Got a coat and will travel. Halifax superfan will complete CPL stadium bingo card

TORONTO — Denton Froese is hard to miss at Halifax Wanderers FC games. Dressed in a blue coat, boots, tricorn hat and with the Wanderers flag on his face, Froese is the unofficial ambassador for the Canadian Premier League team.

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

Dressed in a blue coat, boots and tricorn 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 – without the giant flag deemed a “security risk” by airlines – will tick off the last CPL venue on his list when he watches Halifax play York United.

Froese, whose name is pronounced “Phrase,” is looking forward to mingling with fans at York Lions Stadium in Toronto.

The rivals’ fans have always been “friendly and courteous,” said Froese, known as Denton the Privateer after the 1882 Privateers fan group in Halifax.

“They have always welcomed me with open arms when I have been there. In return, I try not to be the kind of fan they regret inviting,” he added.

His CPL travels began in Winnipeg at a Valour FC game during the league’s inaugural 2019 season. Since then, he has attended games in Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa and Langley and Langford, BC.

Originally from Regina, Froese grew up watching the CFL’s Roughriders, but when his job with Defence Research and Development Canada took him to Halifax, he became a Wanderers season ticket holder on day one to support the new team.

“From the beginning, it was the atmosphere in the crowd that just swept me away,” he said. “It made me want to get more involved.”

“I always think of it like this: When you’re in a dance club, you always need one idiot to get on the dance floor first,” he added. “And then everyone else thinks, ‘OK, now I can dance too.’ So in 2019 I thought, we just need one person who is willing to be that idiot, dress up and give it their all so that other people can feel free to join in the party too.

“And I thought, ‘Why not me?'”

He estimates he has only missed three or four home games since then, and even takes part in the team’s U19 games.

Froese is currently in the thick of it. He publishes his own Wanderers fanzine. And in February, he enlisted the help of Halifax coach Patrice Gheisar via video at a quiz night to set the stage for his marriage proposal to his girlfriend Allison.

She happily said yes and accompanied Froese to Toronto. Their wedding date is set for July 2025.

“It will be on a weekday so it doesn’t clash with Wanderers games,” he noted with a chuckle.

“If 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 earlier coat, purchased at a local opera company’s costume sale, weighed a ton.

“It was very tiring to wear this in the hot weather,” he said.

So he had a second coat made that was “significantly airier.”

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

“When the fans in Calgary come together and start cheering for their team, you really get excited and want to get involved. Just like it works in Halifax.”

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

Halifax is 2-5-4 this season and languishing at the bottom of the table, but Froese’s support remains undiminished.

“You have to be willing to accept the game as it is and find everything you enjoy,” he argues. “If you’re just there to say you won, you’re going to be disappointed at some point.”

“And that’s what I try to do. I really try my hardest to find something that brings me joy in every game, no matter how dark it may feel.”

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

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press