BC Place Loud and Proud in the Southside Crowd

I’m a Vancouver Southsider but I enjoy the taste of prawn sandwiches too much to give them up. So it was that on Sunday, when the Whitecaps started life in BC Place against the Portland Timbers, I was sitting up in the press box, stuffing popcorn into my face like it was oxygen and watching the game from above.It was a beautiful place to watch the game. BC Place looks like a real soccer venue, with the retractable seats extended near the touch lines and the elegant new plastic pitch showing hardly a trace of the throwball game two days earlier. The only thing missing was one of the soccer teams: the Portland Timbers showed up but, sadly, the Vancouver Whitecaps seemed to have sent eleven statues instead.More important, it sounded like a real soccer venue.I was standing amongst the Southsiders for the last stand at Empire Field two weeks ago and, though I and many of you chanted ourselves hoarse, our noise vanished into the night air with our team’s defense while, to the northwest of us, Seattle’s Emerald City Supporters boomed and echoed. They had a lot more to cheer about, of course, but it was still disheartening. All of the talk was “it’ll be a lot better at BC Place”, but I was not optimistic.

Well, it was better. A lot better. The Timbers Army was assembled through open doors to the left of me, close enough that I could have thrown a beer at them. They’re justly recognized as the best supporters in Major League Soccer and their “our house in the middle of BC” was a big, if geographically inaccurate, hit. But it seemed like they’d just be getting into their groove then, in a dense little wedge in one corner of the vast concrete stadium, there’d be the boom of “WE’RE BLUE! WE’RE WHITE!”

There was no question whose house it really was.

Visually, audibly, the support was a treat to watch from afar. Was it the way the Southsiders were concentrated into a smaller area? Was it the carefully-designed and labouriously-crafted tifo which got the game started off right? Was it the building itself? The megaphones? A sense of occasion, of purpose? Whatever it was, it was hard not to leap to my feet and join in “Boundary Road” as it rang, clear and true, across the stadium. I knew exactly when it was the eighty-sixth minute.

The Southsiders still have room to grow and improve. But too many people to name in both the Southsiders and the Whitecaps have done yeoman’s work getting us this far. There’s been so much growth, so much hope, so much promise over the last year that it was remarkable to see it coming together, to see the tifo and the flags and hear the chants and songs of fans ten times more exuberant than the team they were supporting.

It was much more meaningful than a mere stadium; we’ve seen three of those in twelve months. Stadiums come and go, but Southsiders are forever.

Ben Massey, aka Lord Bob
Follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/Lord_Bob