Monday, August 29, 2011

Brampton City United –Serbian White Eagles (31-07-2011)

Brampton City United plays its home games at Victoria Park Stadium, tucked away in an industrial park in Brampton, the third-biggest city of Ontario, just west of Toronto. The team, which was founded as Metro Lions in 2002, has changed its name and crest virtually every year. Kick-off was at 3 PM and it was yet a very hot day: roughly 90F/32C in the shade… and there was little to no shade!

I pay CAN$10 (ca. $10) and make my way to one of the two wooden bleachers. Half an hour before kick-off there are not many people yet, but those there are more than worth the look (turn out later, they are some of players’ girlfriends). The crowd is small, roughly 50 people at kick-off, and quite diverse; most home fans are black, most visitor fans are Yugoslav (just like the players of the two teams). In front of me sits the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) official.

They play on a real grass pitch, which is in decent condition, but quite bent. The grass is quite high, which makes the ball move slow. In the first half I sit among the fans of the Serbian White Eagles, which are an odd mix of old Serbian-speaking men and a diverse bunch of 20-some hip guys and hot girls. Already in the 5th minute a 20 meter free kick is headed in from 6 meters: 1-0. Two minutes later a 20 meter Eagles shot is saved and the rebound is saved too. In the 14th minute everything changes: although I couldn’t see exactly what happened, a Serbian defender is sent off for elbowing a player while the game is interrupted. On top of that, Brampton gets also a penalty.

With one man less and 2-0 down the fans around me go crazy, shouting in English with heavy accents at the referees and the linesman involved. Their most intense swearing was in Serbian though, to the great delight of the younger fans. Soon to would have something to celebrate though. In the 20th minute a great individual action of the captain made it 2-1.

While the level of play wasn’t stellar, we got still quite a couple of little treats. In the 28th minute the hosts kicked an amazing flick with the outside foot which landed on the crossbar. In the 34th minute a good attack by the Eagles was saved by the goalie and a defender. But in the 37th minute a good attack over left was slided in: 3-1. A hattrick by BCUFC #10! Just before half time the Eagles goalie and defender mess up, but the striker puts the ball at the crossbar. Half time score: 3-1.

After an excellent sausage sandwich and a walk around the pitch, I am ready for the second half. This time I sit with the home fans, on the other wooden bleacher. The level of play decreases, but the talking on the pitch doesn’t. Both teams excel in talking, talking, talking, which isn’t helped by the fact that the referee gives cards when the players complain enough. In the 63rd minute the hosts have a good attack, but it is saved by the goalie.

One minute later Brampton take a free kick from 20 meters as the goalie is still adjusting the wall: crossbar! They create a couple more chances in the next minutes, but completely surprising it is the Eagles that score, again through their captain, with a beautiful high lob: 3-2. After that the home team reasserts its dominance, but the attacks become too complicated.

With ten minutes left to go, I have to leave, as I have just over an hour to get to my next game, almost 100 km (60 miles) away. As I leave, I am certain the hosts will be able to hang on, if not extend, their lead. As it turns out, the Eagles were able to tie the game, despite being one man down, and drew 3-3. Stunning!

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