Match: Killarney Celtic vs. Portuguese Club of Vancouver (PCOV) Benfica
League: Vancouver Metro Soccer League Division 2 Cup, preliminary round
Date: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Attendance: 11 humans and 2 dogs
Full photo gallery (on Flickr)
Eventful lives have unfortunately meant the inability to attend a VMSL league match during this 2012-13 season. But with the cup season kicking off during a long-weekend, it was time to put the excuses aside and finally get back out to watch some live football for the first time in almost a year.
The Vancouver Metro Soccer League’s Imperial Cup (Prem. and Div. 1 clubs) and Division 2 Cup (Div. 2, Div. 3 and Reserve teams) both begin in early February, and coincide perfectly with the new Family Day holiday here in British Columbia. Scouring the preliminary-round fixtures, nothing from the Imperial Cup tickled our interest, so we decided to take in a match from the Division 2 Cup instead (which is sometimes instead known as the “B” Cup – surely a Freudian reference to breasts if I ever heard one!). We were looking for two things: a nice ground that we haven’t previously been to, and the chance of an inter-divisional upset (i.e. a Div. 3 club beating a Div. 2 side).
After much humming and hawing, we settled upon the majestic sequoia trees of Adanac Park for Killarney Celtic (a Div. 3A team named after the Killarney neighbourhood of southeast Vancouver) versus PCOV Benfica (a Div. 2B squad based in the bohemian Commercial Drive area’s Portuguese Club of Vancouver). Struggling Killarney had finished their league season near the basement of their fourth-tier division, while PCOV Benfica earned a spot near the top of their third-tier group. From the perspective of the Canadian football pyramid, this was a below-par level-8 club hosting a puissant level-7 side. But with the lower-division club playing on its home pitch, and the mightier squad recently pinged by the disappointment of failing to clinch promotion, were we about to witness a cup upset on this unseasonably-sunny winter afternoon?
Given that our chances of stumbling upon a tea hut that serves Bovril at Adanac Park was less likely than Dick Cheney winning a Nobel Peace Prize, we stopped for some hot beverages on the way to the ground. We came across a fantastic little café that doubles as a Middle Eastern grocery store (and triples as a Sufi Islam meditation centre, including Whirling Dervishes). Never a dull day in Vancouver’s Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood.
To its immediate southwest is Taylor Manor, a 98-year-old Tudor Revival building that is currently unused. Constructed in 1915 and originally known as the “Old People’s Home“, its was renamed “Taylor Manor” in 1947 after ex-Vancouver Mayor Louis Taylor, who died in poverty at age 89. The building was added to the Canadian heritage building register in 1993, and – thanks to an anonymous donation of $30 million – is due to become a housing facility for the mentally ill and homeless in 2014. The building, which has gone unused for more than a dozen years, is also rumoured to be haunted.
The only ghosts to be found today, however, were the players exposing their pasty-white winter skin to the elements; and the only people with “issues” were the sad groundhoppers in attendance.
The park itself features a playground for children, as well as an old field house that contains public washrooms and changing rooms. Rather handily for the players of today’s match, the changing facilities were closed and padlocked.
On the other side of the field house was an energetic collection of older men with thick Eastern European accents, noisily chatting away as they reacquainted themselves in the idyllic park settings. We initially thought that they might have been hangers-on from one of today’s two teams, but apparently not.
The northwest of the park hosts three grass throwball pitches, while the southwest houses two grass soccer pitches. Adjacent to the south of the park are the rears of tired-looking, single-family houses; while to the west sits the Adanac Village Co-op, which was opened in 1978.
The referee flipped his coin to determine who would start on which side of the pitch, and the match kicked off to deafening chants of “Stewy Woolverton’s Green and Black Army!” (Okay, I might have embellished that part a weeeee bit.) PCOV Benfica dominated from the very beginning, slotting their first goal just minutes into the match. A second goal soon followed. PCOV continued their relentless bombardment of the northern goal, and it became obvious that we would not witness a cup upset on this day. Luckily the picturesque ground (the north of it, anyway) made up for the one-sided match.
Just prior to half-time, with the scoreline already an unflattering 0-5 for the visitors, a fellow Canadian groundhopper (!!!) pointed out that Killarney only had nine players on the field. A quick count confirmed it – how had I not noticed this earlier? I blame the sequoia trees.
And then – the unthinkable happened. Just as my fellow hopper had considered making an early exit, the lower-division club with a two-man disadvantage and five-goal deficit managed to score. We had a competitive match once again! (Well, not really, but pretending would make staying outside in the cold of the creeping tree shadows for another hour a more bearable thought.)
The Killarney gaffer had made frantic phone calls for player reinforcements just before kick-off upon realizing that he was short of players – and at half-time, a tall fellow turned up to don the green of the home side. The combination of a late first-half goal and a late player arrival gave Killarney some optimism, but it was quickly extinguished as PCOV Benfica scored their sixth goal soon after the match resumed, now pummelling the southern goal adjacent to local houses.
Killarney’s newcomer then scored, taking the scoreline up to 2-6. Perhaps even more respectable was that his girlfriend helped to bring the attendance numbers into double digits.
But an old-firm club Killarney Celtic is not, and their capitulation continued by conceding another pair of goals to the visitors, for a final scoreline of 2-8 (although the league website lists it as 2-9). Killarney’s cup run was snuffed out just as unceremoniously as their league performance, thus beginning their agonizingly-long, seven-month close season. PCOV Benfica advance to the first round proper of the Division 2 Cup, and have been drawn away to fellow Division 2B club Douglas Park Rangers.
I then crossed Boundary Road for a little venture in the suburb of Burnaby’s “Vancouver Heights” neighbourhood, to see if they continued the quirkiness of Hastings-Sunrise. Affirmative.
Rather curiously, people of “The Heights” love murals…
…but hate trees.