When the Canadians start rioting, you know the Apocalypse is nigh.
I hope and trust my Canadian friends will forgive me, but when I heard about the ‘riot’ in Vancouver, following the Stanley Cup final game defeat to the Boston Bruins (0-4, so no argument there), I just had to get down on all fours and throw up the 20 pints of heavy (a Scottish beer) I’d ingested, as usual, that evening.
I mean, come on guys…. Canada? Riots in the streets?
The Afghanis/Tunisians/Egyptians/Yemenis, Greeks, football fans anywhere, will be cracking up. And as for the Taliban? Having recently named a new messiah, ah, leader, they’ve suddenly got a whole new continent to scour for recruits.
The Canucks, and I don’t just mean the guys from Vancouver in padded suits, with their names on the back, wielding curved sticks, and their fans (sorry, that was their fans), are having a collective heart attack about this little skirmish with the boys in blue.
Evidence of which is an email I just received from a pal, a Vancouver resident, pleading with me that, really, they are all nice guys. As we already knew.
Which is why there is endless vicarious pleasure in this.
Where’s Michael Moore when you need him?
In Bowling For Columbine, his rant on gun control (lack of) in the USA, the Fat Bespectacled One in the Baseball Cap made much capital of the fact that Canadians own (far more) guns per head of population than the Yanks, yet unlike their killing cousins south of the border don’t blow away their pals on the slightest whim, eg, the loss of a hockey game.
In case Hugh Jones (London Marathon winner 1982) has another go at me for writing a piece which is not about running, I’d better quickly get to Ben Johnson. Which I suspect is the last time the national psyche (Canada) was so trampled in the tarmac.
Just two days after Big Bad Ben© had downed the prospective Senate candidate for New Jersey, Carl Lewis (false start already), Ben was busted for drugs. The rest you know.
There was a rumour at the time, which I dearly hoped was true, that one of the Canadian dailies ran a banner headline, Thanks A Lot, You Bastard. That would show Fleet St! But try as I might, I can’t find it. But at least the rumour shows the right spirit. And if any of my readers north of the border has pictorial evidence of that measured assessment of the Jamaican-born Johnson, please forward?
But one thing (at least) is gratifying for the likes of me, who have made a living out of sport for the last few decades; and it is that Bad Government, Bad Weather, Bad Neighbours, the Canadians take it all in their stride.
But beating brother Yank, and then getting exposed as a druggie; or even worse, losing in the national game to the boys down south? Cue national soul-searching, then the riots.
The Vancouver fans do have ‘form,’ in this respect. They did the same thing back in 1994, when they lost, again in game seven, to the New York Rangers.
And some of the press pundits in Canada are suggesting that the G20 riots in Toronto almost exactly a year ago presaged this latest blood-letting. But you’ve only got to say G20, and there’s a riot, and the likelihood is that those rioters were imported anyway.
But wait! After this latest fracas, what do I discover? Even the Bruins website reveals that there are more Canadians (regular first-teamers) on the Boston squad than the Vancouver one.
So this was, in effect a local derby, notwithstanding the fact that a continent – and a large one at that – separates the two cities.
So when ©, the sprinter formerly known as Ben Johnson wins, then loses the Olympic title, there is a judicial enquiry and an endless bout of soul-searching.
But when one bunch of Canadians beats another bunch of Canadians, on ice, there are riots.
Is that what we mean by progress?