In July of 1990 I sat on the bleachers of the Francis Road Hugh Boyd football pitch and watched history unfold. You remember, the green painted bleachers that ascended about 5 rows and were stripped of paint due to poor up-keep? The ones with massive screws that had become loose and created a sense of uncertainty bellow your arse? I was 10 and my Dad was coaching Canada in the Nations Cup Final vs. Scotland. The legendary Scotland that had won eight consecutive men's open Nations Cup Finals. The Scotland that heralded the outstanding Arnie Mears. The unstoppable Scotland destined for their 9th consecutive championship.
Canada were doomed.
I treasured that weekend as I was employed as waterboy, kit-man, mascot and superfan rolled into a my short, skinny frame. The lads on the Canada squad were brilliant. They made me feel part of the clan and I'm forever grateful to each of them. It's always a pleasure to see them in the beer garden these days and say hello. They'll always hold a special place in my heart.
I digress. The final was a spectacle. Fans and fellow players hugged the touchline to the point of creating a human cage around the pitch. I had to stand to catch a glimpse of the action as the bench became increasingly wobbly with every movement. My Dad patrolled the touchline in his white polo and short shorts while sporting a classic handle bar moustache. The players dug as deep as I've ever seen a squad dig - all 18 of them. As people that have played in the tournament know, it's a war of attrition. Five games in three days is punishing. The heat of July is torcherous. The fact that many havent played in two months is gruelling. All fuelled by a Saturday night in the beer garden makes it unparalleled. The reward - epic. Canada plowed their way to victory that Sunday afternoon overcoming adversity and little faith. They are legends of the Nations Cup. No team has overcome anything comparable to the indestructible force that was Scotland of the 1980's. It's one of my Dad's greatest memories, one that will live with him for eternity. It's the weekend that made me believe that British Columbia has genuine football talent.
The Nations Cup is the greatest weekend tournament I've ever been a part of. The football is always entertaining but the comradarie is what makes it so special. Seeing people you haven't seen in a year, friends you retain a special bond with and footballers of the past, present and future is truly delightful. The football fraternity unites in unison to celebrate the greatest sport to ever grace our planet.
And it's right in our own backyard.
Enjoy the spectacle folks - and be sure to say hello.