Six years ago, the idea of a soccer club was introduced to the Madison community. A year later, Forward Madison FC was born, a name and brand created by and for the people. Since then, bleachers have been packed, chants have resonated, pink and blue donned, and Full Mingo chaos has grown.
This season, the club celebrated Five Years of Forward, an anniversary that couldn’t have been possible without the support and love of the community. As a token of our appreciation, we want to take a moment to highlight the amazing stories of some of our fans. Come with us as we go Behind the Mingos: Fan Edition.
Jake Feltham moved from New York to Madison, Wisconsin in 2014 for law school and fell in love with the city. A couple of years later, he and his wife began putting down roots and starting a family together. Feltham’s father, Peter, although still in New York, was extremely supportive and visited Wisconsin to see his grandkids whenever he could.
In 2019, Forward Madison FC began its inaugural season, but more importantly, the club began a shared experience for Feltham and his father.
“[My dad] just wanted to have fun [with his grandkids], and what could be more fun than taking him to a Forward Madison game? That became something that we would talk about. He would even catch the games on ESPN+, especially if I was in the stands. We would text about how the team was doing this year, and he would spread the love in upstate New York. People would come to his house for the Forward Madison games. He would let them know what noise they needed to make when there was a free kick from the other side. He developed a lot of affection for the ‘Mingos.”
Peter spent his life teaching technology and woodshop in a small town in New York. However, he is most known for building the school’s soccer program. In America during the early 90’s, football was a passion and soccer was an object of mockery, but Peter loved the game. To make the program sustainable, Peter offered to coach every single season and jumped at the chance to spread the spirit of soccer. Peter coached the first JV team, and eventually, the program expanded to include a varsity level. Feltham remembers that during the ‘98 World Cup, his dad would close all of the blinds during the middle of class, and turn on the matches for his students. It was his way of building excitement for his favorite sport.
Last June, Peter was diagnosed with brain cancer. In honor of his dedication to bringing soccer to the community, his school renamed the soccer stadium the Peter Feltham Soccer Complex. During the ceremony, dozens of his former players came to celebrate Peter.
“Players who were on his team in the early 90s, who are now in their 40s or 50s, came and reflected on [my dad’s] influence. He felt he could help people tap into the joy and delight of the game. I think it’s something like 15 former players who are now full-time soccer coaches. He was not a larger-than-life person, but I think he really did make an impact in that community in both an understated and genuine way.”
The last Forward Madison match that Peter was able to attend in person was on April 15, 2023, where he saw the ‘Mingos save a penalty and score a goal on the other end in one glorious, 30-second run. A few months later, Peter passed away.
Feltham wrote to us about his and his dad’s story on October 14th:
“When my dad died of brain cancer in August, we dressed him in his favorite FMFC shirt: a pink one with the Mingos crest, the same one he was wearing last year when he got his terminal diagnosis. He never got to see the ‘Mingos make the playoffs. But I will.”
Feltham’s message was shared with the team before the match, showing them how much the club means to fans beyond the pitch. That night, Forward Madison FC secured their playoff spot for the second time in club history.
Peter’s passion for the game lives on, as we are reminded to appreciate the magic of soccer, through all of its ups and downs. Thank you, Jake Feltham, for sharing you and your dad’s story and inspiring us all.