The Merchant Sailor

A blog covering the Canadian Premier League, Halifax Wanderers FC, and local Atlantic soccer.

Role: Creator and designer

September 2018 – present



What I Changed

Halifax is not a hotbed of Canadian soccer. The former professional players from the region can be counted on one hand. Back in 2008, I started one of the first soccer blogs based in Halifax, covering Atlantic university and college soccer, peaking with my live coverage of the 2009 CIS women’s nationals in Charlottetown read by hundreds of people–which is hundreds more than had ever followed Canadian university soccer before.

That project fell away when my plate got very full at The Dalhousie Gazette, but when the Canadian Premier League announced a professional club in Halifax in the summer of 2018, I couldn’t resist dusting off my old liveblogging tools.

“The Merchant Sailor” was created in a couple of hours before the kick-off of a major test event for the new Wanderers’ Grounds stadium in downtown Halifax. Since then, I’ve regularly broken news about Wanderers there while covering the team and analyzing the new league week in, week out. In keeping with my past roots covering the university game, I still do weekly coverage of AUS during the fall season and provide the country’s most in-depth analysis of the Canadian Premier League’s university draft, pulling together research and my own notes on hundreds of players.

My top posts–usually the annual season previews–regularly reach readerships in the thousands. For a Canadian soccer fan like me, it’s almost unbelievable that people are willing to follow, discuss, and read about the sport in Atlantic Canada.


What I Learned

In many ways, the blog has been a return to a role I love: writing and reporting about soccer. Although I’m still a creative at heart, and I still write fiction and make games, I did miss doing regular journalism.

Because I’d been away so long, and because I was creating a brand-new site and publication from scratch, the blog presented a great opportunity to flex my online writing voice and develop a slightly different persona in both analysis and the blog’s live event coverage. And although I’d used WordPress design tools many times, this was the first time I’d built a news site since working the Gazette.

The technology, too, has come a long way. When I started liveblogging in 2008, it was an alternative to wonky web streams (and even setting them up was a challenge). Now, with so much soccer being watched online, I’ve had to adapt my writing voice and reporting style a bit, providing more analysis and doing more to create a community during live events. As a result, many readers now return to the blogs after the fact to refresh or analyze a game’s events themselves.

There are all kinds of interesting parallels and takeaways there, I think, for game development. Soccer, for me, has always been beautiful in the way it permits nearly infinite strategic, dynamic agency within a very broad set of mechanical constraints. I’m grateful that I get to sit front row and watch a new group of Canadian players and coaches evolve and change the game in my hometown, and I look forward to continuing to cover the league in years to come.

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