FC Edmonton officially announced their participation in the Canadian Premier League (CPL) on Friday night. It was arguably one of the greatest nights in the history of the club. And for me personally it was one of my proudest moments since i’ve been involved in the beautiful game.
The evening began at Buckingham on Whyte ave which is where many of the fans gathered to drink some pints and talk about what an incredible journey it has been to get to this point. The crew got together for a group picture and a quick warmup song before the party officially kicked off.
The supporters group were met by a large number of FC Edmonton fans right outside The Keg on Whyte Ave. It was a diverse group of people, young and old, gathering to sing about their beloved FC Edmonton. And that was the beautiful thing right there, was seeing a diverse group unite together and create memories that will never be forgotten.
As the blue smoke began to cover the skies of Whyte Ave, the Edmonton Police arrived to give an escort to the staging area, which was about a 10-minute walk. The drums were being hit, the fans were shouting in full-voice, scarves and flags were flying in the air as a large contingent of people made their way to the unveil. People enjoying food and drinks on the patio were treated to an unexpected surprise and they joined in by shouting things like “Go Edmonton!”
Once the march made it’s way to the staging area, that’s when the emotion really began to settle in. I had a genuine smile on my face the entire time and for those who know me, I don’t tend to smile a whole lot. But I felt like a kid again, especially when me and my former colleague and good friend Jamie Umbach united in arms as FC Edmonton General Manager Jay Ball took the stand.
“This league if for Canadians by Canadian and our time is now,” he shouted to the crowd. And you know what? He’s right.
That got me thinking, how many Canadians could start for FC Edmonton come April. And then I realized, it’s very possible that at least half of the starting lineup could be all Edmonton based players. Heck, you could probably field a starting lineup of Edmonton players and they would hold their own.
If you want to sell out week in and week out, local players can help achieve that. When Edmonton were in the NASL, that was always the argument from local soccer fans. “We want to see players from Edmonton play and not players from abroad. No matter how good they are.” Well, it’s time for those fans to show up because there will be no more excuses. This team will field local Edmonton players and other players from all across Canada.
Canadian Premier League commissioner David Clanachan took the stage after Ball finished with another one of his motivational trademark speeches. Clanachan was greeted by chants of “Who are ya!” from the fans. You wouldn’t really be a commissioner if you didn’t get heckled by fans right? Obviously it was just some friendly banter. The commissioner began to speak highly of the soccer community in Edmonton and how he was afraid what would happen to him if Edmonton didn’t get a team. Don’t worry Commissioner, you are safe.. for now.
His speech had me feeling really proud for everyone involved in the #YEG4CPL movement. All the countless of hours they put in has finally paid off. Their voice and concerns were heard and dealt with. It shows if you united as a community you can achieve anything.
It’s very evident that the expectation for FC Edmonton are very high. To me, they are already favourites to win the league even though no clubs have signed players. The bar has been set high and it needs to stay there consistently. Now is the time where FC Edmonton can start off strong and become a consistent powerhouse in this league. Sort of how New York Cosmos were in the NASL.
Then came to unveil for the logo, which was very well done. The crew at the CPL have done a great job. The short videos with interviews were very well done. I got the chills from them and I could feel the hairs on my body rising. Their was a quick moment of silence when the crest was unveiled then it was greeted by cheers from everyone in attendance. I personally really like it. It’s simple, sharp, and effective. My initial thoughts were that it was very modern and it reminded me of the new Juventus logo.
The crest represents the North Saskatchewan river as it forms the E in the connected FCE. The crest notes the team was established in 2010, which is nice to see the club keeping it’s history and that’s important. And then my favourite part, the rabbit-paws which represent the famous rabbit that will always be apart of the clubs history. Their will also be a rabbit on the kit.
After the festivities were done you could tell how happy and pleased everyone was. The energy was positive, everyone was smiling and laughing, people were hugging and there were some who shed a tear or two of joy. There was real optimism from everyone. From the fans, former players, office staff members and even members from the CPL head office.
Now it’s time to create more history and memories that will add to the history of FC Edmonton. As I said earlier, there will be a lot of Canadians in this league and hopefully in this team. Based on conversations i’ve had with professional players, I think it’s safe to say there will be a lot of Canadians on this team and a good chunk of the teams core could very well be players who grew up in Edmonton.
There are no more excuses for soccer fans to not support this club. Since the arrival of GM, Jay Ball, the club has taken major strides in the right direction. There is a sense of unity between the club and the community, which was once an issue. It’s great to see families and minor soccer players out at games supporting the club. It adds another dimension to the fan culture and the overall production on game days, but now it’s time for all ages to support Edmonton.
When I say that, I mean those between the ages of 18-30. The ones who are playing mens league or for post-secondary institutions. For whatever reason, you don’t seem them at games much and it’s for various reasons. Based on discussions with people from that age range the excuses vary. Some of it is an ego issue as numerous people felt their men’s team could beat FC Edmonton so they didn’t want to pay and watch them. But the most common one was that they wanted to see their friends playing for FC Edmonton. They wanted a connection with the players on the pitch. They wanted to cheer one of their own.
FC Edmonton have always fielded local players, but for the CPL there will be more of them. So there really is no excuses for those people not to come to games and support Edmonton. You will be cheering one of your own (I expect to hear some “he’s one of our own chants) and you will have friends playing for FC Edmonton. So it’s time to put your money where your mouth is and get on board. Because trust me, you do not want to miss out on what’s happening. As Jay Ball said, our time is now.
On a final note, the true heroes are the Fath family. The amount of time and money they’ve put into this club has been phenomenal. Their dedication to soccer in Edmonton has been truly inspiring. On behalf of soccer fans in this city, thank you to the Fath family.