“Oh you lucky bastard” I thought to myself when I made a new friend with Vancouver Whitecap season tickets and offered to take me along to a match.
Now, I don't know much about the Vancouver Whitecaps;
- They've been promoted into the Major League Soccer (MLS) this season
- By “promoted” they bought a franchise within the MLS
- They can never be demoted due to playing badly
- Which is lucky because, they've only won 2 games so far this season
- Resulting in sitting firmly bottom of the Western Conference
- Established in 1974
- Their talisman is a French guy called Eric Hassli
- An ambition to be one of the top 25 teams in the world...
|...They have top men working on that. Who? Top... Men (via freerepublic.com)|
Even though I've seen a few MLS games on the TV, the match I was going to see was against the Chicago Fire (who are currently bottom of the Eastern Conference) – why there are two leagues for one major league is beyond me – so with two seemingly crap teams facing each other the only thing I expected from the match was more tumbleweed than supporters.
I arrive to the temporary Empire Field, or should I say covered scaffolding in fact I had no idea it was a makeshift stadium until someone said and with the view of the mountains in the background it was so bad, really!
|Welcome to the Empire|
Entering the grounds, you could feel the atmosphere, not from tumbleweed but from fans... It felt like a carnival, a parade an event of importance – it was incredible, food and beer tents, entertainment stalls, and loads of people in Vancouver Whitecap shirts and scarfs everywhere, that was brilliant but nothing prepared me for the actual match.
Taking our seats, we made it in time to see 2 big floating sausages being pulled into the stadium with Vancouver Whitecap crests hanging from them, as players and officials lined up and the Canadian and American national anthem was being sung – the atmosphere from there on to the final minute was electric.
|I know they love hot dogs, but this is just silly sausages|
There were mascots running around the stands getting the crowd to stamp and clap their hands to a beat, there was band of about 20 people on the back row behind us banging instruments to an international beat. With only 20,000 people there it was definitely the best environment for live sport I think I have ever been to, especially when one half of the stadium chanted “WHITE!” and the other half would reply “CAPS!” - it just sent shivers down your spine.
|My chants of "Pass", "Shoot", "Save" and "You're all doing really rather well" seemed to go down well.|
This was fuelled further by Vancouver scoring in the opening minute to really riled up the crowd, you could sit in the sun with a beer and watch the match, and even though it's slower than the Premiership, it was very watchable and everyone got along, like rugby is now and how football really should be.
Vancouver Whitecaps extinguished the Chicago Fire to win 4-2. Woo!