By Stephen Johnson
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable activities in Ottawa during a warm summer evening is to attend an Ottawa Fury FC match at Lansdowne Park. My parents were visiting us from Saskatchewan which made it that much more fun.
The Fury were playing the Halifax Wanderers to see who would go to the semi-finals in the Canadian Championship. The Fury and Wanderers play in different leagues making the rivalry that much more intriguing.
We arrived early at Lansdowne Park as we wanted to stroll around the park. Since it’s redevelopment, Lansdowne has been transformed into more of a people place. Twenty-somethings were hanging out on the patio, kids and their parents were enjoying the playground and splash pad while teens were skateboarding and playing basketball.
We entered the stadium and were ready to enjoy the match. Many fans were draped out in Fury FC jerseys and scarves. There was also a healthy contingent of fans supporting the Wanderers. Our son, David’s allegiance was obvious with his Ottawa Fury shirt proudly on display. The pre-game was fun with miniature soccer balls being lobbed into the crowd. David was able to land two of the balls.
I always like the pageantry that comes with a soccer game. The two teams came out accompanied by local children. O Canada was sung and it was time to play some soccer. The play was almost even but Halifax jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The Fury got a goal back right before the end of the first half. It was fun listening to David explaining the rules of soccer to grandma and grandpa.
I have attended a number of Fury games with David and my wife, Sandy. One of our favorite things are the half-time activities available to kids. There is typically an inflatable giant slide, soccer net to shoot balls, jenga blocks and connect four. David enjoyed shooting a few soccer balls while grandpa played goalie. We even got to meet and take photos with the Fury mascot, Sparky.
It was time for the second half to begin. The Fury evened up the score at the 66th minute. It was all the goals they would need as the score stayed at 2-2. The Fury had won a previous game against the Wanderers 3-2 meaning the combined score of both games was 5-4. The Fury would go on to the semi-finals!
The game was done but the activities at Lansdowne Park were still underway. The movie, The Greatest Showman, was taking place near Aberdeen Pavilion. The courtyard was packed as all different ages were enjoying the movie. The teens who had been playing basketball earlier were replaced by university age kids. The caliber of basketball was fun to watch.
My parents were impressed that such a vibrant place could exist in the middle of the city. It won’t be our last visit to see the Fury or to Lansdowne Park.