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Caig Liking BC........

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British goalkeeper Caig liking British Columbia

May 3, 2007

By Allan Smart Special to PA SportsTicker

It has been a long journey from Cumbria to Canada for Tony Caig.

At 33, Caig felt he had seen enough of the United Kingdom leagues. The goalkeeper played in the lower divisions with Carlisle United and Blackpool, had tasted life in the English Premiership with Newcastle and Charlton and had a spell with Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League, clocking up nearly 400 games in all.


So it was no surprise to see him opting for a change of scene last season when the Vancouver Whitecaps of the United Soccer League came calling.

The lure of playing soccer in one of the world's favorite cities was too much to ignore, especially when the other option was a return to England's lower divisions. And Caig hasn't looked back since.

"It was a case of been there, done that, and this offer was too good to walk away from," Caig said. "It was a new opportunity for me and my family and something we wanted to do. It was a big move, though."

He was not wrong. Life in Canada is very different from his northern England hometown of Whitehaven, West Cumbria, where grey clouds and rain are commonplace.

Caig now lives near Grouse Mountain in a postcard setting. His bungalow and sport utility vehicle are paid for by the club. Nice work if you can get it!

"Obviously, we miss our family and friends but to be honest we are loving it out here," he said. "It's hard not to enjoy the active, outdoor lifestyle. We are really enjoying ourselves, it's far more relaxed and the biggest difference is that everybody is friendly always smiling and saying hello.

"We went back home (to Cumbria) at Christmas and it just seemed grey and people were less enthusiastic. The outdoor life is great here. We took the kids up Grouse Mountain the other day to play in the snow on the snow tubes."

The Whitecaps won the USL title last season for the first time in 25 years as Caig set a club record for shutouts. Not bad for a first season with a new club in a new country.

"Yeah, we finished fourth and won the playoffs, so we ended up as champions," he recalled modestly. "It was a great experience. The playoffs were great, we played away at Rochester who finished top, but we beat them at their place in the final watched by 15,000."

The Whitecaps are expecting to move to a new stadium, and there is speculation about them joining MLS, the top level of American soccer.

The club already has arranged a friendly match at the 60,000-seat BC Place Stadium against the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS - David Beckham's new team - in October to assist their promotion of soccer in Canada.

Galaxy manager Frank Yallop and Whitecaps director Bob Lenarduzzi, former Canadian national soccer team members, worked out the deal.

"It's good public relations as we are getting a new stadium and it's good for our club and the game in general over here," Caig said. "They are expecting a sellout at the stadium."

Facing star names is something Caig has had to get used to. In his first season, he played against Brazilian World Cup winner Romario, who was with Miami at the time.

And with Beckham on the agenda, there are likely to be a few more highlights before his Canadian adventure comes to an end.

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Guest Jeffery S.

This article was featured on Yahoo sports last week and seems to have got a lot of readership.

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"Galaxy manager Frank Yallop and Whitecaps director Bob Lenarduzzi, former Canadian national soccer team members, worked out the deal."

I find it funny that neither is credited with coaching our national team in this article, only with the slightly more anonymous "member" tag. Maybe everything does come around in the end.

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