Victoria Day Weekend

All in all, it’s a world away from the hubbub of life in the Lower Mainland; and that’s one of the things I so enjoy about living here.

One of the regular reminders of BC’s more recent heritage, well more recent by Brit standards, is the Victoria Day public holiday. Celebrating the birthday of the long departed Queen Victoria has been part of Canadian life since before Federation and maybe the original intent has been lost or at least diluted as the country becomes more multi-cultural. The Victoria Day long weekend now seems to be known as the first camping expedition or maybe first barbecue of the summer.

The day off work is dependent upon the Province or Territory mandating a Statutory holiday so although most of Canada breaks out a tent, there are some places, mainly back east where you’ll possibly find yourself at work. Of course there’s also Quebec’s approach which is to celebrate the 1837 rebellion. Ah, life in a slightly disunited kingdom.

But what to do on a relatively sunny long weekend? Pursuing a couple of things I like to do was my aim, and it turned out rather well.

Since relocating from the UK I’ve tried to get in to North American sports. I’ve been to a NHL and CFL game as well as minor league baseball. I’ve watched NFL again (first time since the 1980’s Channel 4 coverage) and I’m afraid nothing sets the pulse racing the way football, the real football, the beautiful game, does. Having said that I’ve also tried to get into MLS and have struggled with the out-of-sync summer season. However, with no World Cup and no Euro’s to distract me, this is the year of the Whitecaps.

I’d arranged to go to the Whitecaps game, a Cascadian derby vs the high flying Portland. What made this event rather more special was being able to go pitch side during the warm up. I was one of the works draw winners that gave me the pre-game experience at the Portland match. It turned out to be rather fun. BC Place is a smashing stadium and being down on the pitch (turf) gave me a whole new perspective, not just of the stadium, but also on the fans. It’s been well documented and I can confirm that the Pacific Northwest rather likes football. Add to that, that the standard of football is improving and the whole experience becomes more appealing.

An entertaining game finished all square and was a fair advert for the game over here. I’ve tickets for a few games this season so, come the end of the year I may well finally embrace sport in my own brave new world.

As a compete change from football, the sunshine also gave me a chance for a social scoot. A few years back I’d ridden around Barnston Island when out with a biker buddy. This time I’d be heading back with my wife on our Vespa’s. the island seems to have been named after a former Hudson’s Bay Company employee and apart from farmland and a Reserve, there’s nothing on the island. Why go there? Simple. The ferry crossing. The ferry is nothing more than a barge strapped to a tug. That’s it. Cars drive on, back off and vice versa. It’s rustic, functional and fun. The crossing must take all of two minutes, and is free of charge.

Barnston Island appears to be popular with cyclists, particularly families and people out for a short hike. I can certainly see the attraction for leisure cyclists. There are very few cars to contend with and on a warm sunny day, circumnavigating the island (all 10km) has to be a pretty relaxing thing to do. There are no amenities on the island so its very much a case of bring your own snacks or picnic. All in all, it’s a world away from the hubbub of life in the Lower Mainland; and that’s one of the things I so enjoy about living here. It really doesn’t take long to escape in to a peaceful, place and it doesn’t have to be the wilderness.

After a very leisurely scoot around the island it was back to the mainland to find a coffee shop and refuel before heading home. I sure there are those that would consider a trip to Barnston Island pointless. For me, it’s actually a joy to explore my new home and that’s enough. Sometimes the point is, there is no point. It’s about disconnecting, shaking up the routine and recharging. Back in the UK I didn’t disconnect enough. In BC, people seem to get it far more.

So that was the Victoria Day long weekend. No camping, no barbecue, just reconnecting. It was time to reconnect with football, with nature and with family, all made possible by the respect for a long departed sovereign.

Champions

I’d recently been reminded that Charlton had finished in a lower league position in every season since 2003/4 when a more than creditable 7th had been achieved.

It would be very remiss of me not to mention that this year, 20011/12, Charlton finished higher than the previous season, and that higher position has meant promotion as champions.

Finally the Valley faithful have something to celebrate. So, with two weeks of the season left, the team can relax, job done. The management can allow themselves a few moments to bask in the joy and get back to planning for next seasons assault on the Championship.

I had the privilege of being at the Valley at the end of September 2011 and it was obvious that the team had been transformed, in personnel, in belief, in skill. A different Charlton and hopefully one that sets the foundation for future success.

Congratulations Addicks, you’re on the way back up.

CAFC – a season to savour

After a few short summaries on how the Addicks season has progressed, the “another great result” format is wearing thin. More league and cup wins followed by a couple of draws haven’t dampened my enthusiasm from afar, but finding new superlatives and praise is certainly getting harder as the weeks and games go by.

Despite being restricted to glimpses of games on the BBC, through sites like not606, I can still feel fully involved in this seasons promotion bid, and that’s a good thing. And it’s just as well not606 exists as coverage of teams outside of the premier league is, well, somewhat lacking to say the least. Having said that, what I do find is an absence of gossip and other premiership drivel. It’s actually rather refreshing not to have to endure reading about the mindless antics of the well remunerated elite in the so called best league in the world.

Life in the 3rd division is all about the game, it’s all that matters and I’m thankful for that. But would I want to remain taking n 3rd tier footie? The Brit in me responds with a resounding no. From what I’ve seen, League 1 brings at times slapstick defending, neck aching inducing long balls and parklife finishing. So, I’m left with the tension that exists between the desire for a higher standard of footie and the knowledge that when the coveted land of the prem comes once again, CAFC news will be crowded out once more by the tabloid exploits of “enter big name of the day here” rather than being non-existent. Seems like a no win thing really. But that’s all part of supporting a club rather than being sucked in to the world of the trophy hunter. Maybe, that’s something to explore another day.

In the meantime I’ll look for new angles on what I hope to be Charlton’s promotion season,

Oh, and if I really want to take in League 1 level footie I can head for the nearest MLS game.

CAFC continue the roll

Can the smile get any wider? Another week, another win as the reborn Addicks claim another 3 points at Brentford.

BWP celebrates another goal

Pic from TeamTalk

When I left the UK the final London derby I saw was against Spurs. It was the game that consigned Charlton to the Championship. It was a miserable game.

This London derby, 2 leagues lower than the Premiership, seems far from a classic, but winning when playing below par at places where previous results had been poor is a sign that the this is team that wants Championship football next season.

Next week it’s Huddersfield who are undefeated in the league for 46 games (they’ve lost the important play-off games though!). This will be another big test of the Addicks promotion credentials.  I can’t wait.

CAFC see off Halifax in the FA Cup

My breath was held. Games like this against lower or non-league opposition have time after time proven Charlton’s downfall. To the more seasoned Addick, this game was 1-0 Halifax certainty.

Halifax vs CAFC

Danny Hollands slots in CAFC's third. Pic from the Guardian website

But this season is different and the Addicks continue to score for fun. Another 4 goals, that’s 19 in the last 5 games, put paid to any giant killing hopes and Charlton are a game away from a possible money spinning third round tie against one of the current ‘big boys’. Check out the match report.

I’m supposed to be becoming Canadian, but I’m afraid that I still don’t get the idea of an 80 game season that doesn’t have a winner. So, sorry Canucks, you’ll have to wait a little longer to gain my affection. Oh, and as for the Whitecaps, I seriously hope the second MLS season is an improvement on this one. The fanbase is certainly there, the enthusiasm is too, Unfortunately the defence has been absent on far too many occasions and the ability to find the back of the regularly has also been a feature of the season. Amazingly Whitecaps end their MLS debut year with 2 of the 4 goals of the season. If only these flew in every week,