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.
As MNUFC open their home MLS campaign on Sunday, the Dark Clouds will see a massive infusion of new members into our section. One tradition that might leave them bewildered is why we sing Oasis’ Wonderwall after wins. How did a song by a Mancunian band come to be a soccer supporters’ anthem in Minnesota?
To understand, we need to go back to 2011 with NSC Minnesota Stars Assistant Coach Carl Craig (a native of England):
“I was doing an experiment all year with the players where I was using sounds and smells and stuff to try and recreate that winning environment to get the lads in the winning frame of mind for the match,” Carl says. “I’d whistle or sing [Wonderwall] all year to get lads in the mindset of winning.”
Carl continues, “I think even in a typically big, manly sport it’s fitting to use words to tell people how you feel about them. Using someone else’s words from a song I love works well. It’s appropriate words for telling the team ‘this is good stuff and I appreciate it.’ I started singing it early in the 2011 season on the bus and Neil Hlavaty and Kyle Altman joined in.”
As explained in our Tradition Tuesday: Nuts Of A Warrior piece, the Stars were not favorites for the playoffs in 2011. The Minnesota Thunder had collapsed in 2009, leaving Minnesota’s pro soccer scene in a state of upheaval. The Stars were financially strapped underdogs with a tiny front office. Wonderwall helped the players build a sense of camaraderie despite the circumstances the team found itself in off the pitch.
The first video we have of the team singing the song was filmed after the Stars’ final home game of the 2011 regular season and posted to the team YouTube channel. They’d beaten the Carolina Railhawks 2-1 to secure a place in the NASL playoffs by one point.
“We sang it all year,” Carl says, “but what really brought it to the fore was when we sang it in the dressing room in Carolina that year.”
Soon two more videos were added with the team singing the song, one after the quarterfinal win away to Tampa Bay and another after the Stars beat Carolina in a penalty shootout to progress to the final. In the video from Tampa, you can see Carl start the song. In all three videos you see the players have the song memorized.
Incredibly, the Stars won the first leg of the 2011 NASL Championship final at the Nessie. This placed them in the driver’s seat to take the trophy. Unfortunately the second leg would be played at Crappy Old Lockhart, away from the Stars’ home supporters. Thus a celebration was in order while the players and Dark Clouds were close at hand.
So the players decided to came over the section after the first leg. They serenaded us with Wonderwall. They serenaded us. The moment was captured on video and cemented into the lore of both the Dark Clouds and Minnesota soccer as the occasion the players and the supporters came together as one united whole. Watch:
The following year saw many more renditions of Wonderwall by the team and the Dark Clouds. It culminated with a carbon copy of 2011 as the Stars and the Dark Clouds sang Wonderwall after the first leg of the 2012 NASL Championship final.
The rest is history. Wonderwall became a Dark Clouds staple and has been sung after victories ever since. On rare occasions we’ve even sung the song when the moment called for it, even if the scoreline did not.
According to Carl, “Wonderwall was part of it all that year we won it all and from then on it was about recreating what we won.”
Last night a friend asked me if we’ll find an opportunity to sing Wonderwall after our first MLS home game. I had to think about it for a second. Then, I said maybe….