So in case you did not know we have been running a contest this week with the prize being something special donated by Canadian international Patrice Bernier. The rules of the contest are simple really, all you have to do is tell us your best story as a fan of the Canadian national team. It can be anything from how you came to be a supporter, your best game experience, or how far you have gone for the national team.
You have until Sunday November 12th at 11:59 PM to enter this contest so there is still plenty of time to do so and all you have to do is email your entry to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the deadline passes we will post the top 3 submissions and then we will announce the winner of the contest before the kickoff to the final game of the year at BMO Field when Canada takes on St. Kitts. Hopefully that game will be in full celebration mode with Canada advancing on Friday so entering this contest could make that game even better for you.
If you want an example of what we are looking for in this contest myself and Duncan have taken a few minutes to do our own stories up so look for them after the jump.
Here is Duncan's tale:
So far, I've been to 5 Canada games, there's been nothing really remarkable happened there, and the fact that they've all been at Bmo Field, a mere 45 minute walk from my home means there's no real tales of hardship and suffering, of really earning my stripes as a Canada supporter. Instead my story revolves around games I didn't go to, and around Darlington legend Jason de Vos.
The team I support back in England is Darlington, a perennial division 4 team, currently a non league team and apparently on the brink of going out of business. In their first 113 years of existence there had never been any Darlington player play in an international match. Then in 1996, they signed a young Canadian by the name of Jason de Vos. In the summer of 97 I moved to Toronto and was living in the Annex, and it was announced Canada would be playing Iran. This was before the internet and smartphones and all that, so i was blissfully ignorant of the fact that De Vos made his debut until my parents called the next day and asked if I went. He became the first ever Darlington international, he became Darlington legend jason de Vos, as he will always be referred to in these parts. I'm pretty sure I would have been the only Darlington fan there to witness that history, I lived a 15 minute WALK away from varsity stadium, and I didn't go. Still to this day my biggest sporting regret, and the reason I've gone to every Canada game I was logistically and financially able to since then.
The second time Canada REALLY impressed themselves on my immigrant mind was the 2000 Gold Cup. I was half interestedly watching on tv as Canada equalised against mexico, and then in overtime, Richard Hastings scored the golden goal winner, and i really surprised myself with the vigour of how hard I jumped off my couch, my first moment of Canadian patriotism. It was capped a few days later when they beat Columbia in the final, Darlington Legend (though a Dundee united player by then) Jason de Vos scoring the game winner, and receiving the trophy. I don't remember the exact words, but I remember him tweeting fairly recently about how Jack Warner was seething about having to present the trophy to Canada, an image that always makes me smile.
Here is my story:
My tale of being a fan really begins with you knowing that I have a very strong Dutch background and as such I had always cheered for the Netherlands in major competitions. Add to that the fact that when I was growing up the only TV we had was what came from an antenna so really the only soccer I was able to watch on tv until around the time I was in high school was the World Cups. When my family moved to our current location we finally got satellite and my eyes were opened to the world of European soccer. The Dutch in me instantly became a fan of Manchester United since not only were they on TV most weekends but they were also the club of my favourite Dutch player at the time, Rudd van Nistelrooj. For the next few years it was all about European soccer for me. This all changed the day that Toronto FC aired on CBC and I was able to watch soccer being played on my own continent. I could now watch more then France 98 or Soccer Saturdays on Sportsnet but to be honest watching the MLS at that time never really got me hooked and I would not have called myself a fan at first.
My real fan journey began when I was really bored having finished school and not having a job yet. I wanted to do a lot more writing but getting into covering Manchester United just seemed like a poor choice since everyone and their dog already does that. Instead I decide that I was sick of that whole glory hunter label and would focus my efforts on starting to support the teams in my own back yard. I have been to TFC games in their early years but never managed to go to a Canada game. I decided this spring that from now on when I had the chance to go to any game TFC or Canada I would take that chance. It was clear to me that watching the game live in person was so much better then even watching the best team on tv.
My first game for Canada was the friendly against Ecuador. When I went it was just me and my brother not knowing anyone but we had the time of our lives. The late equalizer gave me a feeling that I had never had before in my life. There was this feeling of pride and connection to the team that I had yet to find with any other sports team in the world. It gave me a new obsession, being a Voyageurs and supporting Les Rouges was now in my blood. I have since been back to BMO to watch Canada play in both of their home qualifiers. These times though I managed to discover that Canada has some great supporters and they are some of the best people to party with. My times at Maro proved to me that I was now part of a great group and that there is something special about Canadian fans. For the rest of my life I will be on a quest to try and get that feeling only my country playing my favourite sport can give me. The only way my real craving can ever be satisfied will be by going to the World Cup to see Canada play.