CORNER BROOK He got them indoors, now Paul Christopher is hoping they can be coaxed outside.
A former mainstay in the Corner Brook Molson Senior Men’s Soccer League, the 58-year-old Christopher misses the game he spent most of his life playing. It’s been about four years since he hung up the cleats, primarily because of the absence of a Masters team in the local setup.
A 35-and-up Masters squad existed for years, but has been out of commission since 2005 due to a lack of interested players.
This year, with the return of the Corner Brook Molson Indoor Soccer League following a one-year hiatus, Christopher decided to round up a few like-minded individuals to see if a team could be constructed. Much to his delight, he succeeded.
“So far, so good ... a lot of fellas wanted to play,” he said, following an 9-8 loss to the West Side Monarchs Black at the Pepsi Studio on Wednesday night.
“As a matter of fact, there were a lot of fellas we couldn’t pick up because there was just that much interest.”
Jeff Young notched four goals for the Monarchs Black in the win, with Brad Roberts (2), Mark Fitzpatrick, Lucas Giroux and an own-goal filling out the rest of the scoresheet.
Cameron Locke (3), Ed Joyce (2), Todd Warren, Jason Connolly and Christopher accounted for the Masters’ offence.
Mark Woodman was the winning goalkeeper over Albert Specker.
Stepping back into the sport
Unlike the outdoor game, which would call for about 20 players to realistically form a reliable team, the indoor squad only needed to be comprised of about a dozen players, a much more achievable goal. The indoor version is also an easier step back into the sport, with more substitutions and less ground to cover.
Christopher is hoping a positive experience over the winter could lead to a rebirth of the Masters squad in the spring. He’s confident there are enough players of the appropriate age to rebuild the club.
“A bunch of them (on other teams) there now are getting close to where they want to play and the young fellas on their team want to play,” he said. “So they’re looking at maybe stepping away from their teams and starting a Masters team.”
Those players on the fence, plus the ones that have signed on to play indoor, have filled the glass past the halfway point in Christopher’s eyes. He can already sense the competitive juices are flowing in some of his teammates, which he says is the crucial first step.
“The more you’re away from it, the more you miss it,” he said. “I miss it ... I’d play outdoor tomorrow if there was enough fellas to play.
“Getting back into indoor gets the feel back into it,” he added. “This gives you that interest to keep playing.”
In the indoor setup, the team currently doesn’t have a concrete 35-and-over rule.
“That’s what we try to get,” Christopher said. “But it’s more of a gentleman’s agreement.”
Outside, it’s likely the age segregation would be firm, which obviously calls into question how competitive an older team could be in an increasingly younger-man’s league. Christopher, for one, doesn’t believe it to be an issue.
“It’s just getting people a little fitter,” he said. “Most of the time we’re playing very competitive in the first half, but in the second half people get lazy, the mind gets tired and they start making mistakes they wouldn’t make in the first 10 minutes.”
A Curling Ranger for over 20 years, Christopher then spent another decade or so with the Masters, before winding down his outdoor career with the West Side Monarchs.
Or so he thought.
Once the indoor league runs its course, likely sometime in April, plans will begin for the Kickoff Cup, the exhibition event that signals the start of the outdoor season. That’s when Christopher feels he’ll get a true indication of how likely a return to the outdoor game will be for him and his fellow Masters.
“If we can put a Masters team in the Kickoff Cup, that’ll give you can idea of what kind of commitment there is for people playing in the summer,” he said. “That’s when we can get a feel for what’s going on.”
The following is a summary of the other league game on Wednesday night:
Steers Insurance Curling Rangers 10,
Sorrento Tactics FC 3
Lyle Griffin (5), Colin Lynch, Eric Bourgeois, Dennis Bellows, Brandon McGrath and Matt Carew bulged the twine for the Rangers.
Lance Ereaut, Doug Warren and Jordan McKay replied in the losing cause.
Jay Johnson earned the win in goal, with the Tactics deploying several goalkeepers throughout the defeat.
The Rangers are 3-0 so far this season, followed by the Monarchs Black at 2-1. The Monarchs Gold are 1-0, with Stephenville racking up a 1-1 record thus far. The Tactics are 1-2 on the year, followed by the Under-18s and the Masters, both at 0-2.