As we await the return of the Vancouver Whitecaps to MLS action, and collectively ponder the Gold Cup shenanigans of Flourent Malouda, our Supporters Week series continues as today’s focus shifts to, well, the south side of BC Place and the aptly named Vancouver Southsiders. Geography aside, there’s certainly much more to the group than their location off the pitch.
Per the Southsiders’ home page, the group formed in 1999, back when the Whitecaps were known as the Vancouver 86ers,. During 86ers’ home matches, a pitch-level beer garden was situated at the south end of Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium, making for a perfect congregation spot for local soccer lovers that made sure the away team was within earshot.
As the 86ers evolved to the present day Whitecaps, the Southsiders grew in number (now sitting at over 1,200 members), and continued to occupy their space at the south end of every Vancouver soccer match, regardless of venue.
We reached out to former Southsiders board member and Ombudsman Scott Misfeldt with questions on his experience in the supporters’ group. Thanks for participating, Scott!
86 Forever: How long have you been a supporter?
Scott Misfeldt: Since MLS, but as a kid I was a fan and supporter back in the NASL ‘Caps days.
86: What factors played a role in you joining the group, and what keeps you coming back?
SM: The Southsiders were my only option of a supporter group to join initially, but it’s the friendships I’ve developed that have kept me coming back.
86: What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a supporter?
SM: The friendships, the banter, and the freedom to stand up and yell, scream, and sing to support the boys!
86: Are there any aspects of being a supporter that you find tedious?
SM: Some of the politics that goes on between the club and the supporters’ groups can be a pain. Otherwise, maybe just the monotony of some of the songs.
86: Do you join the “‘Caps on Tour”? If so, where have you travelled? Would you go again?
SM: I’ve been to Seattle, Portland, and San Jose, and would absolutely go again! Road trips are the most fun you can have as a supporter.
86: Do you think smoke would enhance or detract from your experience as a supporter?
SM: Meh, it doesn’t enhance it, that’s for sure.
86: What do you think the league and the club front office should play in dictating what is acceptable behaviour for supporters? How far outside the stadium gates should that extend?
SM: Both the league and club should have some say, for sure, but it really shouldn’t extend beyond the stadium grounds.
86: Is the leadership of your supporters' group open to suggestions or ideas, even if it’s contrary to current processes?
SM: Somewhat. The group is definitely open to ideas to improve the fan experience, though it sometimes comes down to one idea at a time.
86: Would you ever consider switching groups?
SM: No, I’m happy where I am and with what we do.
86: If you could improve your supporters’ group, what would you do and how would you do it?
SM: Figure out a way to get others more involved, and freshen up our song sheet!
86: Would you join forces with one (or both) of the other supporters’ groups, to improve the atmosphere at ‘Caps games?
SM: Oh, for sure!
86: How did being on the Board of Directors for the Southsiders affect your views of the supporters’ group?
SM: It definitely opened my eyes to the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes, to make everything happen, on game day.unt of work
86: As a parent, how much communication do you have with your children about some of the less “savoury” language used at ‘Caps games?
SM: My boys were 3 & 4 when they started going, so we just taught them different words than what was being yelled. “You like mustard!”, was what they thought it was (rather than, “You fat bastard!”) for a couple of years. Or, “We’re Blue! We’re White! We’re ‘really’ dynamite!” and, “Burn the ‘entire’ lot!” did well to replace the F-word.
We talked about appropriate behaviour and language for different places: in libraries we whisper, and at the stadium we can sing and chant as loud as we want. I just don’t want them to repeat choice language at home, school, or while playing sports.
Scott: thanks again for taking the time to answer some questions, and open up on what it’s like to be part of the Southsiders!