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‘Hamsters ’til we die

May 7, 2012
by
Go Hammers!

First-year team Bellingham United FC has passionate fans (Orin O’Neill photos)

Chances are, if you know someone who rides a scooter, they’re a soccer fan. It seems to go with the territory, just as scooter riders often make a living as artists or Web designers.

Of course, if you live in the Pacific Northwest, there’s a pretty good chance you’re a soccer fan, even if you don’t ride a scooter. The 4th-largest crowd in the world ever to watch soccer was the 64,140 fans at Sounders FC’s last 2011 regular-season match at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. In 1976, the then-new Kingdome hosted the Seattle Sounders vs. New York Cosmos, a match played in front of something in excess of 59,000 warm bodies (I was one of them. Pele looked like an avatar in a video game from my nosebleed-section seat.).

The Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps had successful first MLS seasons in 2011 (both clubs have had previous incarnations in other leagues). And now Bellingham, home to minor-league baseball and basketball, welcomes the Beautiful Game with Bellingham United FC.

BUFC logo

No, the BUFC was not the result of a merger of a Bellingham City club with, say, a Whatcom County one. This is a new organization, one that seems inevitable in light of how difficult it can be to get Sounders FC tickets. Or cross the border for Whitecaps FC matches.

Yes, there were scooters at the inaugural match. Not very many, though. Some were familiar.

P200 and PX150

Some weren’t. All took full advantage of scooter-sized parking spaces at Civic Field.

Off-brand scooter

I expected to see more scooter peeps, but given the sunny weather they might have preferred going for a ride. Can’t say I blame them.

The Hammers’ (much more intimidating than “Hamsters,” for sure) opponent was Langley Athletic, from British Columbia. Both teams are freshman members of the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) Premier Division, which is based in B.C. and has been around for over 75 years.

Hammer head

It’s still early days for BUFC, so the opener saw little in the way of costumes or face paint. In fact, there were few dressed in black (the team color, along with white), except for a handful of hipsters.

I’m the first to admit, my interest in soccer is quite casual. In fact, I plumped for a season ticket only because the cost was $50, and that included a scarf, which the team sells for $20. General admission is $8, which means I’ve gotten my money’s worth after four matches.

As with baseball, an activity that is by nature tedious as hell can be be redeemed by a well-executed play. The tying goal scored by Langley comes to mind. 😦

On the pitch

And yes, one player on each side got his bell rung, but good.

Ouch!

I can only recall one Langley player getting a yellow card. No red cards, not this time.

Grandstand

There was a good crowd, and all seemed to have a good time. At halftime the local kids’ soccer league played a boys vs. girls exhibition with a ball about twice as tall as any of the players. When I was their age, sports was Little League baseball and Pee-Wee football. These days, it’s soccer. And lacrosse. Which seems to have come on like gangbusters since the movie American Pie was playing in theaters.

We win!

The final score was 3-2, Hammers. Details of the match can be found right here. I also have some pix of the match here.

The next match is next Sunday. I must have a plain black t-shirt somewhere. Favicon

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