What would you say if I told you that one of the most decorated minor league football teams in the US just rebranded and moved to a city nicknamed ‘Murdertown’? You’d probably say “hold up, what? Repeat that fam” – or something along those lines. Well, let me tell you a little something about the Flint City Bucks.
Before we dive into the weirdness of the new Flint City Bucks and their relocation to one of the most dangerous places in the US, we need to understand not only the history of the Bucks but also the history of the area.
In 1995, a football team called the ‘Mid Michigan Bucks’ was founded in Saginaw. After finishing 3rd in their debut year of 1996, they won the Central Northern Division (later Great Lakes Division) of the USISL Premier League (later PDL) in 1997, 1999 and 2000, never actually managing to go all the way and winning the playoffs.
After ending a two-year trophy drought in 2003, the ‘Mid’-part was dropped from the name and the Michigan Bucks moved to Detroit the following year. In 2006, the Bucks finally won the national championship for the first time and after making the final of the playoffs again a year later, they left Detroit’s metro area and moved to Pontiac. The move didn’t affect the Bucks negatively and they finished 1st again; another ten years of dominance followed.
After 23 years, 14 divisional titles, 5 regular season titles and 3 national titles, the most successful team in the history of the PDL was on the move again. On October 30, 2018, it was announced that the team would transfer to Flint, Michigan and be known as the Flint City Bucks.
Flint, nicknamed Vehicle City, or perhaps more disturbingly Murdertown, is a city north of Detroit. General Motors was founded in Flint in 1908 and the city became one of the leading manufacturers of automobiles in the US during the first half of the 20th century. However, since the 1960s, GM has massively downsized their workforce, destroying 72,000 jobs, which in turn lead to the city’s population of nearly 200,000 dropping down to below 100,000.
Due to the near collapse of Flint’s economy, as well as the downsizing of the police force, crime has been a constant problem, reaching an all-time high in 2006, with 3,070 recorded violent crimes and 8,117 property crimes. The city has been rated amongst the most dangerous in the US for years.
To add insult to injury, Flint has an ongoing water crisis. Flint’s water source was changed from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River in 2014, but the lack of corrosion inhibitor usage left the city exposed to lead-contaminated water. This should go without saying, but lead-contaminated water is a serious health threat. During his time in office Barack Obama called Flint a “disaster area” and as of 2019, the water is still poisoned.
I first stumbled across Flint back in early 2014, when the band King810 burst onto the metal scene with a graphic, NSFW music video for their song ‘Killem All’, featured on their debut full-length ‘Memoirs Of A Murderer’, which was released later that year. The hard-hitting instrumentals paired with David Gunn’s disturbingly descriptive, dramatic and perhaps exaggerated lyrics about life in Flint, really attracted my attention.
Lyrics like “Father, what’s the issue with your children? They’re acting like they’re convinced that I won’t f****** kill them.” from the aptly named song ‘Murder, Murder, Murder‘ might be off-putting for some, but lines like “we’d haul water by the bucket back to our home” and “we’d laugh and joke as we all showered from the same pan on the stove” from ‘I Ain’t Goin Back Again‘ describe very real circumstances and paint a vivid picture of what life in a struggling city is like.
To my impressionable 14-year old mind, Flint was a hellhole and the people in that band were the survivors of a real-life nightmare. Flint isn’t actually a bottomless pit of everlasting fire, on the contrary, the city has actually been experiencing a slight economic boom since 2017. But let’s call a spade a spade – the city is still tormented by high crime rates and poverty.
So now the question remains – why the hell would you choose Flint as your football club’s new home? Why not rebrand as the Pontiac City Bucks, or go back to Saginaw?
Well, despite Flint’s population being virtually cut in half, it is still the largest city in Genesee County and one of the largest cities in Michigan. Chairman Dan Duggan said the following after the unveiling of the new-look Bucks:
Flint is the focus and doing something great in Flint and creating new heroes in Flint and creating new professional soccer players coming from Flint; all that was exciting.
Flint should be the focus, Flint needs something to cheer about. There is so much footballing heritage in Michigan and with thousands of registered football players in Genesee County already, success will soon follow. The Bucks are poised to bring some happiness to the community of Flint, Michigan – let’s hope they can accomplish that.