Better Know A Supporters Group – Southsiders (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Planting the Seed of Soccer Across America: Danny Beerseed
Welcome to the second piece in a new feature on the Free Beer Movement site to expand our coverage of American soccer culture. It's called “Better Know a Supporters Group” just like Steven Colbert's “Better Know a District” from “The Colbert Report“.
As told to the Free Beer Movement by John Know, President of the Southsiders.
MLS Club: Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Stadium: Empire Field (temporary for 2011), BC Place Stadium (permanent home as of October 2011)
Year SG Founded: 1999
Section Name: The Southside
Any other SGs apart of your section?
Not at this time, although we are working on getting some regional sub-groups established on Vancouver Island (The SouthIslanders) and the Okanagan (The OK Insiders). We also have a group of fans sitting on the west side of the stadium in the proverbial “posh” seats who have cheekily named themselves “The Prawnsiders.”
Location of SG in Stadium (section #, side, direction): south end behind the goal out to the SE corner.
The Meaty Questions
What are the origins of your groups’ name?
As many of us are painfully aware, the 1990s and 2000s were dark days for North American football supporters. It was an era when football clubs bought into the philosophy that “family-friendly entertainment” would draw legions of suburban families with young children through the gate.
True football supporters soon found themselves displaced by soccer moms and small children who were more interested in silly mascots and T-shirt contests than the game in front of them.
In 1999, diehard fans of the Vancouver 86ers decided that enough was enough. They abandoned their seats in the grandstand and made a habit of congregating in the pitch-level beer garden behind the goal at the south end of Swangard Stadium. There they knew they could get away with standing through the whole match, pint in hand and voices in full song… all without drawing complaints from the parents mortified by the occasional curse word or rude hand gesture. They generated a real football atmosphere, without the need for computer screen prompting for them to “make some noise”.
At first, the group called themselves “The Carlsberg Crew” – so named for the official sponsor of Swangard's beer garden. The following season, they changed their name to “The Canterbury Court”, as the beer sponsor had changed between seasons. Realizing that the group might have to change its name each and every season, we opted to call ourselves “The Southsiders”.
Our anthem is “Boundary Road” (tune of John Denver’s “Country Roads”), but we’re also known for singing the loudest and most obnoxious “O Canada” you’ve ever heard. We’ve got an arsenal of songs in the repertoire that are older than many of the clubs we’ll be playing against. Just wait, you’ll see!
Why is sitting in the supporters section the “best seat in the house”?
Because we are the atmosphere. We don’t need a scoreboard with video graphics of clapping hands to tell us when to make noise. If I could tell the uninitiated one thing, it’s that they are going to have some of the best laughing fits of their lives in the Southside, because some of the things you end up singing are as much shocking as they are hilarious.
Brag. What makes your SG one of the best supporters groups in MLS?
We are the oldest SG in Canada, and we have been around longer than the vast majority of SGs in the USA. We support the oldest professional club in North America. Aside from a two year break following the NASL collapse, we’ve had a professional team here for 37 straight years. We are a city with proper football history and rivalries. Only our Cascadia cousins in Seattle come close, with Portland being the next runner up.
Greatest game(s) in team history?
– The 1979 semi-final win over the NY Cosmos, and the subsequent championship final win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies are obvious choices. How about…
-Opening BC Place in 1983 v. Seattle Sounders, winning 2-1 in front of 63,000 people!
– A 7–0 demolition of the Tennessee Rhythm in 2000 was a masterpiece to watch.
-The allegedly “semi-pro” Whitecaps (as Canada’s Toronto-centric media would have you believe) defeating “major league” TFC 1-0 in Toronto during the 2008 Nutrilite Canadian Championships. Beating them 2-0 at home the following year was even sweeter!
-Caps defeating Portland 3-2 at PGE Park in the 2009 USL-1 Playoffs – perhaps the most exciting, entertaining football match I’ve ever witnessed.
Predictions for this season?
A first year of important lessons, but good signs of progress. A second place finish in the Cascadia Cup derby with Seattle and Portland. Our first Voyageurs Cup (the above-mentioned Nutrilite Canadian Championship). A heartbreaking second round exit from the playoffs.
Why Major League Soccer? Why North American soccer?
For us, it’s not about Major League Soccer. The Southsiders have supported the Vancouver 86ers / Whitecaps through many different leagues since 1999, with many of us being longtime supporters well before that, point, even going back to the NASL days. The club could be in division two or three and we would still be supporting them. All football jobs and leagues have expiry dates… but true support lasts forever, and your heart goes wherever the club goes. MLS is just the latest chapter in 37 years of Whitecaps history. We’re glad to be there, but we don’t need to see an MLS patch on the jersey sleeve to know our boys in blue and white can compete with the best.
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