As the mighty Forfar Athletic take on Alloa in their playoff final first-leg tonight, you might need a bit of an education when it comes to the nickname of the Station Park side. Forfar are known commonly as ‘The Loons’ but what does that mean exactly? What is a ‘Loon’? Well for those of you not familiar with the term it is a Northern Scottish or ‘Doric’ word for ‘young man’ or ‘boy’. You would think that with an unusual nickname like ‘The Loons’ Forfar would be the only club in the world with that tag. You would be wrong.
Across the Atlantic Sea, thousands of miles away from Angus, lies the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota home to the other ‘Loons’. Minnesota United FC are a relatively new side having formed in 2010 but they have already enjoyed success in winning the North American Soccer League (NASL) Championship in 2011. They were previously known as NSC Minnesota and then the Minnesota Stars FC before reforming in 2013 as Minnesota United. This rebranding was part of a process that would lead to a bid being submitted for the team to be entered into the MLS as a franchise. That bid was successful and as things stand they are due to enter the MLS in 2018.
As for the nickname, well it is a sad fact that unfortunately the term ‘Loon’ is in no way influenced by Forfar Athletic. It would be lovely to have some kind of backstory involving former Forfar players or Forfar fans setting up roots in Minneapolis only to then form a football team but the truth is actually far more boring. It is a fact that Minnesota play matches wearing the same light blue as Forfar (well their away kit is light blue) but the term ‘Loon’ is really just a reference to the Loon bird, the state bird of Minnesota. They even have a large Loon bird as their mascot as well as a Loon bird on their badge. So, not as amazing as it could have been.
You never know though, maybe there will be some kind of connection in the future, a few glamour friendlies or some tie-ins with the fans, but for now the clubs share nothing more concrete. A pity really.