When the final whistle blew, the score was 0-0. Even still, Saturday afternoon at the Wanderers’ stadium was anything but dull. That’s in large part due to the soccer fans themselves, all 6,000 or so — some wearing Wanderers’ blue, some not — who trickle into Halifax’s bustling downtown to watch their team.
The Wanderers haven’t dominated the newly-formed Canadian Premier League. As of the time of writing, they’re in last place. But there’s no hand wringing at the Wanderers grounds, where Rover the masked hound prances across the field, kid’s teams scramble to get autographs of their favourite players and super fans belt out Celine Dion songs with reckless abandon.
Marc Therrien is a season ticket holder. He’s been to almost every home game, but pulled together a special outfit for the match on Sept. 21. The face paint and breast plate armour, all in Wanderers’ blue, were donned in the hopes of winning the best-dressed fan award. “The costume definitely evolved over time,” he says with a laugh.
As the Wanderers play against Winnipeg’s Valour Football Club, there’s a hum of conversation and laughter mixed in with singing and cheering. Along the goal line, fans stand shoulder to shoulder sipping on Halifax brews and soft drinks while the team struggles to find a rhythm on the field.
Rover, official sources report, is a “Nova Scotian Duck Tolling Retriever” who spends the games poking around the field, greeting fans and even conducting his own half-time game with local Minor League soccer teams.
Akeem Garcia is the team’s top scorer, with six goals on the season at the time of writing. The league has drawn talent from around the world — Garcia is Trinidadian — but 50 per cent of each team must be Canadian.
The Privateers 1882 is the Wanderers’ first unofficial supporters group. “Near, far, wherever you are….” — you know the rest. Celine Dion’s smash hit is a new addition to their song repertoire that they sing at games, while Halifax local Joel Plaskett’s “Nowhere With You” has been a standby. The Privateers are a structured group with membership benefits and planned community events throughout the year. And don’t forget the blue smoke that they send billowing across the stands after each goal scored by the Wanderers.