Wanderers superfan Mama Searl surprises players with home cooked meals
May 19, 2021
Halifax Wanderers players got a scrumptious surprise last week when Season Seat Member Missy Searl saw her home-cooked meals delivered to players who have been in lockdown for the last couple weeks to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Owning Season Seats in Section 104, also known as the ‘Aqua Ocean’ section, Missy attended most matches at the Wanderers Grounds with her son, Chris Searl, who is also an avid Wanderers Supporter.
“Daniel and I are lucky to have Missy as our mother – what makes us most proud is how many people call her ‘Mom’, ‘mum’ or ‘mama’,” explains Chris. “She loves everyone like they’re her own.”
This is part of the reason Missy has earned the nickname “Mama Searl”. It’s also not the first time Searl has cooked for the Wanderers, taking players in during the 2019 season as regular dinner guests.
In a Wanderers Wednesday Q&A with CanPL.ca’s Marty Thompson, Searl discusses continuing the tradition of providing Wanderers players with food, reveals what was on the menu, and how she’s doing her part to make the players feel welcome in Halifax.
Marty Thompson: First thing’s first – What was on the menu last week?
Missy Searl: A bunch of stuff! We have vegans and players taking part in Ramadan so we did a full halal dish and vegan pad thai. I promised my lovely friend Peter [Schaale] some German food – fun currywurst and some German veggies and potato salad – they have a really awesome hot potato salad that I grew up on. Just gave them a mix and match but also made sure, you know, I don’t give them bad food.
I do this really yummy Caribbean chicken so I had to cook that of course…
MT: You made Alex Marshall the jerk chicken while he was in quarantine before the Island Games, right? Didn’t he say it was the best he had ever had?
MS: I’m gonna tell you right now – that compliment brought me to my knees. He said it was the best jerk chicken he had ever had and I was like, ‘excuse me what?’ This is a guy that was probably weaned on it in Jamaica. I was floored. I did it as authentic as I possibly could and it was a hit.
MT: Well, what was the reaction from the guys from this recent dropoff?
MS: Well, we loaded out at about 10am and I went back to work. At lunch time I started getting all these messages on Instagram – everyone ate their food right away!
Chirstian [Oxner] said he had to keep it away from his family – actually I got a few pouty face emojis from Jan (Michael Williams) since he wasn’t on my player list! I hooked him up with some beer from a brewery though so he was happy.
Some of the players that I promised I would actually cook for at some point were really happy. I had newer players reach out to me to say thanks saying ‘hey, I’ve heard about your cooking’ sending nice messages so that was special.
MT: What compels you to cook for players?
MS: I was raised in a military family – we lived with no extended family wherever we were posted. So my mom and my dad always brought young military guys home and fed them on the holidays that couldn’t go home on leave. I guess this is me doing the same thing for these guys that have not only come here, but have had to go through the rigors of the pandemic.
I’ve always thought that people who are away from their home, as a community, we should be embracing them. Homesickness doesn’t always have to look like depression. A home cooked meal, when at the right time, can feel just like a hug.
You mentioned Alex and I wasn’t there when he got to eat his food because he was isolated, but when I think about how he ate that and got little taste at home. That’s just something that my parents put in me, is to make sure that everybody always feels that they’re at home – that they are welcome.
I really really feel our community has done a great job making this team feel welcome – from the first game they played on May 4, 2019.
We were in one of the sponsor’s bars that day and I’ll never forget when the players walked in – we were screaming for them and they had only played one game. It was almost like they’ve been here forever.
I want them to feel at home here so I’ll keep doing it.
MT: What are the plans for the future?
MS: I had been kind of hoping I could do a buffet or something like that if the COVID-19 numbers died down – I even bought the containers with the little heaters. That would have been nice at training or something. When the pandemic started to go to hell in a handbasket, I messaged the club and we went with these little drop offs.
Hopefully by the end of this we can get the players in one place for a big meal – it sounds like they will appreciate that!