I’m getting really excited as we approach another alumni event, where I get to watch some of my old teammates play again and we get to reminisce about some of the plays we never made.
Coaches Alan Errington and Tony Waiters will surely give me a hard time about how hard I was to deal with, but I will remind them I helped bring a championship back to Vancouver. There will be numerous 86ers talking about the four straight championships we won, and I’m sure Ivor Evans will be trying to convince everyone that he was the better winger in the day.
It will be great to see Davide Chiumiento, Jay DeMerit, Terry Dunfield, and Young-Pyo Lee and chat about the early days of the ‘Caps in MLS and how the fans came together to create this fantastic culture we have at our home games.
But for me, it can also be a little sad as I think about some of my former teammates who are no longer with us.
John Craven was our leader and captain in 1979 when we won the NASL Soccer Bowl. He played 13 years in England for teams like Blackpool, Crystal Palace, Coventry City and Plymouth before joining the ‘Caps in 1978. Interestingly, it was John that spotted me playing for Oldham Athletic when at Plymouth and was a big reason for me landing in Vancouver.
He was a central defender and a fierce competitor. There was not a tackle he didn’t think he could win and he scored a number of key goals from set plays on our run to become champions in ‘79.
It was so tragic that we lost him at the early age of 49 to a heart attack and I never got to speak to him after our Soccer Bowl win, but I will remember what a special player and even better person he was and how he left us with one of the greatest moments in Whitecaps history when he lifted that Cup.
Alan Ball was the last piece of the jigsaw in our ‘79 team and definitely one of the best players I ever played with. He was a World Cup winner with England at the age of 21 and played 22 seasons for teams like Everton, Arsenal and our own Vancouver Whitecaps.
He was known for his squeaky voice and competitive spirt, but his ability to play quick one/two touches was just remarkable. There’s no doubt in my mind that his style of play would have fit right in with the famous Barcelona teams we’ve seen as of late.
“Bally,” as he was known, was named MVP of the 1979 playoffs as he scored seven goals in nine games, driving us to that special day in New York when we beat Tampa Bay 2-1 and he assisted on the winning goal scored by Trevor Whymark. Best of all, he just loved to play football and play to the crowd.
Those of us who were around to see him strut his stuff at Empire Stadium certainly cherish the memories he left for us.
Finally, there’s Domenic Mobilio.
He was one of the purest goalscorers I had the pleasure to play with – and he was born and raised right here in Vancouver. When he was in front of goal, it looked like everything slowed down for him as he would calmly stroke the ball past the opposing goalkeeper. He scored 170 goals for the 86ers, making him the all-time leader for our club and the Canadian Soccer League.
Domo was a fan favourite who always took the time to sign autographs and make the fans feel special. And, as a local lad making the grade to become a professional, he gave a lot of hope to younger players that with hard work you could realize your dream.
A good friend and teammate, Domenic was taken away from us at the young age of 35, but we have never forgotten him – and we never will.
Whitecaps FC Ring of Honour inductee Carl Valentine is the club's all-time leader in appearances and fourth all-time in goals scored. Currently, Valentine serves as a club ambassador.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: LEGENDS & STARS CHARITY ALUMNI MATCH
- The alumni match will take place on Saturday from 1:45 p.m. PT to 2:45 p.m. PT ahead of Vancouver’s Major League Soccer match against Columbus Crew SC, which kicks off at 4 p.m. PT. Fans can enter BC Place through Gate A beginning at 1:15 p.m. PT.
- To purchase a ticket for the alumni match, fans must also have or purchase a ticket for the MLS match. No in-and-outs will be permitted between matches.
- Tickets for the alumni match are on sale for $5, with all proceeds donated to BC Children’s Hospital.
TICKETS FOR ALUMNI MATCH ONLY: http://ow.ly/D4HP30eVOrV
TICKETS FOR ALUMNI MATCH AND MLS MATCH (alumni match add-on will appear after you select your seats for the MLS match): http://ow.ly/hYzb30eVOxr