G’day loyal reader. Gather ‘round and pour yourself a pint!  Make yourselves comfortable and be ready to be amazed, for the tale that I am about to tell ye, be true.

Now I know that I am one to be fabricatin’ stories and tellin’ tales taller than a giant squid’s eye in this here blog o’ mine, but trust me lads and lass when I tell ya this followin’ adventure be based on fact, not fiction.

Let me tell ye about the rowdiest and wildest soccer club to ever play upon the fair, green fields of St. Louis, Missouri.

The name of the team was The Raiders.  I was a member of this motley group of boys from the tender ages of 8-15 years of age.  Aye, impressionable ages to be sure.  These were the times in a young boy’s life where he goes from being a wee little whelp into becoming a strapping young man. And for the most part, the crew stayed the same.  The rooster changed but little every year.  The cast of characters who played soccer year round inside and outside were some of the most feared and despised players to ever lace up a pair of cleats.

I held the privilege of leading these lost boys as their Captain for most of the years I played with them.  My official position was Sweeper. The last man back besides the goalkeeper.  I had no man to mark and was free to roam about the backfield, calling plays, like the dreaded “Offside Trap.”  Often I would give the command by yelling like Admiral Ackbar in Return of the Jedi, “It’s a trap!”  (Alright, that’s a lie, but wouldn’t that have been fantastic?)

Holdin’ down the backfield were some of the toughest defenders in the league.  On the left side was the fullback who went by the name of Robbie Kuhn.  He was also the team thief and unbeknownst to me for many a year, stoned on marijuana for nearly every game.  He will play an important role later in our story, but for now I will just tell ye this; Robbie would come to games and right before we started our warm-up, he’d open up a duffel bag full of Guess and Swatch watches. He would tell us right then and there, with his eyelids heavy and a sly smirk on his face, that he swiped ‘em from the Famous Barr stores in St. Louis.  To entice us to buy them, he’d even wear a few on his arms and we watched in awe as they shone brilliantly in the summer sun.

Directly in front of me, was Brian, “Bruiser” Dietrich.  Bruiser sported a full beard at a freakishly young age and was built like a mini-Arnold Schwarzeneggar.  He was our tank.  Aye, for a bit of time I thought he hailed from the land of Germany but it just turned out he had a bad speech impediment.  Brian lacked any ball handling or dribbling skills whatsoever and instead preferred to run kids right over.  In one match, Brian collided with another player on the opposing team so hard that he knocked the kid right out of his shoes and also out of consciousness.  Brian, however, immediately got up and proceeded to run the opposite way of in the direction of play.  When the coach later asked him about this, Brian replied, “I lost my vision. I couldn’t see anything so I ran in the way I thought everyone else was going.”

To my right still on defense, was the team’s punk.  Billy Riffschneider.  Oh Billy.  What a troubled lad. Billy sported a crew cut yet still had a long blonde and brown rat-tail, crooked teeth and a scar that ran downside his face.  Here is a lovely story about what kind of trouble Billy would get us in:  (You can stop reading in an Irish accent, if you haven’t all ready)

When we were all 14-15 years of age, we played in a weekend long soccer tournament in the glorious town of Peoria, IL.   On one of the nights, Billy sneaks into my room with a few other boys and tells me that we are going to steal the assistant coach’s car and take it for a joyride and maybe pick up some chicken from KFC.  He dangles the coach’s keys in front of me and wants to know if I’d like to go with them exploring and to see all the exciting nightlife that Peoria has to offer.   I emphatically shake my head yes, jump out of my hotel bed in a flash, and the next thing I know I’m in the backseat with a car full of lads that are up to no good.  Billy is driving and of course he has no license or any experience behind the wheel of a BMW (!). After driving around in a constant state of terror/giggling/screaming, Billy takes a wrong turn and we end up in the very wrong part of Peoria.  I believe it was like an industrial park of sorts.

Here we found fair and lovely ladies of the night walking about in short skirts and tiny shirts offering ‘favors’ for those that approach them.   Billy thinks it’d be wise if we picked up one of these ladies for an evening of pleasure.  There is much debate in the group if this is a good idea or a bad idea.

Eventually, we drive slowly up to one who’s wearing a pink spandex dress that stops just below her ass cheeks.  She has beautiful ebony skin and a sweet smile.

Chad, who is riding in the passenger seat, rolls down his window and asks, “Hey baby! How much you charge for a good time?”

She turns all the way around and bends over so now she is jiggling her large breasts in front of us.  We all go deadly quiet.  So quiet you could hear a pin drop as we all stare at her.

“$200,” is her reply.

More silence for a few seconds, then Robbie Kuhn pipes up from the back, “For all of us?”

Her smile fades as she puts her hands on hips and yells, “Hell no!  Boys, get yo ass home.”

