By Garry Phenuff
It all started the third weekend in July 1974 when I was a linesman for the first annual Kimberley Beer Fest soccer tournament. I was lining a game Saturday morning and the Vernon team said to Clark Milner and me after the game, hey kids, keep your cleats on and grab a jersey, we’re short men.
We both grabbed a jersey and this is how my inauguration into the tournament began. This particular game was against the local Kimberley Athletics and had what turned out to contain some of the local legends of Kimberley soccer. Willy Kronsteiner in goal, Willie Ederer in the back and Hans Hammacher upfront led a very good squad back then. Ted Vogelaar, who all of Kimberley and Kootenay soccer should be grateful for, was the coach then and it was with Ted where it all began. The game itself was an eye opener for a 14 year old. I had a break away against Willie Kronsteiner and he almost broke me in two going for the ball. Later in the game Bruce Flegel would break his leg in a tackle. This was not fun soccer, this was soccer with intent.
I must have done all right in that game as Ted called me up as a 15 year old the next year to gain some experience and exposure to men’s soccer. After that, I played for the next 10 years with the Kimberley Athletics and had some of the best experiences of my life with the likes of Craig Robinson, Kim and Craig Park, Gene Berglund, Terry Ross and countless others that are too many to list.
All in all I was fortunate enough to play for four winning sides, two from Kimberley and two from Calgary. If my memory serves me correctly, the last time Kimberly won the tournament was back in 1985 and Jon McDonald, our goalie, was named MVP.
What was the same then as it is now is that the heat was vicious and it was a grueling weekend with six games being played to get through to the title and Kokanee was the beverage of choice.
I have brought us up to 1985 and still have another 30 years to tell as this will mark the 40th anniversary of my start into the tournament. In the interest of brevity I will skip most of the history, but you can catch me at the fields and I can fill you in on a few of the gaps.
What I am here to tell is that the tournament has meant a lot to me and created many great memories. My mother and father and sister were there watching the games from the beginning. As a player you can play for yourself or play for your team, but when your parents are there and are always there, you play for them.
Skipping ahead to 2006 I had the opportunity to play for Kimberley and with my two sons, Connor and Logan. The picture shown here is at Coronation Park and Logan was 14 and Connor was 16. They have played in every tournament since but still have a ways to go to catch the old man. I have had a great career but every athlete with half a brain knows when it is time to call it a day. Having said that “See you next year Kimberley”.