Denton the Privateer

“Back in 2019 there was a coworker of mine who was talking to me at work about the game and she was saying how there was even one fan who dresses up as a pirate,” remarks Denton Froese, a Wanderers Season Seat Member since 2019. “I honestly thought she was pulling my leg but about 4 minutes in I realized – oh my gosh, she actually doesn’t know it was me.”

You may have seen him waving his flag on Quinpool road before this year’s home opener – or on the front billboard of the Wanderers Fan Shop – or maybe in Section 105 at the Wanderers Grounds. Regardless of where you may have seen him, Denton brings an infectious smile and energy to the Wanderers community that transcends the game itself.

Fitted in a custom-made, Privateers 1882 outfit, Denton showcases the passion and joy he brings to every match.

“I now understand the whole ‘Superman puts on his glasses and becomes Clark Kent’ thing, because people see what they want to see. Nobody looks at a pirate and thinks about who he really is beneath it all.”

Like many Wanderers fans, Denton is ready to bring this energy to the Wanderers Grounds one last time in 2021 for the team’s final match of the regular season this Sunday, November 7th at 2pm.

It’s been two years of obstacles but Fans, you’ve been with us through it all! When the pandemic affected our 2020 season you followed us to Prince Edward Island. When it stalled at the beginning of 2021 you tuned in to matches at the Winnipeg bubble and when it affected our stadium seating plans you adapted and worked with us to ensure public health safety. 

Wanderers Fans, you are resilient and we couldn’t do this without you. You are the energy that drives the bus, the words of encouragement that raise us up, and the songs and chants that propel the players up the pitch.

Halifax, Nova Scotia - Aug 17, 2021: during the match between HFX Wanderers FC and AS Blainville at the Wanderers Grounds in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Trevor MacMillan/HFX Wanderers FC)
Halifax, Nova Scotia – Aug 17, 2021: during the match between HFX Wanderers FC and AS Blainville at the Wanderers Grounds in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Trevor MacMillan/HFX Wanderers FC)

Join us one last time in 2021 at the Wanderers Grounds for our Fan Appreciation match. This ones for you! There will be exclusive fan discounts including 30-80% off specific merch items as well as a player autograph session where you will receive a limited edition Wanderers team poster.

Although this Sunday will be our last home game at the Wanderers Grounds in 2021, this isn’t goodbye, it’s see you next season. As we reflect on the past year and how much we appreciate you, The Fans, we wanted to highlight some of the Wanderers Fan spirit.

Read on for an interview with the Wanderers very own Denton the Privateer.

Dylan Lawrence: Denton, great to finally have this chat with you. Let’s start with the biggest question – is the outfit a pirate or a privateer?

Denton Froese: It is of course a Privateer but I’m not going to stop and correct a 7-year-old boy who says, ‘Dad that’s a pirate’. I can live with it – and it works out pretty well because if you go back to the history, every privateer was a pirate with a letter of marque. Every privateer is a pirate to somebody and maybe that means every fan can be a privateer in their own way.

Can you share the back story of how Denton Froese became Denton the Privateer?

I didn’t pay too much attention to the soccer scene in Halifax but what I did pay a lot of attention to was downtown city development – paying attention to what new things were going on and what sort of events were happening. It was when I heard about the (Wanderers) that I thought, ‘that sounds interesting’. When I first bought my Season Tickets in 2019, I thought if I didn’t enjoy it I could raffle off my tickets to people at work. It was just curiosity and the desire to see something come to life in downtown Halifax and it was a real curiosity to see what could be done with the Wanderers Grounds which before that point was simply a very attractive vacant lot in the city. 

I also wanted to see what this March to the Match was. I was down there at (Rogers Square) and everyone else was gathered around and I didn’t have any costume but I was wearing a blue jacket before Garrett MacPhee ran up and shoves a horn into my hands and says ‘go crazy’. It made me think ‘oh, this is what the Supporters group is like’. It’s recruiting people and inviting them to take part without worrying about too much that was going on. I didn’t feel intimidated at all and I thought it was a marvelously inclusive thing and that (worked out) very quickly as I realized they were all a bunch of very friendly people and that’s how it went from there.

