Tradition Tuesday is a weekly feature where we 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 have the answers in Tradition Tuesday.

In a little less than a month, Minnesota Untied FC will wave goodbye to ‘Nessie’. How did the National Sports Center come to be named after the mythical monster of Loch Ness?

A Nessie tifo
A Nessie tifo

This is yet another story that starts with Bruce McGuire a.k.a. du Nord. After the Minnesota Thunder returned to play at National Sports Center in 2008, Bruce noticed that the stadium’s acronym ‘NSC’, when pronounced quickly, sounded like ‘Nessie’. After sharing it with the other Dark Clouds, the name took on a life of its own through several in jokes. Eventually a legend arose that a mythical sea monster named ‘Nessie’ lived in the large irrigation pond located behind the stadium complex.

Then one night Tim “Superrookie” Hayes and his wife Sarah stayed up late in preparation for a game, making Nessie sock puppets out of green socks, little felt ears and googly eyes. They sold these for $5 each to great aplomb.

Anthony De Sam Lazaro and the Nessie Puppet
Anthony De Sam Lazaro and the Nessie Puppet

Here’s Dark Cloud David Smith: “Tim was especially good at coming up with unusual, off-the-wall ideas and through sheer force of charisma and dogged enthusiasm convinced everyone that we should get involved. So a whole bunch of us wore these daft sock puppets on our arms during the next couple of games. That helped cement the Nessie idea in the minds of the small group of Dark Clouds that season.

During the late 2000s and early 2010s, Minnesota’s players maintained a close relationship with the Dark Clouds. Thus the team found themselves getting in on the ‘Nessie’ joke. Some players even carved Nessie into their hair before gameday. Minnesota Thunder player (and legend) Kevin Friedland donated a large plush snake (won at the state fair) to the Dark Clouds.

The Nessie puppet and wooden Nessie on the adboard in 2012 (Photo: Jeremy Olson)
The Nessie puppet and wooden Nessie on the adboard in 2012 (Photo: Jeremy Olson)

Scotsman David Smith spray-painted it green and stuck a tartan tam-o-shanter on its head. The snake was placed on the adboards in front of the Dark Clouds section and was joined there by a wooden Nessie created by Anthony De Sam Lazaro.

The 2011 Stars Home Kit
The 2011 Stars Home Kit

In 2010, during the dark days following the collapse of the Minnesota Thunder, Chris Anderson designed a t-shirt with a stylized Nessie logo and the word ‘Believe’. The team itself chose to put that same logo onto the back of the 2011 NSC Minnesota Stars Home Jersey. The Dark Clouds sang ‘We All Believe In A Scottish Lake Monster’ to the tune of Yellow Submarine as the Stars went on to win the NASL championship in that jersey.

Nessie’s story doesn’t end there. 2012 saw the introduction of the heckling Nessie who can still be found behind the visiting team’s endline at Minnesota games. But that’s a story for next week’s article when we cover A Man Called Nessie.

So why did such a dumb joke take on such a life of it’s own?

Initially the sheer absurdity of it all spurred many easy jokes but through the repeated references, ‘Nessie’ become an integral piece of the in-culture of the Dark Clouds. It was a piece of lore that could be shared with others to bring them into the group. During the dark days following the Thunder’s collapse, ‘Nessie’ became something of a rallying cry next to the ‘Believe’ slogan. Nessie provided a vital link to the past that stood next to the hopeful vision of the future embodied by ‘Believe’. We are now long past the upheaval of those days but Nessie remains an important piece of our lore. This Dark Clouds feels it would be a mistake to let it go entirely once we leave the physical Nessie.

(This article was sourced from information provided by Admiral Sports, Bruce McGuire, Steve King, Neal Logan, and David Smith)