Legends score with fans at ACC

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

Mark Hinkley figured he couldn't go wrong with red yesterday at the Legends of Soccer indoor tournament at the Air Canada Centre. The Hamilton resident wore a Manchester United sweater, cheered for Liverpool and brought a Canadian flag to cover all four competing teams in a round-robin of 16-minute games.

"These are guys I've only seen on TV or in fan magazines," the 28-year-old web designer said as he watched the old boys of the two great English teams battle in the six-a-side tourney.

"You can't help get drawn to this. It's a sport where fans matter to the club, not just as an extension of the marketing department who get charged $130 a seat."

But Hinkley also recognized some Canadian Professional Soccer League players and other familiar names among the two local sides. He was rewarded when indoor star Hector Marinaro Jr. led the Internationals through the preliminary, past Man U and into the final, where they lost 4-3 to Liverpool.

The crowd of 3,000 had a strong Liverpool flavour as anthems You'll Never Walk Alone and Scouser Tommy competed against Glory, Glory Manchester.

There are 1,700 members of the Liverpool supporters club in the GTA and Liverpool captain Phil Neal delighted them by giving the club the winning trophy before the two English clubs flew to Calgary for today's finale of this inaugural North American old boys' tour.

"We were nervous before we started, as ex-pros in a foreign land that has a lot of indoor soccer," Neal said. "But in our third game, we had to come back from 4-0 (to beat the CHIN Italian/Portuguese stars 5-4) to show we old boys still had it."

Mark Walters was the tournament's leading scorer with six goals, including one in the final against top-notch Canadian keeper Carmine Isacco. Marinaro and Joseph Majcher were Canadian team MVPs, with Jan Molby getting the nod for Liverpool and Newcastle loan John Beresford for Man U.

Promoter Howard Silver lamented that some Canadian stars stayed away because of threats of penalties from the Canadian Soccer Association, which refused to sanction the event. Silver claimed the CSA is sour because he refused to hand over 8 % of the gross before knowing if he'd break even.

"This was an event to promote the game and it's a shame it had to become political," Silver said.

But most fans came out to see some favourite English and Scottish players from their childhood.

"I used to see these guys live every week," Liverpool-born Hamilton project manager Colin Sheriff said as he sat with Welsh-born nephew Darren King. "They look a little grey and they've put on weight, but it's great to see them again."


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