This past weekend, I found myself caravaning with a friend, three boys and a yappy little lap dog to the uncharted territory of Gates Park, Port Coquitlam for a U13 Metro match. As co-pilot on the ride, I was able to navigate my pal, Jas, toward a bit of a shortcut up Gaglardi, onto Como Lake, and he took over navigational duties once we hit Mariner Way. Suffice it to say that getting there was indeed half the battle. A little co-operation, collaboration, and it was job done conquering the long and winding road.
Stretching my legs as the boys warmed up, it struck me that our journey through the season was no less GPS-worthy, and therefore memorable.
There was the 4-0 pasting that the team suffered to open the year, in a match that had even the most vocal of supporters sitting in silence by halftime. And later, the solid 4-2 win in the torrential downpour at the thankfully covered Percy Perry Stadium.
Then there are the events that just stand out, regardless of what the score might have been.
Arriving a little early for a match on the seedier side of downtown, the first thing we encountered was a wino getting into a heated war of expletives with one of the defenders playing in a men's match - and the skillful handing of the situation by the ref, who told the rubby in no uncertain terms that he was about to abandon the match, and "...all these guys behind me are going to be coming after you!" The offensive interloper shuffled off quickly, leaving the players in peace to swear at each other instead.
There was the match where the opposing coach got tossed for pressing his point with the ref too far. And the game where our star keeper tried to hop the fence to retrieve a ball, did a face plant instead, only to pop up with a huge "thumbs up" gesture to the bench. I've never seen our coach go from sheet white to almost giddy elation in two seconds.
And of course, on our trip to the Island there was the bus driver with a face not at all out of place in a San Quentin yard riot, but a heart of gold as he took the time to wave back to the little boy on the bike with training wheels and streamers as he pedaled his way over the crosswalk.
Finally, there was the guy I ran into at last week's match - we talked footy, Whitecaps, youth soccer, and the like. With him was his daughter... maybe three or four... who was more interested in hitting the playground than discussing the intricacies of why the Caps might wish to abandon the 4-3-3. She was kinda shy, and didn't really know what to make of a bearded guy who wasn't Santa. She didn't want to give me a high-five goodbye, but thought it might be ok if her stuffy, Coco the Monkey, did it instead.
As the stuffed simian and I met palm to palm, I caught a glimpse of a bright smile on her face, half-hidden behind dad's protective grasp.
Like I said, on any given Saturday in Metro Vancouver, it's the journey that counts most.