The Sooke Celtics have undergone a facelift changing their name to the Loggers, folding from Division 1 and dropping down to Division 3 in the Senior Mens Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL). Veteran and former player/coach Steve Scott, handed over the coaching duties to retired former Celtic player Drew Porter. After a couple of weeks of pondering on whether or not to accept the challenge and commitment of coaching a Division 1 Celtic team that finished seventh in the league the previous year, Porter accepted.
“The seven returning Celtics can be well proud of themselves for staying and honouring their soccer roots within the club,” said Porter, something the new coach is grateful for.
“These guys could have easily been poached by teams in town so it’s a real credit to them. Not an easy chore for a player who is used to playing top flight soccer on the Island.”
The make-up of the new loggers team is a mix of seven remaining Celtics plus the amalgamated players from the Division 3 Loggers.
Porter has experienced all three facets of the game he refers to as “footie.” From player to player/coach to coach/referee, “There isn’t much left to try it has all come full circle for me here in Sooke. When I moved out to Sooke in 1991, the men’s team was in Division 4 or 5, I think. We had several successful years out here and we managed to move up the divisional ladder to Division 1, where at that time, big changes came to Sooke soccer. The team then changed gears and the name changed to the Celtics where quality players returned home to Sooke and bolstered the squad. That Celtics side was probably the best team that Sooke will see for some time to come. For me it was Sean Ebbs-Canavon, Steve Scott, Josh Jenkins, Kirk Snelling and Andy Dawson who were the Sooke player alumni responsible for bringing the wave of change and the successful Celtic years that followed here in Sooke. The Sooke Celtic players definitely deserve a mention because they brought quality, not only within themselves as players, but attracted solid players from town to follow them out to Sooke.
“Personally, it was a difficult time for me as a player,” Porter said, “I was realizing for the first time that the body just wasn’t capable of the pace of the game anymore. I think I was 35 at the time. Too fast for old legs I guess. A bitter pill to swallow the age thing but time to move on.”
For the next while Porter became a fan of the Celtics, played in the over 35’s league in town and started refereeing in the V.I.S.L.
However, as we all know, successful teams run their course and don’t last forever. Its always a bonus when you can attract good players from Victoria to play out here in Sooke but its never a true reflection of an all Sooke team. Eventually the cookie crumbles and you have to rebuild and start again.
“Its all come full circle,” says Porter. “I’m just starting where I left off some 20 years ago. This Loggers team is a true indication of what Sooke has to offer in terms of all players are from Sooke. Two weeks back we only had one practice before our first league game against Vantreights and lost our home opener to them 3-0. Things were a little Helter Skelter to say the least for the Loggers in their first outing.
“I just told the boys to treat that first league game like an exhibition game. After two solid practices this last week I had a better idea of where to put guys on the park. We came away with a 5-2 win over Gorge on the weekend, and a great overall performance. I was pleased the way we played compared to the week before. A huge improvement in our play in just one week. The feeling amongst the team right now is quite buoyant so we will just keep rolling with that.”
Porter notes that it’s early days but feels he has a team that shows great promise. “My four-year hiatus from the game was good for me, everyone needs a break, it all feels quite fresh again to be involved. One thing is for sure,” he says, “is that you never lose the love of the game.”