It got very real for HFX Wanderers FC supporters last Saturday.
James Covey and other members of the Privateers 1882 supporters group would have been in “The Kitchen” for the club’s CPL home opener that sunny Nova Scotian afternoon.
Instead, Covey and many Wanderers fans tuned in for OneSoccer’s re-airing of the club’s home opener from the 2019 season.
With no game to play, the Wanderers held one of the biggest Zoom calls you will ever see in the history of Zoom calls – over 100 people, including fans, Wanderers coach Stephen Hart, HFX players, and CPL commissioner David Clanachan, celebrated with each other in lieu of a home match actually being played.
Covey was one of many fans talking about the Wanderers from the comforts of their homes during the special Zoom session, and was buoyed by the sense of community that it promoted amongst the supporters.
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“I recognized so many of the faces on there – people at games, supporters events or what have you,” Covey told CanPL.ca.
Thankfully, the Privateers are used to being an online community since it was formed in 2016. Covey recalls the years they campaigned for a CPL club to come to Halifax, largely by keyboard.
“It was a familiar feeling for everything to be online,” said Covey, mentioning the two years the Privateers 1882 existed before the Wanderers’ arrival in the league.
“We were a virtual thing long before we were an actual thing – it was a couple years before the Wanderers came… before that, it was all about trying to make the case for the Wanderers Grounds (to be made available to a CPL team).
“It’s just that we put all this work into going from virtual to actual – it feels like there’s a setback.”
While Forge FC supporters must wait to hand out yearly scarves, the Privateers have found a way. Organizers their entire yearly batch in just two hours after posting a message on Twitter last Saturday.
Group organizers will hand deliver the 2020’s scarves that prominently features “Barrett’s Privateers” as much as the Wanderers’ 2020 home kit does – a complete coincidence, according to the group.
Blown away by Haligonians’ interest in their scarves, Covey took an evening walk around his neighbourhood after the Zoom event. He saw folks sporting Wanderers gear – some he recognized, some he didn’t – on what would have been a beautiful day for some football if the circumstances were different.
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“The Wanderers, it’s extended well out into the community,” Covey admitted.
“Things are certainly dispiriting and disheartening, but there are still a hardcore group people still talking about the club and football – and when you speak to your supporter friends and people interested it picks you up again.”
This past Tuesday, the Canadian Premier League’s East Coast club, albeit quietly, celebrated one year since their inaugural game – a 1-0 road loss to Pacific FC.
Next Monday will mark one year since HFX Wanderers took to Wanderers Grounds for their home opener. It’s also Covey’s 50th birthday. Although celebrations won’t be the same with no HFX matches to watch or home games to attend, Covey believes the sense of community amongst HFX supporters remains strong.
“Everyone is trying to find a point where we’re tolerably happy,” Covey said. “We want to help Wanderers fans get there.”