FanPost

Here's to You Willie!


Dionne Warwick might have had to ask the question, but since 1974, back in the halcyon days of the NASL, the Vancouver Whitecaps have certainly known the way to San Jose.

Just as the 2012 version of the blue and white are preparing for Saturday's tilt against the Earthquakes, soccer scribes too are busy combing stats, scouring data off the web, and talking to sources. Amid all this diligence, dedication and intrepid late-night wordsmithing, the one word that lingers in my ears throughout is "nonchalance".

I'd like to head off the hate mail at this point by stating categorically here and now that I'm not calling out Eric Hassli, Sebastien Le Toux, Davide Chiumiento, or [insert favourite WCFC roster member here] for their recent run of sub-optimal play.

No, to understand what I'm on about, you need to go back beyond the beginning of the season. Hell, you've got to go back beyond the start of the current millennium. Perhaps one of the only benefits to reaching middle age, other than the odd grey hair and the suave-looking bifocals, is the fact that you wind up with a fairly sizable repository of memories. While I might not remember to renew my car insurance on time, I sure as hell remember seeing Georgie Best making 11 guys look like sacks of shit for 90 minutes at a time.

It was 1979, the year that the Caps went on an incredible run, defying all the odds as "the village of Vancouver" downed the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Giants Stadium in the NASL Soccer Bowl that year. But somewhere along that journey, at Spartan Stadium in San Jose to be precise, Whitecaps fans were witness to a brief moment where nonchalance intersects to coexist with the sublime:

It's late in the second half. The match is knotted 1-1, and the Caps are down to 10 men. Vancouver wins a corner, and Scottish winger Willie Johnston, ball in hand, strolls toward the corner flag to set the ball. As he approaches, a fan in the front row -- which can't be more than a yard or so from the touch line -- offers Johnston a brew. The winger casuallly takes a good swig, sets the bottle down, places the ball, and whips it into the box where Peter Daniel heads home the late winner. Delightful!

It was indeed a different era -- a simpler time, one less encumbered with the business that is MLS today. It was a period where one could get away with nonchalance. I'm certain that Don Garber would blow out his carotid artery were he to witness Chiumiento doing the same this Saturday evening. Hmm, I wonder if Dede prefers Molson's...

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