Quincy, IL is a river town with a population estimated around 50,000 people (including outskirts). The town is commonly referred to as the ‘Gem City’, a tight-knit community with one public and one private high school. Friends growing up together in this All-American town tend to form lifelong relationships.
Several of these friendships have made the five hour / 300 mile trek from Quincy to the ‘Windy City’. Here is a story of a group of friends who are from Quincy, but now live in Chicago and all play (or spectate) on an outdoor soccer team together.
Q & A with Scott Brennan of Manchesthair United
How has this group been able to remain so close years after leaving their hometown?
‘It just seems that everyone from Quincy, whether you have been friends for 20 years or 2 days, gets along effortlessly. When I moved to Chicago five years ago, I starting hanging out with a different group of Quincy people; that group still holds an annual ‘Quincy Thanksgiving’ every year that usually has about 30-40 guests. Last year, we had people scheduled to come from as far away as St. Louis and Detroit.
Now, I play soccer and spend time with the Manchesthair United team, which is a mixture of old and new friends. While the people change, the spirit stays the same.’
Who came up with the team name Manchesthair United?
‘People united from a couple teams and places to form Manchesthair United, ala Captain Planet. The name was a moment of pure inspiration; the logo was the hard part. But anytime you have a chance to put a shirtless David Hasselhoff on a jersey, you go for it.’
How competitive is this 11 on 11 soccer league?
‘It has a solid mix of players, ranging from people who played college soccer and others more like me, whose greatest soccer highlights have occurred while holding an Xbox controller. Leagues like this are a great opportunity to get together with friends, pretend like you exercise, do something you enjoy, and then hang out afterwards. And it’s natural to fill a team with people from Quincy, since we excel both during and after the game.’
When you meet new people in the city, do they think this Quincy bond is unusual?
‘Everyone is always surprised by the amount of Quincy people that hang out together. It’s been a bit of a running joke for all of my friends, whether they’re from Quincy or somewhere else. I like to say that Quincy people are taking over the world. I just didn’t know that we were doing it one soccer league at a time. On a more serious note, it is a very unique bond. It is still a little surprising every time you run into someone from Quincy, then end up feeling like close friends a couple hours (and/or beers) later. Still today, I would say hello and have a drink with just about anyone (excluding Nate Terwelp, who still owes me five bucks from beating him in putt putt) that I met while growing up.’
What is your favorite summer activity in Chicago?
‘There are too many to name them all, but Wrigley Field, the beach, street festivals, beer gardens and rooftops, riding my bike, sports of any kind, bar trivia, hanging out with friends and family, barbecues, meeting new people, and the parks are a good place to start. I am sure someone else could come up with a completely different list than mine.’
How often do you take the Amtrak back to Quincy?
‘Probably once a year or so, but I just sold my car, so I imagine there will be plenty more Amtrak in my future.’
What is the most difficult part about living in such a large city?
‘There are plenty of difficulties about living in Chicago: cost, noise, traffic, the cold, commute times, etc. But, just like any other place, what really matters is how much those flaws bother you. Oddly, the one thing besides traffic that everyone (meaning my mom) always mentions, crime and safety, has never really been an issue. The worst crime I’ve seen in Chicago is the proliferation of manpris.’
Do you ever see yourself moving back?
‘Planning that far ahead has never been my specialty. However, like most people from Quincy, the thought has flashed across my mind in a daydream or two.’
- Scott graduated from Quincy Notre Dame High School in 1999 (voted teacher’s pet).
- Scott works downtown at FTI Consulting.
- In the team’s first postseason last year, Manchesthair United lost in the semifinals. Ranked third as they enter this year’s playoffs.
- The 11 on 11 soccer league plays it’s games at the Montrose Harbor turf fields.
Not shown in picture: Nick Paul, Jake Longo, Chris Fitch, Courtney Carosello (Paul), Sarah Paul (Conway)
- Interview and photo by Kevin Doellman, Ayo Kdoe Productions