Southsiders: Find Your Pride

Southside Post 14:00 Sep 27th, 2011 Updated 14:15 Dec 18th, 2011 Posted by Paul Sabourin-Hertzog
First of all, thank you all for enduring what has been in many ways the worst season I’ve experienced in decades of supporting this club.

The play has been entertaining at times, but the results have been simply awful.

We’ve been annihilated on the field. We’ve been stomped out of playoff contention. We’ve completely flamed out of our regional and national derbies.

We’ve seen good friends and excellent people within the Whitecaps organization run out of town or relegated to obscurity.

This is just about the WORST season I have ever experienced in 25 years as a Whitecaps supporter.

However…

This is also the BEST season I have ever experienced, and I’ll tell you why.

Time and time again, the Southsiders have found themselves staring down the barrel of some extremely difficult obstacles which other MLS supporters groups simply have not had to overcome…. and you know what? We’ve come out on top EVERY TIME.

We fought and won our right to exist.

We fought and won our right to stand and sing in a designated section.

We fought and won the release of more seats at a lower pricing tier.

We fought and won the right to bring flags, banners and tifo into Empire in spite of a prohibition by the PNE.

We fought and won the increase to the league’s cap on away travel from 150 to 500 seats.

We fought and won access to away tickets at a fair price when a club-sanctioned travel agency was gouging us.

We fought and won the battle with said travel agency by sending buses down the I-5 at half the price.

We fought and won our right to be heard with respect to discourteous and unlawful conduct by PNE security.

We fought and won the opportunity to relocate our seats en masse at BC Place.

And in the days ahead, I’m quite optimistic that we can get approval for capos with megaphones with BC Place. You have a very capable representative in VP Brett Graham (Piltdownman) working with the Whitecaps on that issue right now.

When you take all of this into consideration, that’s a track record that every single Southsider can stand up and be proud of. You won’t find a SINGLE supporters group in MLS that has scrapped its way through as much BS as we have and come out on top as often as we did.

Once upon a time, long before these battles I’ve mentioned above, we squared off against many well-heeled and influential detractors.

Wealthy developers tried to kill our dreams of a waterfront stadium. They hired a renowned PR firm which created bogus community activist groups to turn the media against us. Whitecaps supporters were demonized as hooligans hell-bent on destroying the Downtown Eastside and harming the vulnerable people within it. We were branded as menaces to public safety and social order, and many clueless reporters regurgitated that nonsense on the front pages of their respective publications.

To put it simply, we got the shit kicked out of us…. and that’s when we did what the Southsiders have always done best:

We fought back.

We exposed those developers and the smear campaign they were trying to perpetrate. We exposed their lies, and we ran those jerks straight out of the media spotlight.

Where’s Reliance Holdings and the Gastown Neighbourhood Coalition now? The Gastown Residents Association? Central Waterfront Coalition? Long gone, with their tails between their legs.

Where are the Southsiders? We’re Canada’s largest supporters group, and we’re about to set up shop in the Whitecaps new $600 million palace downtown, that’s where!

My point here isn’t to relive old glories. It’s to share a lesson that those of us who have supported this club for many, many years learned the hard way through immense struggles and personal investment of time and energy.

There are going to be times when supporting your club feels like a very difficult thing to do. Your credibility will be questioned. Your very existence will come under scrutiny. There will be devastating losses, humiliation, criticism, finger-pointing and embarrassment. Maybe some of you are disappointed with how we sounded in comparison to the ECS. Consider it a life lesson.

There will always be groups larger than ours. There will always be groups more cohesive than ours.

So? Who gives a toss?

We’re not the first supporters club to have a nightmare of a season. We’re not the first supporters club to be out-sung by visitors at home. It happens. That’s football…. and it’s part of what makes the supporters culture so interesting.

Did we have an off night against Seattle? Perhaps…. But that’s only one bad night in 12 years of coming through like champions in every other respect as a supporters club.

A lot of people have posted messages here on this board, and also on Twitter, about their disappointment with us. Don’t waste any time or energy on this. We don’t need to defend ourselves. The only thing that matters is YOUR belief in the Southsiders, not somebody else’s. Get louder. Get more cohesive. Do it OUR way, on OUR timetable.

As Southsiders president, I have always been open to suggestions from members who want to discuss how we can do things better and more efficiently.

That said, I have absolutely NO interest at all in any criticisms or attacks coming from non-members and other self-entitled “slack-tivists” who sit in the stands, twiddling on their smartphones, demanding we do a better job entertaining them.

There are two types of Whitecaps supporters in Vancouver:

Those who roll up their sleeves, make flags, make banners, print flyers, sing their guts out, attend supporter functions and volunteer their time…

…and those who haven’t earned the right to tell me or my fellow Southsiders how this group should or should not go about our business. These jokers say they’re embarrassed by our performance? I’m ASHAMED by their reluctance and apathy.

Ask yourself: What kind of supporter are you?

I know which category I’m in… and those who are in my category shouldn’t waste a second of their time worrying what the smartphone slack-tivists think. We’re a part of a special movement which has traditions and culture that bring far more to the match day experience than any armchair analyst ever will.

True supporters will find pride in the darkest circumstances, and they will always rise above adversity. That’s what the Southsiders do best.

We don’t do what we do to entertain the crowd. We don’t do what we do to compete with other groups.

Find your pride and keep fighting. It’s not a talent show. It’s not American Idol. It’s not the Ice Capades. It’s football.

If you HONESTLY do your part and contribute, there’s not a single person who can take that away from you.

I’ll close here by thanking all of our volunteers who have been working so extremely hard to produce tifo, lead chants and spread the words to our songs with newcomers. You people are the gasoline that keeps the Southsiders engine running, and your contributions to the movement are ALWAYS appreciated. If there is anyone who has a right to feeling disappointed with Saturday’s show of support, it’s you… and in NO WAY should Saturday be construed by anyone as a reflection of your efforts and dedication to the cause.

It’s time to dig deep, Southsiders. Don’t give up. Find your pride and the noise will follow – that’s how it works, and it always does. Be prepared to sing your balls off, because the Timbers Army is going to bring it twice as hard as the ECS did. The ECS has numbers, but the TA has a much bigger heart.

Get ready for the loudest match of your lives.

Johnnie Monster
President – Vancouver Southsiders

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