Sunday, 8 August 2010

Abbotsford Mariners (Canada)

The Mariners are a Canadian club from the city of Abbotsford in British Colombia. Strictly speaking it's part of the wider Vancouver Metropolitan Area, although is a distinct and seperate city. Despite their Canadian nationality, they currently sit in the USL Premier Development League - the fourth tier of the US football league system - where they play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference, alongside teams like British Colombia and the Washington and Oregon states in the USA.

Despite football being popular as a played sport in this part of the world, there's is not a long history. The club was formed in 2003, as Abbotsford Rangers, changing it in 2007 to represent the parent organisation who owned their franchise. Before their foundation there had been a few clubs in the area battling to get accepted into the PDL, including the quaintly-named Abbotsford 86ers Select, and Abbotsford Athletes in Action. In all their eight seasons they've been constant mid-table warriors, except in 2006, when they were division champions, making it as far as the Conference semi-final play-offs. Sadly they went no further after they were beaten 3-2 by California's Orange County Blue Star, despite being two goals up at one point.

They play their home games at the 1200 capacity Bateman Park stadium, that they share with the Fraser Valley Cascades college team. Despite the size of their ground, and indeed their catchment area, they only average gates of around 150, and these have been declining season-on-season, despite the decent football being played. It must be remembered though that if anything, football is the fourth sport in the area, so hopefully their gates will start rising as the popularity of the game increases locally.

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