By Simon Fudge/whitecapsfc.com
Video - Whitecaps Honoured at City Hall
2008 USL First Division champions Vancouver Whitecaps FC were honoured for their success by Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan and members of City Council on Tuesday afternoon.
Whitecaps players, staff, and supporters were joined by several members of the media at Vancouver City Hall, as Teitur Thordarson's side were recognized for their achievements in winning the club's second USL-1 Championship title in three seasons with a 2-1 victory over Puerto Rico Islanders on Thanksgiving Sunday.
Proceedings began with an informal meeting between Mayor Sullivan and the players and coaching staff of the Whitecaps men's team in the Mayor's office. That was followed by a gathering outside City Hall, where captain Jeff Clarke helped raise the Whitecaps flag in front of City Council members, media and Whitecaps supporters. The Whitecaps flag will fly at City Hall during the next week.
The afternoon's festivities ended with another gathering in Council Chambers, as the players were formally congratulated for their efforts by Mayor Sullivan before Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi and team captain Clarke each spoke on behalf of the club and squad respectively.
For Clarke, the significance of Sunday's victory has been well reflected in the people he has met over the past few days. "Since the final ended, the whole town has celebrated this success with me," he told reporters at City Hall. "Whether I've been at the bank or the local grocery store, people have stopped what they have been doing and have come over to congratulate me. As a player, that's all you could ask for."
Whitecaps winger Justin Moose played an important role in the club's run to the USL-1 title, with the former DC United player left humbled by the City of Vancouver's formal recognition of the squad. "It's a great feeling to know that you have the city's support," said the speedy midfielder. "Winning a championship is a great feeling, but to be honoured like this is something else. It was something that I wasn't expecting on my part, so I'm very grateful."
Whitecaps goalkeeping coach Mike Salmon also felt honoured by Tuesday's events. The former Charlton Athletic shot-stopper could not be happier at the way the 2008 season concluded for the club. "It's a fantastic achievement," he told whitecapfc.com. "At the start of the season, we were always going to give it a good shot, but I think to get this far was beyond our expectations with the squad that we inherited. All the effort that has been put in by the players and the staff has been tremendous."
Having experienced the passionate environment of professional soccer in his native England, Salmon admitted that the weekend's events at Swangard Stadium were special. "I've got to say that the last couple of minutes of that game brought the hairs up on the back of my neck," he said. "To win it at home was an amazing feeling, and it was fantastic to see all of that community in the stadium come together. Hopefully, the future will see us get that Major League Soccer bid and our new stadium, as I see things only going one way and that is up. It's just great to be part of it."