What gifts would the CPL head coaches get each other for Christmas?

Holiday cheer has spread throughout Canadian Premier League front offices across the country, as Christmas fast approaches and the league’s seven clubs (and managers) put a bow on what has been a special year in Canadian soccer.

As soccer fans eagerly anticipate the CPL’s kick-off in April of 2019, the head coaches are hard at work, signing players and gearing up for the inaugural season.

Keeping with the holiday spirit, asked each coach – who spent time getting to know one another throughout 2018 – what they might want to give their touch-line friends (and soon to be foes) for the holidays?

Here’s what they told

To: Tommy Wheeldon Jr., Cavalry FC
From: Fellow CPL coaches

Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

“Well, Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s going to get some hair products, no doubt about that,” Valour FC’s Rob Gale answered, correctly predicting an almost-unanimous choice of gifts from the rest of the CPL coaches.

HFX Wanderers coach Stephen Hart said Tommy’s long locks were looking “a bit unruly” and offered him a “tube of that hair cream,” while Forge FC’s Bobby Smyrniotis and Al Classico rival Jeff Paulus both offered gift certificates to barbershops in Calgary.

The lone exception? York9 FC bench boss Jimmy Brennan, who generously offered Wheeldon Jr. some “sugar cubes for his stable of horses” at Spruce Meadows.

To: Rob Gale, Valour FC
From: Fellow CPL coaches

Valour FC head coach Rob Gale.
Valour FC head coach Rob Gale.

Opinions were split on what to get Gale for Christmas: Half of his colleagues believe Gale is also in need of a new “do,” with Wheeldon Jr. being the first one to fire back. Brennan went one step further, offering Gale a full salon treatment complete with “a voucher to a sunbed.”

But the other half had other ideas regarding the personable Valour coach. Hart joked he’d get Gale a muzzle – “he definitely needs one sometimes!” – and Smyrniotis said he’d buy him “a word counter, just so he can see at the end of the day how many words came out of his mouth.” Paulus, too, said he’d buy Gale “a filter.”


To: Jeff Paulus, FC Edmonton
From: Fellow CPL coaches

FC Edmonton head coach Jeff Paulus.
FC Edmonton head coach Jeff Paulus.

Not content with being the butt of the follicle funnies, Wheeldon Jr. traded jabs with his cohort, suggesting an unusual gift: “For Jeff Paulus, every haircut I have, I’d make into a wig and give him some cover for those cold winter months in Edmonton.” It was a gift idea echoed by Brennan, who also suggested a wig.

Instead of poking fun, Gale and Smyrniotis offered the FC Edmonton coach a few stress relievers, with Smyrniotis gifting “a day at the spa” and Gale joking: “Jeff’s a bit of a Grinch amongst us all so I’d send him a little Grinch fluffy, cuddly toy.”

You’re a mean one, Mr. Gale.

To: Stephen Hart, HFX Wanderers FC
From: Fellow CPL coaches

HFX Wanderers coach Stephen Hart/
HFX Wanderers coach Stephen Hart.

“As the senior statesman among us,” Gale said, of Hart, “he’s like a fine wine – he gets better every year.”

No strangers to the sort of banter expected in modern football, the coaches dropped the hijinks when it came to Hart, who has the utmost respect of his peers and, as such, was offered more traditional gifts from the CPL’s head coaches.

Gale took his wine metaphor to its natural conclusion, adding: “I’d treat him to a nice bottle of red for Christmas.” Wheeldon Jr. offered a more familiar drink to the former Trinidad and Tobago manager: “I’d get him a bottle of rum to tell his stories, because he’s got some great stories.”

Smyrniotis offered to take Hart out for “a nice meal at a Greek restaurant in Toronto” while Brennan, who has known Hart since his playing days with the Canadian national team, said he’d buy his mentor a winter jacket.

“Every time I see him it looks like he’s freezing,” Brennan said, with a laugh.

To: Jimmy Brennan, York9 FC
From: Fellow CPL coaches

York9 FC head coach Jimmy Brennan.
York9 FC head coach Jimmy Brennan.

Fashion is the name of the game for Brennan in regards to gifts from his peers. Hart, his longtime former coach, offered an unorthodox present, since Brennan “does really have everything” already: “I think he’d look good in a new tracksuit. He’d probably do with one of those, that’s his dress style.”

Smyrniotis offered his opposite a “pocket square for his TV appearances,” while Gale sees Brennan sporting a different look: “I’d get him anything green, because that’s all he wears now. So maybe a Grinch costume for him because that’s the York9 colours.”

Wheeldon Jr. might take Brennan with him to a barbershop: “I think he’s now greyer than me.”

Paulus, meanwhile, had a different idea, having poached a trialist out of York: “I would like to offer him the gift of Son Yongchan,” joked the FC Edmonton boss, then added: “Just kidding.”

To: Bobby Smyrniotis, Forge FC
From: Fellow CPL coaches

Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis.
Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis.

Smyrniotis’ gracious offer to take Hart out for a meal at a Greek restaurant was reciprocated without Hart’s knowledge of Bobby’s offer, as the HFX Wanderers bench boss said he’d like to take Smyrniotis out for “a lovely dinner.” Paulus added the “show” part to dinner and a show, saying he’d “buy him a gift certificate” to a comedy show.

Wheeldon Jr. went down a more traditional route: “I’d get him another scarf; he seems to be loving those Forge FC scarves, so I’m going to get him a fashionable scarf he can wear on the streets as well, because I think that’s going to be his calling card as his signature dress.”

To: Michael Silberbauer, Pacific FC
From: Fellow CPL coaches

Pacific FC head coach Michael Silberbauer.
Pacific FC head coach Michael Silberbauer.

Is the Danish tactician ready to embrace the cold Canadian winters?

Wheeldon Jr. thinks not: “I’d get Mr. Silberbauer a warm jacket because I don’t think he knows what the Canadian climate will be like,” he said. “I’d also get him some maple syrup so he understand what it’s like to be a Canadian.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Gale, who said he’d send Silberbauer “a map of Canada just so he knows where he’s going next year as we welcome him to our community.” Paulus offered a Canadian-English dictionary, while other coaches offered him gift cards to some Canadian coffee-shop staples.

Finally …

Rounding up this list is Silberbauer’s own gift to the rest of his head coaches, who he had a chance to meet a couple of times in 2018. For the former Denmark international, there’s just one present fit for the occasion:

“I would probably get them, you know, we have “bitters” called Gammel Dansk – translated, it’s called ‘Old Danish’ and that’s a very local drink from Denmark. I’d get them each a bottle of that for after they lose to Pacific FC.”

Happy holidays from Editorial. Make sure to check back with us throughout the festivities for more features and special content.