Ground: Andy Livingstone Park
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia (Google Maps)
Capacity (seated): Unknown (there are three rows of concrete stairs between the western pitch and the field house)
Full photo gallery (on Flickr)
I’ve noticed a recent trend in the Vancouver Metro Soccer League: new clubs with names rooted in their geographic location.
To me, this is a paramount part of being a proper football club. It might be immaterial, but I don’t think I could ever respect a club that doesn’t have its community in its club name (Arsenal! Rangers! Celtic!), no matter how low down the footballing pyramid that club might be.
I appreciate that many clubs in the lower divisions of Metro Leagues aren’t actually “clubs” – they’re merely teams, and are often only assembled as a chance for a bunch of guys to get some exercise. In fact, team names at this level are often simply tongue-in-cheek puns that shouldn’t be taken seriously.
And while that may be fine for teams that compete within social sports organizations (such as Urban Rec), I’m not sure if I’m happy with silly team names in the Vancouver Metro Soccer League – a competition which is older than most of the players who participate in it.
So I was pleased to see that joining the ranks of (formerly) Sapperton Rovers and Yaletown FC was Gastown FC, which would compete in the VMSL Division 3 this season. I missed their first match, but when the fixture gods allowed me to attend their VMSL home opener at Andy Livingstone Park, I knew I had to witness this piece of “history” (assuming the team is still around in two years, that is!).
First of all: my photos from this match are crap. It was an evening match; and as I discovered after arrived at the ground, my tripod was broken.
The match itself was an uneven contest: Gastown FC delivered a 4-0 rout to the equally-new (pub) team Blarney Stone FC, scoring all four of their “Gastown derby” goals in the first half. Tall centre-backs are a prized asset in the eighth-division of Canadian club football, as are energetic strikers who don’t whince at the thought of 50-50 challenges near goal. Gastown FC had excellent chemistry, and their size and hunger were simply too much for the newly-formed pub team based just down the road to handle.
BC Place’s new “crown of thorns” roof could just barely be seen over the top of the trees in the background, and electronically-powered SkyTrain cars roared past the pitch on their journey to and from the Stadium-Chinatown station.
Andy Livingstone Park, which features the (formerly?) largest artificial turf pitch in North America, is situated between the Gastown and Chinatown/Downtown Eastside neighbours, and is only about 300 metres from BC Place, the new (and former) home of Vancouver Whitecaps. On the pitch immediately east, Rainforest FC and the Caribbean All-Stars (cough) were contesting a VMSL Masters (O-40) Division 3 match.
Highlight of the night: I probably shouldn’t laugh at poverty and some poor individiual’s misfortune, but seeing a bottle/can collector pinch the plastic water bottle of Gastown FC’s goalkeeper from out of his goal during the match was something I shall never forget. Classic!
Lowlight of the match: arriving to the ground and needing to take a slash, I discovered that the public washroom is only open during a few (daylight) hours each day. Thus I had to take a more “antiquated” approach to the situation.
I shall leave a longer review of Andy Livingstone Park as a football venue for another day (likely a daytime match, for photos will be far superior). But for now, congratulations to Gastown FC on their founding, and good luck to them in their inaugural VMSL season. Up The Iron!
Gastown FC website – Recap: Gastown F.C. 4 – 0 Blarney Stone F.C.