There was a time, if brief, when Nathan Terlesky saw his local club FC Edmonton vanish into dust.
In November of 2017, the club announced it would be ceasing operations, bringing to an end an eight-year tenure in the North American Soccer League (NASL). Those were dark times for Terlesky and his fellow supporters, who, already fragmented into smaller groups after nearly a decade, now had even less tying them all together. Their last unifying thread had been severed.
Or so they thought.
On Saturday, FC Edmonton’s supporters announced the creation of a new group called River Valley Vanguard, which aims to unite passionate voices in the city with the goal of bringing vocal support to the lads in the club’s foray into the Canadian Premier League. With FC Edmonton reborn in the CPL, Terlesky hopes for a fresh start in the stands, too.
“A group of six supporters got around a table in mid-December and said we’re not happy with the way this ended,” Terlesky told CanPL.ca. “There’s another opportunity here, whether we have to bring the club back with our own with our own money, or convince (owner) Tom Fath to join the CPL, we have to do something.”
FC Edmonton would undergo something of a rebirth through the Canadian Premier League. Terlesky, who fell in love with the sport through a childhood affinity for Chelsea FC, wouldn’t need to stow away the microphone he had faithfully used to record his podcast, Loyal Company of the River Valley.
FC Edmonton was back, set to kick off in the inaugural CPL campaign in 2019, and with it, the club’s supporters – divided through the trials of its early years – returned with an idea: unite once more for this new foray in Canadian soccer.
“I think there’s been some really good moments for supporter’s culture in the city, and with FC Edmonton especially,” Terlesky said. “There’s also been some trying moments, for sure, but there’s growing pains with any group, and I think that’s where this new group is going to be coming out of – we all realize there’s an opportunity to restart fresh, to take all the lessons that we’ve learned in the last seven, eight years, and move forward together.”
— River Valley Vanguard (@RVVanguard) September 16, 2018
Now united under one banner, Terlesky hopes to continue building on some of the club’s and the supporter’s already-established traditions – from the infamous Rally Rabbit, to hosting events and meet-ups in familiar locales. The group’s headquarters will be in a “hip, trendy part of town,” the Old Town Pub on Whyte Avenue.
He affirmed this new group, and the fresh start it offers, would be inclusive to all, too.
“People can come to Vanguard and while they’re not card-carrying members, they can stand and sing and chant with us all the same,” Terlesky said.
“There’s been some animosity (in the past) between the various groups and the River Valley Vanguard is the way to move past all of that, put it all in the past, take all the drama out of it and focus on supporting the lads on the pitch rather than fighting amongst ourselves.”
Edmonton comes into the CPL with almost a decade of practical experience, and as such, much of the rituals of the supporters have already been established. But change is in the air in Edmonton, and Terlesky expects the club to storm to the top of the CPL pile in the early years of the league.
“For the first year, I think we have a solid chance of winning the championship,” he said. “We have what I would argue is one of the better academies in the country right now. We have a coach in Jeff Paulus who believes very strongly in a certain style of play and he can push forward with that, so I think a championship is not out of the question for the first year of FC Edmonton.”
You can check out the River Valley Vanguard on Twitter (@RVVanguard) for more information about the group, as well as FCEdmonton.club to secure your membership with a deposit ahead of the CPL’s inaugural 2019 season.