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La Furia Roja 1881 and The Cactus Pricks: 2013 Story of the Year

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Phoenix soccer reached several milestones, some of which hit rock bottom on the way.

But through it all. There is one story in 2013 that tops them all.

The 2013 Desert Derby, the first rivalry match between two independent soccer supporter groups La Furia Roja 1881/The Red Fury 1881 and the Cactus Pricks that went on to raise $4,510 for a nonprofit organization that supports wounded war veterans, The Wounded Warrior Project. The total money raised was four times greater than the initial stated goal with both sides putting in the work to make sure their rivalry match makes a difference in the community.

The Cactus Pricks, the independent supporters of USL PDL club FC Tucson, beat “LFR 1881,” the independent supporters of USL PRO club Phoenix FC, 3-0 on Dec. 7 at Casa Grande Sports World in Casa Grande.

Greg Spradlin, LFR 1881 director, had hoped to win the match, but the ultimate goal was reached.

“I think the event went well, and was definitely a good foundation setting for future Derbies,” said Spradlin, who came up with the idea of having the game benefit a charity and specifically The Wounded Warrior Project on the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. “We obviously made a great contribution to a great cause. The rivalry was definitely there you could feel the passion on the field.”

A rivalry being what it is, there was still some contentions before and after the match.

The Cactus Pricks wanted the match to be co-ed, but female members of LFR 1881 had declined to play. The Cactus Pricks played with female players anyway. The Cactus Pricks did not have to pay more for insurance because they fielded female players, in fact, in the end, they paid less.

After the match, the Cactus Pricks paid Spradlin, who fronted the entire cost of insurance a few days before the match, their half of the insurance ($320) in coins, including $210 in pennies.

“We were fortunate enough that a small bank was sympathetic to what had happened and waived all the fees for us,” Spradlin said.

And so, the rivalry continues. Back and forth LFR 1881 and the Cactus Pricks go. In the stands. And now on the field. A rivalry, strengthened.

“It was great seeing (FC Tucson Co-Managing Partner) Chris Keeney out there supporting his fans and representing Tucson for Arizona pride,” Spradlin said. “I really hope to see Phoenix FC represent in 2014.

“And finally I’m really proud of LFR 1881 for coming together to support a great cause and represent Phoenix. We might not have got the win, but this is where we start. The foundations have been laid.”

And now, your Moment of Zin:

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