Sometime in the early 80’s in a small mining town in the B.C. interior 2 sets of eyes were staring at me through the wooden fence. “Hello” one of them said in a strange accent which I would later learn was Cornish. “Why are you wearing girl’s shoes” was my first question. I had just met my new neighbours who recently arrived from the isle of England. Their father started the first soccer program in the young town’s 15 year history. All the town’s kids now had a summer activity that kept them in shape for the all important hockey season. Throughout my youth that what soccer was: A way to stay in shape for hockey.
Soccer was a sport that was never taken seriously among the tough rugged athletic kids of this mountain town. We played games like Atari’s Pele’s Soccer only to see the amazing firework graphics when you scored. We heard of the Vancouver Whitecaps and all the magic of the NASL but none of us ever saw a game. It was all foreign.
That changed for me one afternoon when the Atari was turned off and one of our 13 cable channels was showing a match between the Calgary Kickers and the Edmonton Brickmen. What is this? Canadians playing soccer? An all Canadian soccer league? We are a part of the world game? What an exciting idea! Soccer became real that day.
Later in young adulthood I would find myself living a few Skytrain stops from Swanguard stadium. Excited to be living in a city with a real pro soccer team I would attend as many games as possible. Although I flirted with early Saturday morning rituals watching Arsenal, Chelsea and Crystal Palace nothing felt as good as being in the stadium. I was never a part of a supporters group in Vancouver because I never felt like they were my team. I never planted deep roots in that city. After moving from Vancouver, the MLS started their rapid expansion and there was a Canadian team on television again. Toronto FC could be watched coast to coast on CBC and the A-League’s Montreal Impact had a similar deal with Radio Canada.
I had heard of the Voyageur’s Cup but didn’t pay attention until it became a group stage style tournament between the Impact, TFC, and the Whitecaps. This trophy means more to me as a supporter than a league title because of it’s history, because it was a trophy literally made by the Canadian supporters in Canadian soccer’s darkest hours. It’s a symbol of Canadian resiliency.
In 2010 I moved to the city of Ottawa. Soccer starved there were trips to Montreal and Toronto to see their respective club teams and our National team. In 2011 Capital City FC had their first and only year in the regional semi pro CSL. Finally a team to call my own? Just as I was falling in love the team who had a very successful first year, (making it to the league finals) closed up shop due to issues with the CSL and it’s management. Where would I get my fix?
In June 2011 the NASL announced it had awarded an expansion team to an ownership group in Ottawa. Real professional soccer in Ottawa! This has not been a reality since the Canadian Soccer League of the 1980’s when Ottawa had the Intrepid. A true pro team to call our own. A stadium to go to and participate in the match instead of just being a consumer watching tv. Finally an opportunity to be a part of the match day experience.
I had met like minded people at Capital City matches and through the Voyageurs. Others who wanted nothing more than a team to support in their city. Bonds were formed and with those bonds a conversation on how we could build something unique for Ottawa. A group for soccer lovers of every age, gender, income level, sexual orientation, language and cultural background there is in this wonderfully diverse city. A group where creativity can flourish.
What was my reason for wanting to start The Stony Monday Riot with a few of my friends? Because I see a Canadian soccer identity being developed. A soccer culture with songs and rituals that are unique to the Canadian soccer experience. In the future I see a strong National team supported by a Canadian National league. I see clubs from every province in a multi division pyramid. I want to be a part of this happening. We can be a part of this happening. This is just the beginning. This is our home.