Tempered Expectations

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It had been a while since I’d been up to the highlands of Simon Fraser University’s main campus on Burnaby Mountain and I arrived a bit early to see if anything had changed since my school days. The much-celebrated new observatory now sits next to the AQ. There’s finally a Tim Hortons and a Starbucks on campus. They’ve even started construction on a Student Union Building!1 But for the most part, it was the same old SFU that I remembered. Same concrete buildings. Same seemingly-endless parade of stairs. Same fish in the koi pond. And the same Terry Fox Field where this past Saturday the Clan took on the UBC Thunderbirds in an exhibition women’s soccer game.2

Terry Fox Field is a large all-purpose sports field that sits next to the main road leading into the complex of buildings that make up SFU’s main campus, and it is one of the first sights you see once you’ve made your way through the forest that surrounds the university. There is no permanent seating (yet), only a limited amount of temporary metal bleachers put up for games. Behind the field sits a large hill leading up to the Fitness Centre, where all of SFU’s indoor sports events take place. It appears to be well-maintained, but compared to the facilities at other major universities (and even some high schools), the sight doesn’t exactly leave you in awe.

I was excited for a grudge match between the crosstown rivals, but knowing that this was an exhibition game in August, I wasn’t exactly anticipating the Shrum Bowl.3 And what I got felt more like a neighbourhood soccer meet than a clash of hated enemies. Most of the crowd on the bleachers appeared to be made up of the players’ families who have clearly been to many, many soccer games before (and thus appeared only somewhat-interested in the game). Higher up on the hill was a larger crowd of viewers, but the vibe remained low-energy for the entirety of the game. To be fair, school isn’t even in session at this point, so it’s not like there were many SFU students around to watch the game. I’m a bit surprised the amount of people there was as large as it was.

The crowd’s lack of energy was unfortunate because the Clan actually put on a pretty good soccer game for an exhibition match. While the Thunderbirds dominated play for most of the game, the Clan was able to hang on thanks to excellent play from their goalkeeper, Priya Sandhu. The Clan even scored first, getting a nice goal from forward Olivia Aguiar at the beginning of the second half. But it was not to be, as the sports gods hate me, and the Thunderbirds were able to tie the game with less than ten minutes to go. The game ended with a 1-1 draw. Because it’s soccer so of course it did.

On the plus side, it seems the Clan has its very own superfan. A large fellow with an SFU t-shirt took great pleasure in bellowing out soccer chants at the top of his lungs. Striding up and down the sidelines, he yelled support for the Clan whenever they had a scoring opportunity. He taunted the Thunderbirds whenever they had a free kick. And most amusingly, he resorted to a rousing rendition of “Zombie Nation” whenever he got bored.4 In short, this guy rules and I hope he shows up to other Clan games because hoo boy, the Clan is going to need him if these crowds don’t get any livelier.

At the end of the day, I can’t stress enough that this was a preseason exhibition game, even if it did feature the SFU/UBC rivalry. It was a practice game and it felt like it. Nevertheless, this match-up is rare, and I feel like it was a missed opportunity. Because they now belong to different conferences, the Clan and the Thunderbirds will meet only one more time this year in a men’s hockey game on September 10th. We need to show up and cheer this team loudly whenever they have a chance to defeat those westside chumps. If there aren’t any current students around because school isn’t in session, then it’s up to us graduates to show up and cheer on the next generation. It would be great if we could see the many sports fans amongst both schools’ alumni turn every meeting of these schools, exhibition or not, into a real event. Our one superfan can’t do it by himself.

NEXT WEEK: I expand on my expectations for this season and go over my “Games of the Week” for fall.


  1. And it only took them 50+ years to build something that’s a staple on pretty much every university campus across North America. Classic SFU. 
  2. As stated in my previous article, this blog isn’t really about breaking news regarding the SFU Clan, so I’m not going to comment on the recent fallout of the Simon Fraser Student Society dropping the sports stadium plans from its Build SFU project. Check out SFU’s student newspaper, The Peak, for more information on the fiasco. 
  3. The Shrum Bowl was the annual football game between SFU and UBC. It hasn’t been held since SFU joined the NCAA in 2010 due to scheduling conflicts. 
  4.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoER5tHhQw8 
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