The latter half of December is always a lighthearted transition period, where many things come to an end, only to be replaced with newfound hope and opportunity as we head into a new year. In 2012, we were treated to all that, and more, on December 21st. Generally, this day is nothing more than the winter solstice, an event where fall closes, setting the stage for winter’s arrival. This year, events aligned to confirm what we, the Bytown Boys, have been suspecting for a long time: the emergence of a new era for the supporters club, full of hope, growth, and optimism.
Winter officially began with the rage of a lion this year, as Mother Nature dumped a good 35 centimetres of snow right on that first day, December 21st, almost as a warning of what is to come. As we were digging ourselves out, many must have been wondering if this was planned. After all, another massive event, full of hypothesis, speculation, and outright apocalyptic fears, has been haunting this day for many years. The end of a 394-year Mayan calendar, which oddly enough, fell right on that day, December 21, 2012, brought out the worst in many who, interpreting the calendar wrongly, concluded that this was a Mayan prophecy predicting the end of the world. As it turns out, the Mayans new exactly what they were doing, but they weren’t predicting the end of the world. Instead, they were predicting a new era for the Bytown Boys, set in motion in 2012 and ready to be released, with a new 394 year Mayan cycle, in 2013 and beyond.
What started out as an upbeat year for the Bytown Boys, prepping for a second season with Capital City FC, quickly devolved into uncertainty with the untimely dissolution of the club. Fortunately for us, our quick-thinking leadership took this in stride, setting us up with another adventure, one that saw us help the Ottawa Fury maintain their fortress at Algonquin College Soccer Complex. When the Fury season was over, ours certainly wasn’t, as we went well into the fall with events and agendas, with even more fun planned for the spring.
After an amazing inaugural season for the Bytown Boys, one that saw both club and supporters group completely tear a league apart in one expansion season, it was only natural to be full of optimism heading into 2012. And, that is exactly how the year started, with the club continually churning out positive news, and the supporters group prepping for an unforgettable second season. It almost seemed too good to be true, not just having a professional soccer club in the city, but a hugely successful one as well. Turns out, it must have been too good to be true, with all the hype and excitement unceremoniously dumped with one obscure announcement appearing on the clubs website in the middle of an early spring day. In that one moment, which many of us still have jogged in our memories, the fate of the supporters club went from stable to uncertain faster than a Serbian White Eagle player crumbling under pressure.
In fairness to the club, the CSL hasn’t exactly inspired confidence since they left, with awkward moments tainting the league both before and after City’s existence. This year saw particularly bad press for the league, with match-fixing allegations breaking out in the fall. Unfortunately, this leaves City in a bad spot, potentially waiting for new Ontario leagues to develop in order to return to the friendly confines of Terry Fox Athletic Facility. Fortunately for the Bytown Boys, however, uncertainty and confusion turned back into hope and optimism when the Ottawa Fury entered the scene.
The end of the initial CCFC era in Bytown Boys history, in many ways, marked the beginning of a new era, one featuring the Fury PDL club, along with their NASL expansion hopes in 2014. Coming into this era, we weren’t sure what to expect after the incredible inaugural season with CCFC. To our pleasant surprise, we quickly found out the Fury are a top-class organization from top to bottom, with John Pugh providing excellent leadership at the top, right down to the youngest player entering the massive and, frankly, incredibly impressive academy system. We were treated with respect from fellow fans and PDL players alike, both Fury players and, sometimes, visiting teams who were impressed with the passion. A major highlight, one of many, was getting to meet some younger fans who joined us later in the year, helping create an amazing atmosphere at Fury games. They will undoubtedly return next season, more intimidating than ever. Another highlight was the Fury playoff game against GPS Portland Phoenix, a game which went into extra time, with the Fury boys coming out on top. This game, while being the last time we saw the Fury this year, was by no means the end of the BBSC year.
The fall saw the group continuing its mission of spreading awareness and support for footy in Ottawa, with massive undertakings occurring both locally and nationally. With Canada’s national side in the middle of a World Cup Qualifying cycle in the fall, the Bytown Boys made appearances both in Ottawa and at the matches in Toronto. Locally, the WCQ matches were a great opportunity to meet local Voyageurs (Canada soccer supporters), spread our local message, and support the national side, all in one undertaking. At the matches in Toronto, it was a privilege seeing our massive BBSC flag flying with a host of others in the supporters section, even garnering some time on national television. Massive kudos to BBSC president Stephane for getting that done. Another massive undertaking, beginning in the fall, was the initiation of our series of podcasts,Boots, Scarves and 21 Questions and Bytown Boys: The Banter. Both have been early successes, and will no doubt continue for a long time. With the year coming to a close, we’re not done just yet, with a massive spring event in the works as we speak.
So, as we find ourselves at the end of 2012, it’s nothing short of incredible what the Bytown Boys have accomplished in the last twelve months. The best part is, this only feels like the beginning. But, as the 394 year Mayan calendar clearly showed us, an amazing beginning is often the product of a huge era which preceded it, setting it up for an unbelievable run. As we look forward to a New Year, accompanied by both the beginning of a new cycle of that massive Mayan calendar and increasing hype surrounding an NASL franchise in the city, you can’t help but feel the Bytown Boys are heading into an amazing direction. A new beginning, preceded by an amazing era which set it up.