Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vancouver whoops it up for return of big-league soccer

VANCOUVER : Long-time Whitecaps fan Colin Clarke was drinking in the atmosphere at Oscar's Pub Saturday, match-day watering hole for the team's diehard Southsiders.

"It's a very big day, one I never thought would come again," said Clarke, 58, sitting with his wife, Brenda. "It's very nostalgic. This club means a lot to me. I hope this really takes hold and it's here forever."

As fans in the packed pub sang, Clarke said he was looking forward to the Whitecaps' return to top-league soccer in their Major League Soccer home opener against Toronto FC at Empire Field.

Clarke was a photographer for the original Whitecaps supporters club and went to the team's first game in 1974. 

He was on the 25-hour round-trip charter to New Jersey in 1979, when the Whitecaps beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies to win the North American Soccer League's Soccer Bowl.

"I have a lot of friends amongst the old players," he added. "My wife and I got married in Carl Valentine's backyard in 1993."

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