This has been a crazy busy summer for me personally, between work and a live event side project I run. The problem is that another passion has suffered and I am dying to get back to it.
Up the Rovers!
If you know me, you know I'm a massive soccer fan. I won’t get into why others should be following the Beautiful Game or how it truly is the world’s most passion-filled sport.
I had waited for Barrie to get a League1 Ontario team for a couple of years and, much like the history of many century-old English clubs, this city’s semi-pro origins will be the stuff of legend, lore and, eventually, a book.
As for the inaugural season, it has been a soccer fan’s dream.
The Simcoe County Rovers FC women's side made the playoffs in its first season.
The club’s men's squad won the Trent-Severn Cup, an inter-club challenge with the organization in Peterborough.
The men’s reserve squad won the reserve championship and did so with a perfect record this season.
The men’s premier club is playing this Saturday. Win and they’re in the playoffs with the possibility of hosting the game at Georgian College's J.C. Massie Field.
The fan base has been growing throughout the city and I have twice seen people wearing Rovers merchandise around town. Once downtown while wearing my Rovers shirt, someone walked by with a team scarf, winked and said, “up the Rovers.” It was a sign that in the team’s first year, they were planting the seeds for something bigger.
On a larger scale, it's well known that the nation’s women's team is doing amazing things, recently winning an Olympic gold medal.
The Canadian men have qualified for the 2022 World Cup and in 2026, the country will co-host that event.
It couldn’t be a better time to be a Canadian soccer fan and doing so really starts at the local level.
We have that local level team who have a focused front office with high expectations and very lofty yet achievable goals.
But the office isn’t what you’ll think about when you’re at the game. You watch the team, for sure, but if you are a Rovers fan who has attended games, you know of three things.
Brandon and the supporters club he created — and is growing — are loud and always looking for people to join the ranks of the Barbarriens.
The game-day team is second to none. You’ll see them running to help someone looking for a seat or running to fix a blown over banner and even staying until dark to get the field cleared off.
Third is my favourite.
Every soccer team needs a knowledgeable, helpful and loud Englishman.
The Rovers have director of game day operations Andy, and he’s the best — even if his choice in English Premier League teams is poor.
I really hope the Rovers get that home playoff game.
It's good to be busy in life, but you need an escape. You need to lose yourself in your passion or hobby sometimes.
For me, it's footy. It's an Everton game on TV while drinking my coffee on my couch on Saturday morning.
It's crying tears of joy with my wife at the Canada-Jamaica game to qualify for the World Cup.
It was hearing the news that the Rovers were coming to the region and realizing I would be able to be on the ground floor of a hometown soccer club.
It's the chanting, the singing, the yelling at bad calls, the cheering of goals, and wondering where we go now as fans with our club.
Saturday we play in Hamilton. A Rovers win means we’re in the playoffs, and a victory with some other scenarios gets us a home playoff date.
“We” and “us” — absolutely.
That's what local level sports is — a passion that includes everyone.
Indeed, Up The Rovers!
Shawn Gibson is a staff reporter at BarrieToday.