Lighten up, Southsiders!

August 31, 2008 at 8:00 pm | Posted in General Football, Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2008 | Leave a comment

For years now, people have been standing in the Southside of Swangard stadium to avoid watching the game with binoculars from behind the running track in the main grandstand.  86ers and Whitecaps fans who like their experience of footy to be raw and unadulterated populate the Southside where the true afficionados of the sport discuss international footy, and especially English footy.  Some people also like to drink a few beers and swear when we miss the net.  We also give the opposite goalkeeper the gears.  This is all pretty typical for  Soccer fans all over the globe.  In European football there are always a group of “ultra” types who stand together and act rough and tough.  

Some fan groups are very well organized.  The Southsiders are not.  In fact, the Southsiders were better organized in the 86ers days, when the group was larger, more vocal, and frankly, more fun.   

Why some fan groups manage to be more organized is a bit of a mystery to me.  For instance, the Timber’s army is a very well organized group.  They get great color, good organized chanting, and seem to be able to get good numbers to travel distances to watch the team.  The Southsiders are NOT well organized.  For one thing, they have little or no relationship to the teams official supporters club.  

One particular set of the Southsiders seems to want to shun the organization of the team, and tend to take a very negative view of the whole thing.  Grumbling and complaining is more important than the team or the game, and some of these guys make it a sport in itself.  This lot threaten to withdraw their support, complain that they are not given enough respect, etc.  They bemoan the presence of children in the Southside, and complain about “soccer moms”.  They think the Southside should be a beer garden for ages 19 and over.  How they hope to grow and become respected as a fan group by whining and complaining constantly is beyond me.  When the Whitecaps ask for cooperation or criticize this group they withdraw and mope like a bunch of wounded puppies.  People are not attracted to that kind of attitude. 

In my view the Southside should not be a beer garden restricted to those above 19 years of age.  For one thing, if you are a true soccer fan, you are there for the game, not the beer.   You can drink beer anywhere, but beer is not a key part of the footy experience.   I like having the kids around, and do not want to ban them from the Southside.  Nor should “soccer moms” be scorned.  I know several people who come to the games with their moms and mother in laws.  Who is to say they are not good fans?  I come with three generations of my family and we all enjoy the Southside experience, swearing and all.  

One thing we don’t like is the throwing of plastic beer cups or other objects on the on the pitch.   In my view, anyone who does this is an idiot and should be ejected immediately.  I fail to see how this can be justified with any excuse.  

Then there is the security issue.  Security should be polite and helpful, but not in your face.  Rules should be set out and should be enforced, but in a respectful manner.  Security is necessary because there are those who drink to excess, which is a problem at all events in the lower mainland from fireworks to sporting events.  There is no doubt that there are a couple of newcomers amongst the security set who just don’t understand the footy fan experience.  These newcomers need to be trained to lighten up.  

It was interesting that people behaved themselves quite well when RCMP were present at the TFC game, yet it was the best game of the year in terms of fan participation, noise and good clean fun.  I suppose that people enjoyed this game because it meant something.  

In any event, the Southsiders must present their image in a positive light in order to have any influence in their destiny.  Being respectful of the club and not just moaning and whining is important, and so is working with the club to create a better ultra experience.  Fighting for the right to throw plastic beer cups, or hoping to exclude kids and “soccer moms” is just a dead end, frankly.  It has to be remembered that if we get the MLS franchise, the whole Southsider dynamic is going to change.  The only way to preserve any of what we have is though positive engagement with the club, good organization and planning.  It is time for the people with brains and organizational skills to step up and be constructive and positive in stead of just grumbling and whining like wounded puppies. 

It time to remember why we go to the games: because we love footy and want to express that love through the support of our local team.

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