July 14th, 2024

Have greatcoat will travel. Halifax super-fan set to complete CPL stadium bingo card

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on July 5, 2024.

TORONTO – Denton Froese is hard to miss at Halifax Wanderers FC games.

Dressed in a blue greatcoat, boots and tricorne hat and waving a Wanderers flag, Froese is the Canadian Premier League team’s unofficial ambassador. And on Saturday, the 48-year-old analytical chemist – minus the sizable flag, deemed a “security hazard” by airlines – will tick off the last CPL venue on his list when he takes in Halifax’s game at York United.

Froese, whose name is pronounced phrase, is looking forward to mixing with fans at Toronto’s York Lions Stadium.

Rival supporters have always been “friendly and welcoming,” said Froese, who is known as Denton the Privateer after the Privateers 1882 supporters group in Halifax.

“They’ve opened their arms whenever I’ve gone. In turn, I try not to be the sort of fan they regret having invited,” he added.

His CPL travels started in Winnipeg for a Valour FC game during the league’s inaugural 2019 season. He has since taken in games in Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa and Langley and Langford, B.C.

Originally from Regina, Froese grew up following the CFL’s Roughriders. But when his job with Defence Research and Development Canada took him to Halifax, he became a Day 1 Wanderers season ticket-holder to help support the new team.

“Right from the start it was the atmosphere of the crowd that just drew me in,” he said. “It made me want to get more involved.”

“The way I always like to think of it is when you’re at a dance club, it always takes one fool to get out on the dance floor first,” he added. “And then everybody else will think ‘OK, now I can dance too.’ So in 2019, I thought to myself, we just need one person willing to be that fool and dress up and go all out so that other people can feel free to celebrate as well.

“And I thought ‘Why not me?'”

He reckons he has only missed three or four home games since and even takes in the team’s under-19 outings

Froese is all-in these days. He publishes his own Wanderers fanzine. And in February, he elicited the help of Halifax coach Patrice Gheisar, via video on a trivia night, to set the stage for him to propose to his girlfriend Allison.

Happily, she said yes and is accompanying Froese to Toronto. They have set their wedding date for July 2025.

“It’s going to be on a weekday so that it’s not going to conflict with any Wanderers games,” he noted with a chuckle.

“When we have to worry about something borrowed and something blue, I think we know what the blue part is going to be,” he added.

Froese’s costume has evolved over the years. An early greatcoat, acquired from a local opera company’s costume sale, weighed a ton.

“It was very demanding to wear that one through the hot weather,” he said.

So he had a second coat made that was “a lot breezier.”

Froese says each of the stadiums he has visited has its own charm. But outside of his hometown Wanderers Ground, he has a soft spot for Cavalry FC’s ATCO Field.

“When the fans in Calgary get together and start cheering their team, you really feel like you’re swept in it and you want to take part. The same way that it works in Halifax.”

He also enjoys Pacific FC’s picturesque Starlight Stadium. “It’s the stadium that you could put on a postcard.”

Halifax is 2-5-4 this season, languishing in the league basement. But Froese’s support has not wavered.

“You have to be wiling to accept the game for what it is and find anything that you can enjoy,” he reasons. “If you’re only there to say that you won, it’s going to fall flat for you at some point.

“And so I do try that. I do sincerely try my hardest to find something to enjoy in every game, no matter how gloomy it may feel.”

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2024

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