Fan-spiration: “The power of football – and FC Bayern – is amazing”
When he was a 10-year-old boy, Timothy Michael Rachford – or Timmy – started playing youth football. During that time, in the 1970s, the local Tampa Bay Rowdies and the former North American Soccer League were still in full swing.
“Around the same time, there was a TV program on local Public Broadcasting called ‘Soccer Made in Germany’, narrated by Toby Charles,” Timmy says. “1977/78 was the first season I watched, and it seemed as if FC Bayern were featured in this broadcast more often than not and this started my lifelong allegiance to the club.”
Introduced to the Bundesliga by legendary players like Sepp Maier, Paul Breitner, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and Georg Schwarzenbeck, Timmy embarked on a football odyssey that has spanned four decades and remains as strong as ever to this day.
“Back in those ‘Soccer Made in Germany’ days, Kicker published a small pamphlet publication called ‘Globe Kicker’ that accompanied those broadcasts and I bugged my mom for days until she agreed to get me a subscription,” the 54-year-old, a social studies and history teacher based in Seminole, Florida, recalls. “I wish I still had copies of those old magazines!”
Timmy says that FC Bayern’s motto “Mia San Mia” means everything to him: “I have friends in Germany in addition to so many great people and friends in our current fan club that embody that meaning. We truly are like a family.”
Outside his immediate family, he adds, the most special friends in his life are the fellow FC Bayern supporters within the fan club, and it goes beyond watching football together: they meet for dinners, birthday parties, social gatherings.
“If it were not for FC Bayern, I’d never have met any of these people, and I don’t take that fact for granted,” he explains. “The power of football is amazing.”
Timmy was appointed President of the FCB St. Petersburg Fan Club in 2016, one year after it was formed when the local Hofbrauhaus opened in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Since then, he has dedicated his time to publicize the club’s matchday watch parties and other events, as well as maintaining the social media pages.
Due to a change of ownership, the fan club had to move its regular meeting space from the Hofbrauhaus to the German American Society in Pinellas Park, Florida in 2019.
“What we have now is special and unique – we have our own FCB clubhouse, I have a key to the place, and it is truly ours,” Timmy says. “All 103 members of our FC Bayern fan club came with us and joined the German club as members.”
Looking back at the last four decades as a devoted Bayern fan, Timmy has many fond memories and players he loved to watch.
“I actually like that the club is bigger than the individual players, but I do have some players that I think really stood out during their time with FC Bayern,” he says. “In the 1970s, it was Paul Breitner because he was an all-arounder. Kalle Rummenigge was great in attack on the left and as a midfielder. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben are two of my all-time favorites as well. They showed great leadership and were the embodiment of Bayern – and of course, Robben was and will always be Mr. Wembley.”
When asked about his favorite fan moments, Timmy laughs – there are simply too many, but in the end, he manages to narrow them down to just a few. The treble seasons of 2013 and 2020 come to mind, as well as the 2000/01 match in Hamburg on the last day of the Bundesliga season when Bayern managed to clinch the title over Schalke 04.
“That was Patrik Andersson’s only goal for FC Bayern, but it was a big one!”, Timmy recalls. “The 5:1 vs Frankfurt on the last day of the 2019/20 season 2019/20 was very special as well, when both Ribery and Robben scored in their farewell match.”
He says that the only dislike he has about the club is its advertising arrangement with Qatar Airways – for the obvious reason that the country has some serious human rights issues – and is wondering if there aren’t other lucrative sponsorship opportunities Bayern could pursue. In the end, however, Timmy tries to focus on the positive sides of the club rather than the negative traits.
He happily shares one more positive example of how football and FC Bayern have the ability to bring together people from all over the world: last year, when the pandemic began to force global lockdowns, and football games had to take place without spectators, Timmy organized a Zoom meeting for the fan club.
“I reached out to Bundesliga commentator Phil Bonney on Twitter, explained a bit of my love for FC Bayern and how a fellow Englishman like himself – Toby Charles – had been instrumental in starting my love for the club,” Timmy says.
He asked Phil if he might be available to join the Zoom meeting, never thinking that he would actually agree because of his busy schedule, “but he graciously agreed to join about twelve of us during the Zoom Meeting that day last May!”
Phil stayed in the call for half an hour. Timmy and the others had prepared the YouTube clip of Robert Lewandowski’s infamous performance against Wolfsburg in 2015, when the striker scored five goals in only nine minutes – and Phil “called” it again during the Zoom meeting, re-enacting his commentary on the incredible Lewandowski gala live.
“More than that, he answered every question we had – it was a really special meeting during difficult times,” Timmy says.
In 2015, Timmy traveled to Germany with his wife. During his trip, he spent a weekend in Munich, watching a match at Allianz Arena and visiting the Säbener Straße as well as the Erlebniswelt museum.
“It was an amazing trip, which far exceeded anything I had hoped it would be,” he recalls. “The sound in the Allianz that day was amazing. The television really does not do it justice: just a cauldron of singing and chanting the entire match that day. A late winner by Bastian Schweinsteiger claimed the 3 points versus Hertha Berlin 1:0 and the title the next day was ours.”
Last summer, he adds, he and his wife had tickets for the March 2020 matches v Frankfurt and the return leg of the Champions League match against Chelsea, “but then COVID-19 canceled that trip… so maybe a return in the coming seasons is possible if the world cooperates.”