We take her good and kindly advice and finally head back to our hotel at about 4:30 in the morning.  There are plenty of other adventures starring Billy, but I will save them for another day.  I will say this, the last time I ever saw Billy was the night I and several other teammates got into a Roman candle fight with him and we left him throwing up inside of a Shoney’s after he ate bad hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Other memorable teammates include Roderick Collins, who was from the deep inner city of St. Louis.  I remember one game when he was at odds with another player on the opposite team. Roderick decided to take his cleats off after the game was over, run up to the kid and promptly beat him down using his own soccer shoes.  Needless to say, this got him banned for several games.

Oh, I can’t forget Victor Valley, who was the pint-sized dynamo.  He was also from the mean streets of St. Louis.  Victor had the hardest shot with his left foot that I had ever seen.  But he couldn’t kick at all with his right to save his life.  His ivory skinned counter-part on the right at the Striker position was Martin Powers.  Marty was as pale and blonde as a Yeti’s new coat of fur, and was incredibly fast.  He was often our top goal scorer.

So the thing about the Raiders is that we had no sponsors. We had little, if any, money.  In a league full of rich teams who had names like, Anheuser- Busch, Coca-Cola and AIG, we were the only ones lacking any sort of Corporate America funding or brand recognition.  I often wonder how we even became a team or how we got to play.

The Raiders were the soccer equivalent of baseball’s Bad News Bears.  I could imagine if we were on ESPN 8 (The Ocho) and the announcers would say, “Well Jim, here’s an interesting game today. It’s the powerful Anheuser-Busch vs The …hmm…The Raiders?  Is that right?  They’re just called The Raiders?  Who are these guys? And why does their mascot look like a bleeding, angry Pirate?  Well, it should be a slaughter. Back to you, Jim.”

But, what was cool is that we were actually pretty good.  We were always the underdog and sure, we knew we weren’t the best team, but I’m convinced we were having the most fun out there.  Other teams and their parents seemed to take it all way too seriously.  We were just happy that we got to run around and play.

O.K.  Here’s the last part of the story.  Robbie Kuhn, from the beginning of this story if you remember, introduced me to something rather crazy one night after practice.  He and I were 13 years old and were always talking about video games or music.  One particular evening, as we were waiting for our parents to pick us up after soccer practice, Robbie comes up to me and says, “Dave, I got somethin’ you need to check out. Follow me.”

He picks up his duffle bag and motions for me to follow him to the nearby graveyard.  (Yes, you read that correctly. We often had practice that particular season right next to a cemetery. )

So, I follow him and we crotch down behind a tombstone.  He opens up the bag and pulls out two cassette tapes. They appear to be the blank, recordable kind.  He looks at me and says, “You need to listen to these songs.  But don’t let your parents catch you listening to it or let them hear any of it.  I’m being serious.”

“Woah. OK. Why not?  What is it of?”  In my 13-year-old brain I imagine Robbie somehow got a copy of someone getting murdered on tape or a real scary, ghost story.   Perhaps the recording of a Possession.

“Just go home and listen to it by yourself, man. You’re gonna like it.”

I take the cassette tapes from his hand and look down on the side of the tapes.

Written in black Magic Marker are the words “Eazy-E” on one and “N.W.A.” on the other.

When I arrive home, I immediately run to my room, lock the door and grab my radio.  It’s a small, one speaker gray and black radio that we may have bought at Aldi’s.  I place it on my desk and fumble with getting the tape out of my sweatpants pocket.

I anxiously pop the Eazy-E tape in and turn the volume all the way up to “1”.  Suddenly, I am exposed to the colorful world of Gangsta Rap.  I sit there, with my mouth hanging open and my ear pressed to the radio, as Eazy-E’s X-rated high pitched whine/rapping comes out of the speaker.  Tales of violence, sex, drugs and life in the ghetto wash over me.  Most of the lyrics and references at the time are very foreign to me.  So many questions I have!  What’s a 40-ounce of Old E?  What’s a schoolyard clucka? Some kind of chicken?  What in the world does ‘A fresh El Camino rolled , Kilo G’mean? What does it mean to be a skeezer?  Where exactly is Compton?

For years I thought the Eazy-E line, “She’s bad nobody is badder but she got more crabs than a seafood platter,” was a reference to this girl working at Red Lobster or some kind of seafood restaurant.

I know that these and other Gangsta Rap tapes I owned were not the best things my young and easily influenced mind should have been listening to, but it was exciting being exposed to this whole world that I really had no clue about.

However, I did learn some things at an early age from their albums and I have a small list of it below:

1.   Even though N.W.A. may sell crack cocaine, you are a stupid mother f%&$% if you actually do the drug.  Don’t do crack.

2.    Ice Cube told me that girls with big butts in biker shorts are fly but be careful because they may take you for your money.  Try taking them to Burger king first before taking them out to a fancy restaurant.  Don’t get taken for your money.

3.    Thanks to Slick Rick for first telling me about Cool Water cologne and that it’s OK to apply Johnson Baby Powder to your balls to keep them fresh before going out.

 

PEACE.  I’m out.  Word up.  Fresh for 2011, SUCKAS.

 

hardcore gangsta who all the ladies love.

 

 

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