London Free Press: Gauss Deserves Cup Glory

Gauss deserves Cup glory

By MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press
September 3rd, 2003

Harry Gauss was ecstatic for his father Max.

He was thrilled for his players.

And, as expected, his thoughts were never far from his son Paul, who died at the age of 19 almost five years ago.

Gauss might have wanted to dedicate London City's Canadian Professional Soccer League open Canada Cup victory Monday to all of them. No one could fault him for doing just that.

But he should take a little time over the next few days to look at what he has brought to the table and what his contribution is to this team.

"My dad is it," Gauss says. "There's no London City without him. It's his money, his passion. He inflicted this on me."

That may well be. But, truth be told, Harry, without you hanging in when just about every other sane person in the world would have quit years ago, there would be no London City, either. It wasn't just the constant financial battle or the constant political wrangling that seems such a part of soccer, it wasn't just the stress of having to work so hard when there appeared to be so little return for that investment.

There also was having to survive the personal tragedy of his son's death.

"When they tell you that time heals, that's a lie."

It was a very emotional Gauss who watched his team win the tournament.

"Nothing this team does is easy," he said. "We get eliminated from the tournament and then we get to hold the tournament. We play three games in four days. We win with 10 men on the field. From the time Tonino Commisso was sent off, I was a mess. I was an emotional wreck. I was happy for so many people."

London City completed a most improbable run to the trophy and $10,000 prize. Eliminated early in the tournament, they were granted a berth when the league decided to hold the tournament in London.

That decision began a series of events with the Ottawa Wizards at the centre of the controversy. The defending CPSL champions were supposed to hold the event, but couldn't reach agreement with the league. The league removed them from the tournament after Ottawa voiced concerns, among them having to play three games in less than 48 hours. An injunction to stop the tournament failed, but that doesn't mean the legal aspects are done.

"I'm trying to correct what's wrong with the CPSL, not tear it down," said Wizards owner Omur Sezerman.

In fact, on learning of London City's victory, Sezerman extended an invitation to London City.

"We play them on Sept. 14 in Ottawa and the game is already sold out," Sezerman said. "We have enough to double sell the tickets. But I would like to challenge London City to another game between us with the date, location and referees to be mutually agreed upon."

The prize for the winner shouldn't come as much of a surprise. It's $10,000.

It seems there's more confrontation in the offing. The Wizards are holding an OZ Optics invitational tournament in October. The five CPSL teams who originally qualified for the Canada Cup are invited.

That leaves London out.

Sezerman said he doesn't need the CPSL's permission to run the tournament.

This is what Stan Adamson, the league's administrator said: "The Ottawa Wizards can conduct their own tournament if they wish, if it meets the rules and regulations of the CPSL. We'd certainly want to take at look at that. Omur has to get approval by the league to hold the tournament. We would frown on them leaving out one team if it's done for vindictive reasons."

None of that really troubles Gauss. He plans to tell Sezerman what he can do with the winner-take-all invitation. Gauss is going to let the players enjoy the money as they travel for games in Ottawa and Montreal. He isn't worried about the criticism his team heard about getting into the tournament through the back door.

For once, there is a real return on the investment of time and effort Gauss put into soccer.

And well deserved it is.

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