Football in Canada


Whitecaps Stadium in Vancouver

Let’s go Whitecaps!

Last week I spent some time in Canada playing sports sims, only to return to Blighty to spend the last two days writing about nothing other than football and guns. How manly am I? During my time in the land of Mounties and Maple Syrup, EA were kind enough to take me and a couple of other hacks to watch a football game between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the L.A. Galaxy.

If you’ve never been to a football game in Canada, I can report that it’s a rather surreal experience – especially if you’ve ever been to a football game in England. Or mainland Europe. Or even South America. It’s a far more mannered and serene experience, if you can believe that – so much so that I took a few notes at the game. Here are some things you might not know about the beautiful game and the way it’s played in Canada:

1) The game begins with fireworks. And cheerleading. And marching bands. And then two – count ’em, TWO – national anthems. It does not, however, begin on time, unlike in England, where you could boil an egg in the four minutes before kick off and still have runny yolk!
2) The players in the MLF fall down at the slightest touch. After a while you stop yelling ‘soft’ at every tackle because you realise they all are. And you’re getting weird looks from local fans.
3) The Vancouver Whitecaps’ scoring ability is mostly dictated by how inept the defence they’re facing is (admittedly the LA Galaxy’s defence was pretty shit)
4) Whenever their goalie takes a free kick, they go sssssssss boom! As though a bomb with a fuse just exploded.
5) When this happens, Johnny Minkley’s face does this:

Johnny Minkley is perplexed

Er, yeah. Right. Hmmm…

6) Whenever the other goalie from the away side takes a free kick their fans yell, “You Fat Bastard” even though he isn’t fat. He isn’t even portly.
7) When one of their players is tackled the home fans yell “Hey! Did ya get his wallet?!!” at the player who tackled him. They don’t call him a c**t.
8) When the referee rules against their side, they yell “what the heck, dude?” . They don’t call him a c**t.
9) One of the Whitecaps players is named Bonjour. That means hello in French. Yes, there is a player in Canada named Hello.
10) When David Beckham takes a corner or a free kick, everyone boos him – while taking his picture. They do not infer his parents weren’t married when they had him.
11) David Beckham wears pink boots these days. Pink!

David Beckham

Behold the mighty pink boots of Golden Balls!

12) The Whitecaps stadium is half full on match day – a fact that is cunningly concealed by the use of canopies.
13) D. Beckham can still cross the ball like nobody’s business.
14) You can buy beer in the stadium and drink it in your seat. You can also bring popcorn into the venue. Popcorn, beer and football. Sounds like it should be bliss, right? Well it’s just weird!

All the UK hacks walked away from the game scratching our heads, although we’d had a very lovely time. We couldn’t get over how polite Canadian fans were. Then Alex Dale from Future pointed out that maybe they weren’t polite – maybe back home we’re just unbelievably rude. He’s probably right, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to change after August…

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