I love that. I’m still amazed by our Supporters and their willingness to invite others into this community. What in particular do you think sparked this unique group to form and get behind the Wanderers?

It is of course a lens through which you view the city. A lens shines in both directions and it’s not really what you see when you’re looking into the Wanderers Grounds but it’s what you see outside when you’re in and we use that Wanderers Grounds as a lens – not to be inspected, but to project ourselves to the rest of the Country. It was Halifax’ chance to make a statement to the rest of the country and connect with the National discussion on that level. You can’t help but put your best foot forward when you’re trying to make that impression and I think we did.

Denton the Privateer makes his way to the Wanderers Grounds in his full outfit. (Paul Morris)

Incredible! Aside from the Supporters group at large, what has it been like for you being able to wear the outfit and share that energy with others in the community?

When I’m dressed up at the games and I end up walking home in my full regalia it’s always fun because the game is over and I’m just walking downtown and I will always get a few people who politely ask ‘what’s this all about’. Every now and then I’ll get a tourist from out of town who will say ‘I didn’t know there was a soccer team here’. It’s always a great feeling to see how many people have that curiosity. It’s rewarding when people come up and ask where the nearest parking is or where Gate E is, but it’s also great to see how the questions are shifting from ‘what is this’ to ‘can you tell me more’ because they’re already familiar with the Wanderers and want to learn more.

We really do appreciate you being such a good ambassador for the Wanderers. What would you say it is about sports that unifies people in this way?

I think an underrated aspect of professional sports is not just that it connects players and connects different cities, it also connects you through time. Nowadays we live in a society where a TV series is released and you binge watch the entire series in 5 hours. Or every box office opening weekend is the most important thing. But when you talk about sports, every week there is a game and every week there is something to look forward to. There’s a continuing narrative where you can feel the ebbs and flows as it goes through the crowd. 

There are no spoilers – if I’m talking about the Wanderers right now, people know that it’s different than the Wanderers who were playing in The Kick-Off or in the Island Games – we can all move forward with the team. In the context of the pandemic, we’ve spent over a year and a half detached from our routines and not really noticing whether it’s a Thursday or a Saturday, not really feeling like it’s March or April, wondering where the time goes yet not noticing how it passes. So to actually have something to think about like the schedule, it gave us a path to move forward.

I remember when I was in university I would be waiting in line for the midnight release parties of CDs and nowadays with Spotify it’s just clicking on a playlist. There’s still great music out there, but my algorithmically generated playlist will look nothing like yours. When we’re at the Wanderers Grounds we’re all on the same page.

I’m happy you brought music into the conversation. I find with soccer in particular, music plays such an important role in the atmosphere of a match. Compared to other sporting events, what do you think it is about music and soccer that works so well together?

You’re absolutely right it’s incredibly unique to the sport and it’s something that draws you in. Part of it is how intimate soccer is that there aren’t that many sky box seats, or a giant screen replaying everything, or even play-by-play announcing. More than any other sport except maybe golf, soccer would be a very quiet sport if you didn’t have the songs. You think back to the island Games it was fascinating listening to all the players yell but it was a bit eerie. It was so easy to see that there was something missing and just how much the crowd was needed for those games in Charlottetown. The sport really needs something to fill in those quieter moments.

The other thing is that soccer is constant – (the clock) keeps on ticking and there’s never any pause of seventh inning stretch – it’s that consistency that almost asks the audience to find a way to get involved and be engaged for the whole game. Anything can happen at any given time and it convinces the fans to stay engaged throughout the entire match. It’s the songs that keep the pace throughout the whole (game) and that (the fans) are doing their part to market the game as it goes. It’s a beautiful feeling and it really creates community more than any other sort of fireworks display or half-time mascot slam dunk contest.