Growing up in the Eighties, my two brothers and I were a part of a small group of boys and girls playing soccer. My older brother Rob started playing the game at the local club. Robbie was assigned to the Rowdies (the club's teams' were named after NASL teams), so when I joined the league in 1981 as a first grader I too was assigned to the Rowdies. Our younger brother Tim joined the league and continued the tradition. We were three brothers sharing the sport we loved. In 1994 the United States had the great pleasure of hosting the World Cup. Rob and I drove up to East Rutherford with friends to Giants Stadium to see Saudi Arabia vs. Morocco. It was in the group stage.
Fast forward to 2010. Rob had joined the Sons of Ben and as one of the first season ticket holders, he was given a founding member scarf. Rob and his wife Katie had two young boys Colin and Aidan. So, they decided to get tickets in the north end. Rob and Katie invited my wife Janet and I to attend the first game at PPL Park. Wow, what a day that was! Can you remember? I just remember being so excited to see an actual stadium built specifically for the beautiful game that my brothers and I had grown up playing and watching together.
Now, it's 2013 early in the Major League Soccer season. Rob and I had just finished having cake and ice cream at my daughter Abby's birthday party. We sat down together and found a Portland Timbers v FC Dallas game on TV. Portland was the home team. As we were watching the game a Timbers player scored a goal, the TV cameras turned and focused on a guy holding a chainsaw. The guy started the chainsaw holding it up in the air and the crowd went nuts! Then he went over to a huge log and sliced a piece of wood off the end. At this point my brother explained to me, the piece of wood is given to the player that scored the goal. I was amazed and thought "Wow - that's cool!"
There we were watching this game together, having a good time, watching this very authentic goal celebration and my brother turns to me and said, "Hey Jim, I have this crazy idea for the Philadelphia Union and the Sons of Ben." I of course, was like "Really? What is it?"
Rob said, "Well I thought it would be cool if someone dressed up and played the role of Benjamin Franklin sitting at an old table. like the ones at Independence Hall. Mr. Franklin would have a feathered pen and would write out a goal proclamation. The proclamation would note the Union player's name, time, and the opponents name. When Ben finished the proclamation he could then show it to the fans throughout the stadium. The player would have the option of keeping the Proclamation or donating it towards the many charities the Sons of Ben and the Philadelphia Union have founded, and have been supporting since 2010."
That was my brother's idea, later that summer, August 25, 2013 my brother unexpectedly passed away. Last off-season I wrote two articles and two e-mails. One of the articles appeared on this site, the second was on the Philly Soccer Page. I e-mailed the Sons or Ben and the Philadelphia Union. My brother's idea got some good and some not so good reactions. I let it go at that.
This off-season having witnessed the change of command at both the Philadelphia Union and the Sons of Ben, I have decided to make it my mission to give Rob's idea a real fighting chance at becoming a game day reality. The new Sporting Director is in place, Coach Curtin and staff are starting to prepare the team for the new season. We the fans are growing excited about the future of this club. It is my hope that Mr. Rowan and the leaders of the Sons of Ben may see the benefits of adding this to the game day experience, ( at the now ) Talen Energy Park. I think we should look at this from the television audience perspective as well. I would love to attend every game, but it is not a possibility for me at this time in my life. When I watch the game at home, I know they're playing the " DOOP" song, but I can not hear it. I think the television audience would appreciate the Ben Franklin Goal Celebration from their living room couch or their local Pub partner's lounge. At least three teams in Major League Soccer have special goal celebrations. The most familiar one "Timber Joey"; the New England Revolution share the Patriots "Minutemen" musketeers. The Montreal Impact ring a "Silver Bell." I truly believe, my brother's idea when incorporated into the entire Sons of Ben / Philadelphia Union's game day experience will stun, excite and draw more fans to the stadium and more fans to their television screens.