By Alex Rickman, Capilano University
With the 2022 FIFA World Cup taking place in Qatar from November 20 to December 18 2022, this is a great moment to reflect back on North Vancouver’s rich soccer history.
Located just off Jones Avenue in North Vancouver, Kinsmen Field may look unassuming, just one of many soccer pitches on the North Shore. But despite its unassuming profile, Kinsmen Field has a rich history going back to the 1930s as it was once home to the great, but often forgotten, North Shore United Football Club.
History of the club
If you asked most North Vancouver residents today what they know about North Shore United, most wouldn’t be able to tell you much. Some folks wouldn’t even be aware that they existed. However, back in their day, North Shore United was one of the best soccer teams in not only the province, but in all of Canada. The team regularly packed the now lost grandstand at Kinsmen Field, and would often have crowds coming to greet them at the train station when they would return home from out-of-town games.
But just how good was North Shore United?
In their heyday in the 1930s, North Shore United was one of the best teams in this country. In 1938, North Shore United were crowned the Dominion men’s soccer champions, and, after several years without a national playoff due to the second world war, won it again over a decade later in 1949.
These teams included some of the best soccer players BC has ever offered until players like Christine Sinclair came along. This includes BC Sports Hall of Fame members Trevor Harvey and Jimmy Spencer.
After his playing career, Jimmy Spencer would go on to be an important member of the community serving as chief of the fire brigade for the City of North Vancouver from 1958-1975.
In addition, Spencer did quite a bit of work to develop youth soccer in North Vancouver, working as director of the North Shore Juvenile Soccer Association from 1945-1976, as well as holding the same position with the BC Juvenile Soccer Association from 1962-1972.
Other Notable Soccer Clubs
Kinsmen Field has played host to many North Vancouver soccer teams over the years, including the North Shore Colts in the 1980s, who famously beat 2 European giants Ajax and Celtic in friendlies at BC Place, and Altitude FC, North Vancouver’s team in the new League1 BC.
While Kinsmen Feild may look unassuming and the original grandstand is lost to history, looking back at the history of the field you can see that Kinsmen is more than just another North Vancouver soccer pitch. It was once home to what was once arguably the best soccer team Canada had to offer.
During the spring of 2022, students were invited to explore the Museum of North Vancouver to create editorial content inspired by MONOVA’s Archival and Museum collections. Watch for other stories from the students to roll out over the coming months.
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