Date Posted: June 3, 2011
Print Edition: May 27, 2011
One way or another, the NHL season will come to a close rather shortly. Vancouverites need to fill the void somehow, and pub-hopping is hard on the liver. Shocking as it may seem, though, the Canucks are not Vancouver’s only sporting franchise. One other team we have to focus on is the Whitecaps.
While Vancouver has had a team called the Whitecaps since 1974, it has gone through a few incarnations to get to where it is today. Originally, it was a member of the North American Soccer League, which is no longer in existence. From 1986-2010, it was a member of the Canadian Soccer League. In 2010, though, it moved up to the Major League Soccer category. This may be interesting to even non-sports fans: David Beckham, husband of Posh Spice, plays in the same league.
Their season isn’t going terribly well at this point – their last five games have garnered them three losses and two ties. However, soccer games offer an atmosphere that is unique in the sporting world, at least in Vancouver. While there are die-hard Canucks fans, and even die-hard Lions fans, soccer fans are a different breed altogether. Fan clubs dominate the spectator scene. These clubs play such an important role in a soccer team’s culture, in fact, that images of the Whitecaps main fan club, the Southsiders, are used in official promotional materials for the team itself.
Another Whitecaps club, called La Doce, follows a Latin American tradition of soccer fandom. This includes drumming and long cheering songs. This is pretty impressive considering they’ve been a fan club for less than two seasons. The Southsiders, who’ve been around much longer, have many chants and songs of their own, which they even distribute online. Due to their seniority, the Southsiders have numerous partnerships that enhance the gaming experience for members. They get discounts on Whitecap merchandise, and even at two local pubs – Oscar’s Pub & Grill for home games and Doolin’s Irish Pub for away games. Further deals can be found on their website, including everything from road trip packages to employee pricing on tires!
Part of the Whitecaps franchise is the women’s team. The league they belong to is the W-League, which is the second tier of women’s soccer in North America. Their statistics look a little bit better than their male counterparts: they placed second in the Western Conference last year. Their season runs concurrent to the men’s team, and costs less at $12 dollars a ticket. Tickets for the men’s league, while more expensive, cost under $50 a piece. While season ticket sales are long past, holders regularly sell off excess tickets on Craigslist, making this an affordable night for those suffering from post-NHL season withdrawal or just in search of a fun night out.
If you’re planning on attending a game, remember that these aren’t the President’s Trophy winners. There’s no ice to throw salmon on to, and Michael Buble is unlikely to put in an appearance. Focus on the atmosphere – grab some tickets in the Southsider zone (sections 248-254), learn some songs, or bring along a drum and join the La Doce crowd. Game on.