Croatia fans fill St. John’s Catholic Club in KCK for World Cup watch party

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- There are more than half a dozen TVs on the walls of the St. John's Catholic Club in Kansas City, Kansas.  Directly across from one, Goran Dordevich is waving the Croatian flag.

"This is my life," he said. "This is what I live for."

Dordevich left Croatia 19 years ago. But for a few hours Sunday, he was back (figuratively, of course).

"Two hundred, 250 people, my people," he said, "that are born here, in these checkers, you know? It's like, my heart is so happy. I'm like, it's everything for me. It doesn't get much better than this."

This, as he gestured, was a large group of people, bedecked in red,white, and blue. Most are parishoners of St. John's Catholic Church. On Sunday, so was Dordevich.

"I went to this church this morning," he said, gesturing with the flag over his shoulder, "just to pray for us to win today."

St. John's sits on top of Strawberry Hill, surrounded by generations of Croatian families. A century ago, jobs at the packing plants drew them to the banks of the river. Family kept them close.

Kenny Yarnovich is one of those. His grandparents immigrated to the US.

"By all means," he said, "this is the biggest gathering of Croatians in the whole Kansas City area."

Most of them filled his St. John's Catholic Club to watch Croatia take on Denmark to experience a bit of what it must be like in Eastern Europe.

And when Croatia won in the last shot of the shoot out, Croatia may very well have heard the cheers from KCK.

The next watch party will be on Saturday, when Croatia takes on Russia.