Tip of the cap to Whitecaps fans
A group of Vancouver Whitecaps fans called the Southsiders showed their support in 2011 during the Cascadia Summit exhibition game against the Seattle Sounders in Tukwila, WA. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)
The Vancouver Whitecaps have been a bit of an enigma this season in Major League Soccer — showing us everything from dominating performances and moments of brilliance to lackadaisical displays and plenty of imperfections. Something we’ve seen not only this season, but through the many years of their existence.
On Saturday will be a celebration of a somewhat confusing 40-year history, with different ownership groups, several different incarnations of a club crest and a whole bunch of different leagues.
We’ll also get to cheer numerous former players who will be inducted into the Whitecaps’ Ring of Honour this season.
But what won’t get celebrated enough are the fans who have supported the club through the years. The supporters have continued to cheer on Vancouver through the various manifestations of the team, and through thick and thin.
These supporters were there on a cloudy Sunday afternoon at Empire Stadium on May 5, 1974. Perhaps it was a seven-year-old kid like myself watching their first live soccer match in the newly opened BC Place Stadium on June 20, 1983.
It’s also a group of fans that came together to cheer on the Vancouver 86ers in the beer garden behind the south-end goal, calling themselves “the Carlsberg Crew.” After a few name changes, that group is now known as the Vancouver Southsiders.
For 40 years, Vancouver (and technically Burnaby during the Swangard Stadium days) has hosted professional soccer and those fans mentioned above, along with the Rain City Brigade, Curva Collective and many smaller supporters groups. To the countless fans who voice their support and to those with no voice left, you have supported soccer teams in Vancouver, and I raise a toast to you.
The fans are what make this Vancouver soccer team great. The players, coaches and management obviously play a role, but the fans are the ones who make going to a soccer match here in the Lower Mainland a great experience.
While we cheer on a somewhat confusing Whitecaps history, I would like to celebrate you, the fans, for helping make a truly memorable 40 years of soccer in Vancouver.