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  • Pointed perspective – from the past


    It is lashing rain this morning in Toronto. One of those Great Lakes torrents that takes its sweet time getting here, and then just soaks and soaks and soaks.

    I’m safely holed up in East York, miles and miles from BMO Field, but I can readily picture the scene down there.

    Even under syrupy gray clouds, the red plastic seats glisten brightly. The plastic turf, deep dark green, looks older and more jagged than it did a month ago. Surrounded by concrete, hemmed in by highways, and lashed pitilessly by unending crosswinds, our fairy tale gem of a little soccer park just wouldn’t be a very pleasant place to spend the morning.


    The mayor who threw the block that sealed the deal, avid Toronto FC fan David Miller, announced last week he won’t be running for re-election. He’s done what he could do, but his money men are said to be moving on. That’s fatal in these parts. Miller remains a huge and vocal fan of the soccer club.

    I’m sitting here, trying to get past all the myriad woes and setbacks Toronto FC have endured – many self-inflicted – in this messy, mediocre MLS campaign of 2009. I’m looking for a different angle, trying to see what shines, even as the odds for Toronto making the post-season get as sopping and soggy as the weather outside.

    I think I’ve found one!

    Let’s journey back to April 7, 2007, the night Toronto FC played its very first official match, a 2-0 loss to Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. I watched that game at the Madison pub on frat row at the north end of the University of Toronto campus, surrounded by an incredibly loud U-Sector fan group. I’ve been running with them ever since.

    It’s TFC ’07 fan, I believe, who can show the way to optimism now.


    TFC ’07 fan: What happens in year three?

    Me, now: Not clear yet. Three games left, and they’re on the outside looking in.

    TFC ’07 fan: Who’s the coach?

    Me, now: A young guy from Luton Town you’ve never heard of.

    TFC ’07 fan: How did that happen?

    Me, now: He took over after Mo Johnston fired the old guy from Luton Town you’ve never heard of.

    TFC ’07 fan: What the @#&$&@#$?

    (The pub roars with a Mo Johnston song. Hard to get exact words, but even back then, it’s not completely complementary.)

    TFC ’07 fan: Do we have Dwayne DeRosario?

    Me, now: Yes.

    (The pub explodes in cheers and song.)

    TFC ’07 fan: Do we have Adrian Serioux and Ali Gerba?

    Me, now: We certainly do.

    (More song.)

    Me, now: Not only that, but Nana Attakora can play!

    TFC ’07 fan: Of course he can!

    (Nana! Nana!)

    Me, now: There’s more. Why don’t you ask me … the question.

    TFC ’07 fan: Which question?

    Me, now: THE question.

    TFC ’07 fan: No … it can’t be!

    Me, now: Ask.

    (It’s gone all quiet. Very tense.)

    TFC ’07 fan: There’s no freaking way!!

    Me, now: Only one way to know for sure.

    (Dangerous silence)

    TFC ’07 fan: Julian … DeGuzman?


    Me, now: Yes.

    (The pub absolutely freaking explodes! People leaping, floor lurching, beer flying, back slaps, songs, roars, disbelief, elation. It’s five minutes on the clock before anyone can hear anyone else speak.)

    TFC ’07 fan: No WAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!

    Me, now: Yes. He arrived two games ago.

    TFC ’07 fan: And?

    Me, now: A bad loss and a needless tie.

    TFC ’07 fan: Why?

    Me, now: Long story. I’ve been on it all year, and I’m getting tired.

    TFC ’07 fan: It’s okay. It’s going to be great!

    Me, now: You think so?

    TFC ’07 fan: DeRo? DeGuzman? Are they long-term contracts?

    Me, now: Yes and yes.

    TFC ’07 fan: Locked. We’re a playoff team. We’re contenders.

    Me, now: It’s looking bad in year three.

    TFC ’07 fan: Then we’ll do it in year four. On grass, too!

    Me, now: It’s happening. Looks pretty inevitable.

    TFC ’07 fan: Those guys? On grass? That’s all we’ll ever need.

    Me, now: Thanks. I needed to hear that.

    TFC ’07 fan: Cheer up, buddy. And keep up the good writing. You shouldn’t be at Sportsnet, dude. You should be with Larry Millson at the Globe and freaking Mail!

    Me: Nice thought, but there’s no way. Those guys don’t even know I exist.

    (Song, joy and bawdy chants pound through the pub till all hours of the morning.)


    Yeah, I think that about gets it.

    If opening-night TFC fan knew what we have now, he would be ecstatic. Away from the day-to-day frustrations of following this team, he would loudly and blissfully believe the future is secure – and bright.

    And on this drenching gray day of wind and lashing rain, I don’t have any desire or energy at all to disagree.

    Just deliver the miracle to the centre spot at BMO Field, and let the rain pour down.

    (And – please – make sure someone signs for it.)


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