The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
The Hammers recently finished their first-ever season and this week we have been looking back at their successful debut. We talked with owner Jeff McIntyre, and then head coach Lance Calloway. Now we meet a supporter who has become a bit of an icon up north.
Civic Stadium comes alive for Bellingham United Football Club home matches. Leading the noise for his boys is Hooligan Ron (Errien).
“I am originally from Riverside, California,” he tells goalWA.net, “and it was there that the soccer bug bit me hard.”
The Navy vet has become a fixture on the sidelines for the Hammers, dressing in full gear that features a helmet with a hammer on top. The club and the city found the right man at the right time.
“My family and I have been in Bellingham for 8 years now,” Ron explains. “I was stationed in Bremerton in 1994 aboard the USS Nimitz and did not the like area. I did some exploring and found Bellingham and always felt it would be a great place to raise a family.” It was then a matter of waiting to see if soccer would ever come to the city at a higher level. Ron’s wait ended in 2012.
Ron’s roots in soccer are deep. “In some form I have been involved with soccer my entire life. I played and refereed in my youth and young adult years. Took a break while in the Navy and it was not until my first child did I get back into it so I could coach my kids.” Ron took to the rules of the game early, and early on he saw the real world interject into his soccer play life. “It was during a soccer game I was reffing when I was 11 years old that I found out my Dad had passed away.”
Bellingham United was founded in 2011 and hit the pitch in 2012. Ron followed the build-up to the club’s debut. “It was an article in the Bellingham Herald that tipped me off to Bellingham United FC and it was then that I heard my calling. I am an avid sports fan. Although soccer is my first and biggest love, there is nothing that I don’t watch. I am not so into the players/coaches, they come and go. I love the actual sport or event. I once told someone that if I could heckle a cockroach race I would! When I was young the first match I ever saw was Manchester United. Seeing the masses sing and chant, win, lose or draw, they give it all 90. Seeing that intense passion was all I needed. I was sold soccer is the life for me.”
In the pre-season Ron began his support of the Hammers, considering that Bellingham might not “get” what he was trying to do.
“I know that my style and passion is not for everyone. So I made a sign out of poster board and paint that read “Hooligan’s Row,” so people would now that this is a crazy section. I brought my full drum kit to the preseason match vs Kitsap Pumas. Someone took a pictire and posted it on Facebook calling me “Hooligan Ron.” Because of the pic that was with name I thought they miss read the sign. After saying it a few times I really liked it and so Hooligan Ron was born. It was not ’til later that I found out the person who took pic. and gave me name was doing it to mock me. Too late though, a monster was born and sowas the starting of Bellinghammers SC. (A Hammers Supporters group)
Out of the pre-season came the regular league debut, crowds of over 1,000 fans, and Hooligan Ron and his drum leading cheers at Civic Stadium. Ron also has taken the microphone and conducted video interviews for the club.
“I feel as fans our job is to give our boys the energy they need when they are tired, to get in the heads of the opposing team…to be focused on us…not the pitch. A lot of my success with the supporters club has come with the great help of Joey, Jean and Bob LaRue and Bellingham United FC for allowing me to be me. The players definitely have told me themselves that they love what we do and even help create songs and chants for us to do. It has been great to see more people in the beer garden create their own hardhats with hammers on top.”
“For me it has been life changing,” Ron says of the arrival of BUFC. “I was not looking to start a supporters club, I just wanted to share my passion and maybe create that ‘euro’ feel. Being a first-year team it was really up in the air as to which way the season could have gone. Lucky for us we had a great coach (Lance Calloway) picked out. He then put the pieces together—coaching staff and a great pool of talent. It has been great to watch my kids get excited as their teacher, Matthew “Ziggy” Ziguilis, took charge on the field and in the classroom. It has been amazing to watch each Sunday the tailgate section get bigger, more fans showing their love for BUFC in their own unique way. It really climaxed for me when we dethroned the unbeatable (Vancouver Thunderbirds) and were able to do it in our own house. It was epic, especially when we all rushed the pitch. I could not be happier and more proud to have and flaunt my Bellingham United tattoo.”
The Pacific Coast Soccer League season is just under three months long. That leaves nine months a year for Hammers fans to live with withdrawls.
“We will be very active through the winter as many of our players will play for Western Washington and also the WSA Rapids indoor team…so although BUFC is our first love we will be out showing our support for them until next season begins. We will also be doing the Lynden Christmas Parade. making more tifos and flags for next season and prepping for our first march from Sol de Mexico (across from Civic) next season.
“I would definitely like to see the PCSL season stretched out so our boys aren’t playing and traveling so much back to back.”
“I would also like to see people show up earlier (on match days) to enjoy the festivities.”
Listen to the top “Hammerhead,” Bellingham.