HELLO, INTERWEBS!!!! Tom here, a.k.a. TheBeardedGuy, to introduce myself to all of you wonderful readers of everything that is our favorite club, Orlando City, plus a whole lot more. I have been given the wonderful opportunity of contributing to The Mane Land and have been asked to spend a few words to fill you all in on who I am, what I am, and possibly give you a little insight into what you may expect from me in future articles. Sound good? Well, here we go.
Anyone who has been around the club long enough might recognize me. I was lucky enough to get a spot on a few billboards around town during the inaugural push for season tickets prior to our first year in MLS. You guessed it, I am the guy with the beard! Maybe you bumped into me and my cohorts during the USL days, tailgating at the Citrus Bowl — now Camping World Stadium — or at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. You may have seen me on the cover of aXis Magazine this past season as the co-winner of the Heineken Ultimate Fanatic Contest with The Purple Guy (lost the year before to The Orlando Unicorn) with my buddies in the Orlando Facial Hair Club (more on that later).
I have been a soccer fan for about as long as I can remember. My father is retired military, so I had the distinct pleasure of traveling, a lot! In 1988 as an almost-teen, we moved to West Germany. I was in soccer heaven! I played soccer as much as I could. When I wasn’t playing it, I was watching it. I can still remember watching World Cup Italia in 1990 and partying for three days straight after West Germany won 1-0, and I took great satisfaction in seeing the horror on Maradona’s face watching West Germany raise the trophy for the world to see. I went to many FC Kaiserslautern matches while there, and it was that total experience of unbridled soccer fanaticism that hooked me for life.
When I am not in Orlando City Stadium, or cheering our teams on from a watch party somewhere, I can probably be found watching English Premier League, having a heart attack at the “what is going to happen this week” world that is the life of a Leicester City fan for the past five seasons. I am a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a master’s degree in lasers and optics, and currently work for a defense contractor as a “mad scientist.” As previously mentioned, I also run around town with The Orlando Facial Hair Club, a great group of folks hellbent on making the world a better place.
I think that is enough about my past. Where do we go from here? Well, hopefully, with this fantastic opportunity that has been presented to me, I can bring some great discussion points to the table, offer critiques that are productive without using the lazy hashtags of the keyboard cowboys, and enjoy some meaningful conversations with all you fine folks in internet land. Thank you to everyone at The Mane Land for giving me this platform to share my thoughts and insanity with the best damn fans in the world!