Ex-Linfield duo enjoying their new lives in Edmonton

Albert Watson

It sounds like the beginning of a bad pub joke: Two Irish guys walk up to a police constable, and the officer tells them to get in the back of the van.

This happened to Albert Watson and Daryl Fordyce last week. Newly arrived from Belfast, the pair decided to ask a police officer for directions — instead, they got a ride to their destination.

Canada is a new world to the pair — and they’re hopeful to make a mark on the Canadian soccer team. Watson has captained Northern Ireland’s U-17, U-18 and U-23 squads. He was part of an Irish select squad that faced Manchester United last year. Fordyce scored in his debut for Northern Irish side, Linfield FC, in a Champions League qualifier against Belarus’s BATE Borisov (see the UEFA match report HERE). Like Watson, he represented his country at various youth levels.

Now, both are looking to make FC Edmonton’s roster. Both are on trial with the club, after telling Linfield they were leaving Northern Ireland to see if they can make better lives for themselves.

Daryl Fordyce

“I just think we both wanted to start new lives,” said Fordyce. “With Linfield, we were at the top of soccer in Northern Ireland, there was really no other place to go. Yes, maybe we could have moved to Scotland or England, but the lifestyle is about the same as Belfast. There were no real opportunities for us in Belfast, and there’s a bit of trouble going on in Belfast right now.”

So far, Fordyce and his wife and Watson and his fiancée are stunned by just how welcoming Canadians can be. They said that Edmonton is very different than Belfast, with even strangers on the street willing to help the newbies find their way around town.

Fordyce said he thinks both he and Watson can bring some special qualities to FC Edmonton. Both have lots of international experience — and even playing in Champions League qualifiers is invaluable in the development of a footballer.

“Getting the chance to trial here is a great opportunity,” said Fordyce. “I’m an attacking player, and I want to be on the ball. I like having the ball at my feet in tight situations. I’m creative and I want to score as many goals as I can for the club.”

If Fordyce brings the style, Watson brings the brawn.

“I’m a no-nonsense defender,” he said. “I defend first, play after. I know that I am there to defend first and foremost. I’m strong using my head and I feel that I am very quick.”

Of course, the fact that he’s worn the captain’s armband for his country — even at the youth levels — will mean that he’ll be comfortable in a mentoring role with the Eddies.

When they left Linfield, manager David Jeffrey was disappointed he’d lose the two players. (CLICK HERE) But Watson said there’s no ill will between the players and their old club.

“Really, they were brilliant about it, they were so helpful,” said Watson. “Linfield is a class club. They respect their players. They see their players as people, not just as commodities.”


About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.