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Soccer tire kickers enjoyed the show at Kelowna's Apple Bowl

Hodge Podge column by Charlie Hodge
(File photo by BLACK PRESS)

I should have known in my first week that my future career as a journalist was not only going to be exciting, mind-opening and fun but also twisted, unpredictable and continually unravelling far from the anticipated.

Then Capital News editor Pat Denton hired me full-time on that summer day back in the mid-1970s on the guise that I would be a dual brimmed run of the mill pup reporter and also organize and edit a sports section.

Denton figured with all my hockey interest that I would have no problem with the sports job.

When I mentioned to him (several times) I had little or no interest in any sports except hockey, boxing and lacrosse, Denton shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well that’s more than I have and we need a sports section – so get at it.”

What Pat did not understand (or perhaps did not want to understand) is that one should know something about a sport if one is going to write about it.

After all, it was he that looked me in the eye on hiring day and said, “The best advice I can give you as a journalist is write what you know and you know you – so the first thing you will write for me is your obituary.”

So what about baseball, softball, basketball, football, tennis, sailing? I was clueless.

I was even nervous about lacrosse. I liked the game because it reminded me of hockey, yet on cement or grass, however, I really did not know the rules of the game.

I was in job trouble but figured I could fake my way through at first and learn the games quickly.

To adapt, I had a few friends hang out with me while attending my first couple of games to explain rules and strategies – and I took a lot of pics.

I caught on pretty quick with most of these sports – except to soccer.

In my youth, I was always playing ice hockey or road hockey in the summer and had no desire to play soccer.

However, Kelowna had a popular men’s soccer league at the time, and the league wanted coverage.

In desperation, I found a fellow named Mike Condon who was a soccer nut and asked him to help me get started.

On our first meeting, Mike looked at me and said, “Explaining soccer is easy. All you have to remember is, ‘If it moves, kick it. If it doesn’t move, kick it until it moves, then kick it.”  

That lesson, obviously, stayed with me forever.

Mike went on to write a soccer column for me and when I left the Capital News for Kamloops, Mike took on the role of sports editor.

That little gem rolled into my brain Sunday while Tez and I joined 6,230 other people at the Apple Bowl for a tremendous display of soccer. 

Dubbed the ‘Canadian Premier (Soccer) League on Tour’, the Vancouver Football Club played host to ‘visiting’ Calgary Football Club in an exhibition game – which was as much an adventure in tire-kicking as anything else.

The league is expanding, and Vancouver is looking to form an expansion club somewhere in B.C. with Kelowna their key interest.

The exhibition match was an opportunity for the team to see how they felt about Kelowna and vice versa.

It was a pretty nice first date.

The Vancouver players, management and owners were a class act in my book and their compliments about Kelowna indicated they loved the response they received from Kelowna.

Mark Marshall, director of partnerships and hospitality, is the perfect fit for his job and his entire day was an example of astute planning and adapting on the fly.

For a first-time adventure, Marshall’s team had it nailed and whatever tweaking needed to be done was handled with no fuss or muss.

Fans were kept highly entertained the entire game which ended deadlocked 0-0.

Since I no longer have to write about sports, I could just relax throughout the day.

I did not have to fake having fun at all, it just happened and VFC helped with that.

Vancouver Football Club may pursue other expansion sites, however all the tire kickers involved seemed happy with Sunday’s show at the Apple Bowl.