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Recurrently Generated Football League: Loonsmead

Come hear the legend of Lucia, and how she dreamed up a football club.

Loonsmead crest Tyson Whiting, designer

Editor’s note: Did I say we were done? We’re not done. There’s one more, courtesy of SB Nation soccer writer and guest author Zito Madu, who wanted to be included. Zito, consider yourself included.

Because it’s the international break and we’re bored, the writers of Cartilage Free Captain have been experimenting with machine learning and recurrent neural networks. The Recurrently Generated Football League is an outgrowth of that experimentation: a collection of generated fictional English football club names. The stadiums and SB Nation blogs are also recurrently generated. This is a fictional biography of a fictional football club generated by a computer. For science.

Legend has it that 100 years ago, Lucia was on her way home from school when she fainted. She laid in a coma in the hospital for months after, often babbling about things that no one could understand. Doctors were brought in from all over the world to diagnose and cure her, but none succeeded. They determined that she was either possessed or had gone mad. Exorcists were sent for. They came and went as the doctors did.

One day, she suddenly sat up and opened her eyes. The eyes were completely white and the areas around them a deep blue.

Lucia’s parents ran to her side and called for a doctor. One arrived soon after. The doctor asked Lucia if she knew who and where she was. She gazed at him for a moment and responded that at one time she had been Lucia Chambers, only child of Matthew and Ruby Chambers. She knew where she was, the Loonsmead General Hospital, who the doctor was, Dr. Jamison Higgins, and the name of every other doctor, nurse, patient and civilian that was in the hospital.

She recited events that happened while she was in her coma. Events in the lives of her parents, the doctor, things that happened in the hospital, in the town of Loonsmead, in England, and around the world. She talked of things that happened before her even her lifetime, and then things that were yet to come.

She saw Jamison Higgins the boy, Dr. Higgins and the old grandfather, James Higgins, all at the same time. He was sat on his father’s lap, healing his patients and playing with his grandchildren right in front of her eyes. She saw Matthew Chambers and Ruby Hudson the children, the married couple and their return to dust. All that had been, that was, and was to be.

Her parents were stunned and horrified. Yet, she saw them trying to protect her from the townspeople, who, after finding out about her powers, were driven to the blind violence typical in groups of people. Fear of the unknown. Lucia was not without some humanity. She felt sad for the two of them. Even in the vast expanse of time and the universe where their lives were no more significant than the passing of a second, she thought that they deserved to pass that second in happiness.

She remembered, or maybe she pinpointed in the past, that her parents were avid soccer fans. Since Loonsmead didn’t have a team of its own, they would travel to neighboring towns to watch matches, always taking Lucia along with them. The girl herself had wanted to play soccer. She dreamed of playing in front of thousands of people, scoring game-winning goals and lifting trophies. She wished to travel the world through the game and returning to start a team in Loonsmead after conquering the fields of other cities and countries.

Lucia told her parents to start a soccer team. She told them to recruit 11 boys from the town, Kayden Mills, Ryan Marsh, Isaac Ball, Jay Butler, Joshua Chapman, Edward Kelly, Joel Hart, Jayden Rees, Sylas Vaughn, Louie Jackson and Owen Harper, as the first players of Loonsmead. She took her mother’s hand and drew the crest of the team on the palm. She called it the simplest and most abundant element.

Even as she told them how to build the team, Lucia saw Loonsmead’s early years, the mud pitches, the leather ball, the working class fans drinking in the stands, the barren run of trophyless years where her parents would doubt everything that happened in the hospital. She saw their resurgence after. The golden age under the manager, Liam Kennedy.

She saw Joshua Chapman’s descendent, Gabriel Chapman, scoring over 400 goals for the club and bringing in countless trophies. Then the silver age under Anthony Harris. The influx of foreign players, the battles between fans and ownership about the identity of the team, their near-bankruptcy, and the steadying of the ship. Lucia saw Loonsmead fighting for domestic and continental titles as a member of the Premier League. Most important of all, she saw her parents happy as the founders of one of the country’s greatest soccer teams.

After she instructed them, Lucia vanished into thin air. Everything felt like a dream for those in the room. Neither the doctor nor the parents were sure they had seen or heard what they think they did.

On their way home that day, Matthew and Ruby Chambers saw a group of children playing soccer in the street. One of them, a bow legged boy with messy black hair, kept dribbling with his head down. He ran into the couple and fell to the ground as a consequence.

Mr. Chambers helped him up. He asked the boy for his name. The child replied, “Josh Chapman, sir.”

Mr. Chambers ruffled the boy’s hair and said to him, “well Josh Chapman, always remember to keep your head up and look forward. There are great things to come.”

Loonsmead kits Tyson Whiting, designer