FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Monty Rodrigues’ tenure as president of the Midnight Riders began in 2000 with a good-natured offer to briefly take the reins and provide stability to the discouraged supporters group.
“At that point, the frustration amongst the group was palpable,” said Rodrigues. “People were sick of dealing with the issues that they had at the time, and just didn’t think it was worth their time and effort anymore … It was really a spur of the moment thing (to become president).”
Rodrigues’ swift decision turned into a whirlwind 11-year journey in which the Midnight Riders saw their membership increase more than tenfold, due in large part to the guidance and perseverance of their determined leader. Both off the field as the group’s liaison to the Revolution and in the stands as the vocal organizer of chants and songs, Rodrigues was often the driving force behind the success of the longtime supporters group.
That’s why it was big news when Rodrigues announced he would stepping down from the position prior to the 2011 season, handing presidential duties over to Fran Harrington.
A longtime member of the Midnight Riders himself, Harrington is well aware Rodrigues will be a tough act to follow.
“It’s certainly not easy, but I’m also very proud to hold the position,” Harrington said. “There are a lot of high expectations that come with being president of the Midnight Riders, especially after the job done by Monty.
“There’s no question that the Midnight Riders would not be the group we are now had it not been for Monty,” Harrington continued. “He was here for the lowest of the lows, when it looked like the Midnight Riders were going to disband, to the highest of the highs, when we came close to 500 members. All the hard work he put in over the years has certainly made things easier for me and the board going forward, and I thank him for that.”
While Rodrigues has stepped down from his post as president of the Midnight Riders, he continues to hold season tickets in The Fort and intends to continue traveling to away games when he has the opportunity. In short, he’ll undoubtedly still be one of the club’s most vocal and passionate supporters.
As he continues to enjoy his experiences in the parking lot and in the stands alongside fellow Revolution fans from week to week, Rodrigues will forever hold on to memories created during his extensive stint in charge of the Midnight Riders.
“The friendships I’ve made through the years that will stay with me,” Rodrigues said when asked what he’ll remember most from his term. “The kids I’ve seen grow up to become adults, and the adults I’ve seen getting married and having kids. It’s just all been fantastic.”
The Midnight Riders undoubtedly benefited from Rodrigues’ tenure as president, but the Revolution also benefited greatly from the relationship between Rodrigues and the club. Working together with Rodrigues as the main point of contact, the Riders and Revs discovered ways to make the supporters’ experience as authentic as possible.
In recent years, much of Rodrigues’ interaction with the Revs was through Chief Operating Officer Brian Bilello, who was appreciative of the longtime president’s years of service.
“Having a good relationship with your supporters group is impossible without them having good leadership,” Bilello said. “From my perspective, having Monty in his role as president of the Midnight Riders has been instrumental to us forming a strong relationship with the Midnight Riders.
“On a personal note, I will miss the official interactions with Monty, although I’m guessing I’ll still be having plenty of unofficial ones in the parking lots and in the stadium,” Bilello continued. “On behalf of our entire organization, I’d like to say thanks to Monty for his dedication, effort and passion.”
It’s those characteristics which made Rodrigues such a valuable president, and it’s the results he achieved which will ultimately leave a lasting legacy.
“I’d like to think that when [people] think back about my term as president, they’ll feel that I was always approachable by anyone, always willing to share a beer or food with anyone, always willing to sing and support my team,” said Rodrigues. “And that while I was stubborn, I always tried to do what I felt was best for the Midnight Riders.”