Wrapping up our “Meet your WhitecapsXI Contributors” series, this week we feature our newest writer, Graham Nichol.
1.) What was your journey to Whitecaps fandom?
“You know, it is very interesting how my fandom came to be. Being the born-and-bred B.C. boy that I am, my motto was always “If it’s Vancouver, I’ll support them!” This of course included the USL Whitecaps back in the Swangard days. Like Jake, I remember watching games occasionally on Shaw, although I didn’t follow it as closely as I do the MLS. Once the Whitecaps entered MLS in 2011, I wanted more and more, and now I find myself saving up for 2014 season tickets. It’s infectious, man! (Laughs)”
2.) What other leagues around the world do you follow?
“EPL is probably the only one I follow with any regularity, (No, I still don’t have a favorite team!) but I do have a few friends who are Bayern-Munich fans, so I try to check out the Bundesliga when I can.”
3.) Complete the phrase: “If you don’t anything about the Whitecaps the one thing you need to know is…”
“Games on TV are all well and good, but in order to truly understand the Whitecaps experience, go to a live game just once! It’s what sealed the deal for me, it could do the same for you, give it a try!”
4.) What young Whitecaps player do you think has the biggest potential?
“Oh man… tough call, the Whitecaps have a bucket of promising talent, this team has got such great potential overall! That being said, I do have a soft spot for Russell Teibert. I mean, the guy has such energy, such drive and promise at only 20? I can’t wait to see more of him! And who doesn’t love a Mohawk? (Laughs)”
5.) Who is your favourite current or past Whitecaps player?
“Well, I’m a bit of a captain’s man so I have to give the nod to Jay DeMerit, despite being sidelined all season with that torn Achilles. To see his storied career, rising up the ranks to the Premier League and World Cup to captain of our Whitecaps is inspiring. He’s proven himself a great leader both on and off the field, and his attitude and appreciation for the fans never ceases to impress me, it’s so cool to see pictures of him in the stands meeting fans.
Past players, I loved having Sebastian Le Toux as part of the club, and who doesn’t love Carl Valentine?”
6.) What has been your top Whitecaps MLS moment to date?
“Another toughie! As weird as it may sound to some, the first ever game as part of MLS is what I think of. I remember watching it all; the excitement in the stands, the pomp and circumstance, what a welcome! I would say it was that game that really lit the soccer flame under me. Oh, and walloping Toronto helped too!”
7.) Who is your favourite football player of all time?
“David Beckham. There, I said it. Sorry to sound like a bandwagon jumper, ha-ha, but it’s true. The guy had such a storied career, it’s hard not to respect. For years, he was the only ‘big name’ in football that I knew, until I began to broaden my horizons.”
8.) What is your favourite football moment?
“May I be a little selfish with this one? I have to say it was going to my first ever Whitecaps game this past year. It was on my birthday, I wasn’t broke for once, and I’d gotten two seats from my season-ticket holder friend. What better way to ring in another year? And from the national anthem to the closing seconds, I had a total blast! The energy in B.C. Place is unlike anything I’ve ever felt. I’d honestly go so far as to say it was more fun than my first Canucks game. (Sorry!)”
9.) How do you see the Whitecaps fitting in the Vancouver sports landscape?
“I think it’s doing a great job of fitting in already! You take a walk downtown and see all the Whitecaps banners on the lampposts, Whitecaps merchandise advertised in more windows and being worn out and about. Granted, it’s a hard market to compete in, what with the overwhelming support for the Canucks and Lions (Go Teams!) but the Whitecaps has its own territory and game fever is slowly catching on throughout the city. You see the sell-out figures for each home game, it’s only a matter of time before they consider opening up the upper bowl in B.C. Place. That’s going to be fantastic!”
10.) What do you think is necessary for MLS to reach the next level?
“It’s on its way, that’s for sure. I think the All-Star games and friendly matches between European teams and MLS is getting its name out there. I remember when Beckham first signed with LA Galaxy in 2007 and all the publicity that generated, then along came Thierry Henry and other names, that was the catalyst I believe. Now you’ve got the commissioner announcing expansion to, what was it, twenty-two teams over the next ten years? So clearly, people are taking notice. It’s difficult to say for certain how MLS will reach that ‘next level’, but I think the expansion will play a huge role.”
11.) What inspired you to become a WhitecapsXI contributor and what is the most satisfying aspect of it?
“(Laughs) Coincidence and luck, I think! I forget how I first discovered WhitecapsXI but I liked the content I was reading, I could tell the writers’ were putting real thought into their posts and not just vomiting out opinions and reckless statements. After I noticed a new contributor’s post (I think it was yours actually, Jorge!) I got onto Twitter and asked if they’d ever accept some form of a guest post from time to time. One thing led to another, and within a day, I was surprised to be offered a contributor’s role by Jake for previewing and recapping the games! Next thing you know, here I am! It’s funny. See, I’ve been writing my whole life (mostly fiction though) and I enjoy the challenge of branching out into new horizons. What a great opportunity to marry two of my passions; Whitecaps and writing! So I really am grateful to have been welcomed into this role and given this chance. I’m excited to see what the future holds!
12.) If all the Whitecaps players were available for selection, what would be your ideal Starting XI?
“I like the 4-3-3 formation I’ve seen throughout the year, so I’d stick with that. My players would be:”
David Ousted (GK)
Y.P. Lee (RB) — Andy O’Brien (CB) — Jay DeMerit (CB) — Jordan Harvey (LB)
Reo-Coker (RCM) — Koffie (CDM) — Watson (LCM)
Teibert (FWD) — Camilo (FWD) — Miller (FWD)
13.) Tell us a little more about your soccer history.
“It’s a brief one, ha-ha! I’d played on a junior team in Maple Ridge back when I was five or six, I think we were called the Strikers. That lasted about two years before I gave it up for whatever reason. Since then, I’ve been ‘on the bench’ per se and am not the most athletic guy around. I’m in the midst of changing that though, so stay tuned! One never knows what the future’s got in store.”