By Patrick Gibson
February 10th, 2022. For many, this was just a regular Thursday in the dreariest month of the year, but for the Ottawa soccer community, it was a landmark day. It marked the return of its prodigal son, Carl Haworth.
Carl is a key figure in Ottawa’s football history. But how did a kid born in Southport, England, and raised in Southern Ontario, become an Ottawa icon? His journey took him from playing with what is now L1Ontario side FC London, and was then drafted by the Montreal Impact in the 2012 supplemental draft. While he did play in some preseason fixtures and a few appearances with the reserve team, he ultimately never signed a contract in Montreal. After a trial with another USL side, Haworth’s career ultimately brought him to Ottawa when he signed with the Ottawa Fury in 2013 while they were still in a semi-pro league. He would go on to play with the Fury in the NASL from 2014 until their dissolution in 2019, racking up 159 appearances 26 goals.
His most impressive year was that final year, 2019, where he would seemingly score set pieces on a whim, and would go on to cement his position in Ottawa lore. He would manage to score 10 goals and 9 assists in 32 appearances in the USL. Unfortunately, that would be his last year with the Fury and the last year of the Fury, with the club folding following that season. He would move on to another USL team stateside, Indy Eleven, for the shortened 2020 and 2021 seasons. After those two brief years away, A new club had taken hold of Ottawa, and he was ready for a comeback.
Upon his return to Atletico Ottawa, there were a number of discussions as to how he would fit into the team’s overall game plan. Unselfish as ever, he passed on asking for his traditional number 9 for the 2022 season in favor of the number 45, which adds up to nine. He also took a more reserved role on the pitch, functioning primarily as a right-wing back more than the out-and-out right winger he had been for most of his career. While he did not feature in the line-up for the first few games, he did manage two vital assists in his first four matches for the club. The first saw him become the all-time leader in assists in the Voyageur’s Cup as his cross found the head of Malcolm Shaw to level the game against York United 1-1. His second would find the feet of Zach Verhoven for an 85th-minute winner against Valour. In all, Carl would appear in the final 21 regular season games and managed 3 assists in his first year in the red and white of Atletico Ottawa.
The 2023 season would unfortunately not pick up where it left off for Carl. Despite being named club captain, nagging knee injuries would keep Carl out of the lineup for the first 8 games. Even then, he was only introduced slowly into the lineup before finally getting his first start against Vancouver on June 17th. From there, Carl managed 5 goal contributions in his next 5 games, the best stretch he has had in an ATO jersey. This all led up to the crowning glory that was the 3-3 draw against York, Carl’s best day for his second club in Ottawa. The first goal was a brilliant move around Tass Mourdoukoutas before sending Niko Gianntsopoulous the completely wrong way to cut into the York United lead late in the first half. The second was something that Ottawa soccer fans had seen countless times before. An inswinging free kick from just outside the box into the top right corner of the York United goal, right in front of the dub. It was vintage Carl Haworth and fitting for a man who had done so much for this city.
If that is to be the final goal that Carl scores at TD Place, it would be the stuff of dreams. Of course, no one wants it to be. He has meant so much to this city beyond just the play on the pitch, as he’s worked with youth teams in Gloucester and been a champion for inclusivity in the sporting world through campaigns with We Can Play and Athlete Ally. He is a captain we can all be proud of. The 30 goals and 37 assists he’s managed to accrue in his time wearing a shirt representing this city is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his contributions, and it’s clear to me that these contributions won’t end once his playing career finishes. With the 8 professional years and one year of PDL play that Carl played for this city, we mean it when we call him one of our own. It’s sad that this may be the final time he graces the turf at TD Place as a professional player. Still, with a young one to look after and a truly admirable legacy already established, it’s a well-deserved retirement. With that, we say thank you, Carl, from everyone who has ever sat, or stood, at TD Place and seen you ply your craft. It would be an absolute disservice to bestow anyone else with the name “Mr. Ottawa”.
Having joined CCSG in 2022, Patrick started his footie career playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros around the same time. While the first pro team he supported was Manchester United, as soon as Atlético Ottawa came to town, he was immediately on board. His wealth of footie knowledge has been a constant asset, along with his role as caretaker for Atléti Wikipedia pages.