing the ball, “Destin you’re a hack!” Makumbu turned to face the supporters in anger and lost his man. That left one of our player to take the ball to the goal unchallenged and score.

By the time the Dark Clouds took their name, the Rampage had collapsed and been replaced by the Milwaukee Wave United. Formed around heckling by longtime Thunder fans, the Dark Clouds’ found the pre-existing rivalry rich for appropriation. Particular pleasure was taken in heckling twins Todd and Troy Dusosky, former child professional wrestlers who were born in Anoka, played for Milwaukee and seemed to lose their cool particularly quickly. Unfortunately the Wave United didn’t last long and last played in 2005.

But why does our hate for Milwaukee persist today when we haven’t played them in years? Because it’s tradition and a rivalry with a team that doesn’t exist is as good as one that’s forced.

Rivalries form over years of attrition and through a natural series of events that capture the supporters’ imagination. They aren’t made when team GMs draft ridiculous, over the top letters or when the league decides who you’re playing in the “official” rivalry week. We haven’t had another team located geographically close in a long time and no team has persistently caught the Dark Clouds’ ire the way Milwaukee did. Maybe someday we’ll develop another true rival who makes our blood boil.

Till then, we’ll always hate Milwaukee.

2 thoughts on “Tradition Tuesday: Milwaukee – The Eternal Rival

  1. Nachiket, you ain’t tellin’ the half of it. 😉

    If you and all you readers out there will just follow me into the WABAC Machine (picked it up at a Jay Ward garage sale)…

    The year: 1991. The place; Blaine, Minnesota. A plucky band of local soccer players calling themselves the Minnesota Thunder, never having lost a match in their nearly 2 years of existence, suffer their first home draw against the Milwaukee Wave, an indoor team fielding an off season side for training purposes. The 1-1 draw leaves the Thunder with a 10-0-1 home record which increases to 12-0-1 by the end of the season. More on that later.

    We now move forward to just before the start of the 1994 season. This amalgamation of amateurs is about to start its first year as a league affiliated (USISL) club. But it is going to do so without one of its star players. Tony Sanneh leaves the Thunder to sign with a PROFESSIONAL team, the Milwaukee Rampage. By the next season, Minnesota will, in part because of the loss of Tony for ‘94, become a pro team. Sanneh returns. By the way, the Thunder’s home record, by the end of 1994 is 39-0-2.

    We skip ahead to June 9th, 1996. After 6 plus seasons starting in 1990, the home undefeated streak ends at 59 matches (57-0-2). The score; 0-1. The goal scorer; Dan Stebbins. The team, The Milwaukee Rampage.

    Onward to September 21st, 2000. The defending league champion Minnesota Thunder, defeated the Milwaukee Rampage, at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee (I was there 😀 ) by a score of 4-3 with two goals scored by Minnesota’s notorious Swedish mixer, Morgan Zeba. And then this happens…

    (Copy and paste. It’s worth it.)

    Yes, Zeba was cold-cocked, from BEHIND, by Milwaukee’s Todd Dusosky, a former Minnesota Thunder player and career hothead.

    We continue to September 14th, 2002. In the second match of a home and home Western semi-final match, the Thunder lose to the Rampage ( I was there 🙁 ), in Milwaukee, by a score of 2-1 when a Jakob Fenger goal is disallowed because of an obviously incorrect handball call on Fenger. The Milwaukee Rampage goes on to win the League Championship and then promptly folds and ceases operations permanently.

    We go forth yet again to 2004, when a new outdoor Milwaukee team, the Wave United (owned by the longtime indoor team, the Wave), is formed. In March, just before the season begins, they sign Minnesota’s leading scorer of the previous 2 seasons, the forward that helped lead them to the 2003 league championship match, Johnny Torres. They do so by offering him a full year, indoor/outdoor contract. The Minnesota Thunder, having appeared in the A-League Championship Match four out of the previous six years, will never do so again. By 2006, the Wave had folded the Wave United. And that was the end of professional soccer in Milwaukee.

    Throughout their 20 year history, the Minnesota Thunder played against the Milwaukee Wave, Rampage, Bavarians, and Wave United. In pre-season, they played both the U of W – Milwaukee and Marquette.

    The two largest crowds for league soccer in Minnesota from 1990 to TODAY are July 11th, 1994 with 10,149 in attendance and July 10th, 1995 with 11,255. Both were against the Milwaukee Rampage.

    Folks, this was more than just a geographical rivalry with some rough play. And this little history lesson is just the tip of this Titanic-sinking soccer iceberg. This was a series of match-ups between top quality teams with an absolute driving NEED to emerge victorious. Filled with enough blood and intrigue to make “Game of Thrones” look like an episode of “My Little Pony”. For YEARS, this was the biggest rivalry in professional soccer.

    And THAT is why we will always despise (while they are on the pitch 🙂 ) Milwaukee soccer clubs, no matter what team next crawls out of the slime of the Menomonee, Kinnickinnic and Milwaukee Rivers.


Leave a Reply