Wow. In my life I've been to dozens of Blue Jays games, dozens of Maple Leafs games and dozens of Raptors games. I've been to Marlies games, Argo games and WWF cards. I've been to all of these live events in this city, but I've never experienced what I experienced this afternoon at BMO Field.
For over 90 minutes of play, everyone was on their feet singing, chanting, dancing, stomping and cheering. It was as if everybody was reading from the same handbook. When the players are introduced, the public address announcer just says the Toronto FC player's first name and we all yell their last name. At the 23-minute mark, we all sang a song for Danny Dichio, because he scored the franchise's first ever goal at the 23-minute mark. There were lots of customs and practices to obey.
The songs were awesome. There were songs for certain players, such as the spin on "Hey Jude" for Maurice Edu or the call and response between sections for Marco Velez. There were anti-Galaxy songs, such as the super catchy "F*ck Galaxy" and love songs for Toronto. There was a song to start things off, a chant to remind the opposition "this is our home", anti-Beckham songs and even "Seven Nation Army". My favourite songs were the anti-ref songs which we sang whenever a call went against us. There was even this French question we'd ask the section across the field and then they'd answer and we'd both do this dance. That one is tough to explain... but super fun.
In addition to the singing, chanting and dancing, there was also a soccer game. I was worried it would be a boring 0-0 game, but I actually got to see two Toronto FC goals and at least six other solid scoring chances. I was stunned by how dominant we were and how much offence there was. It could easily have been 5-0 for the good guys.
Thanks for the ticket, Elvis. I'm seriously starting to think I was wrong about this franchise. I didn't think a professional soccer team would make it in this city, but today I witnessed 20 thousand young, enthusiastic fans treat the event with all the ritualistic fervent of a religious gathering. This was their church, and there was no sign of impending apathy.
Here are dozens of photos I took this afternoon during my very first Toronto FC game as we beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0.
I'm still fairly new to Blackberry Nation. I primarily use my Blackberry to jump on the web and as a phone. I've never really used it to send text messages, but today it vibrated and when I picked it up thinking I had a phone call, I had such a message. "Dude - want to go to the TFC game today?"
It was from a number I didn't recognize, so I replied with three simple words. "Who is this?" It turns out it was my buddy Elvis and he had an extra ticket to this afternoon's game against the Los Angeles Galaxy at BMO Field. I've never been to a Toronto FC game at BMO Field, so I took him up on the offer.
It turns out there were a few rules. Firstly, he wanted me to know we'll be sitting with the rowdiest of the rowdy and there will be plenty of boorish behaviour and swears galore. No problem! Heck, I wouldn't want to watch my first soccer game in any other environment. Elvis also told me to wear red. This was going to be a problem.
I thought about every piece of clothing I own and absolutely none of it is red. I'm more of a black, blue and grey kind of guy. After going through everything, I finally found a shirt that will help me fit in. It's the 2007 Oasis Zoo Run shirt I got when I ran their 10k race last fall. It's red and it'll do.
I'm taking my camera and I'll be taking notes. Everyone I know who's been to a Toronto FC game raves about the atmosphere and experience. I'm starting to think it won't matter that I'm not a soccer guy.
I should disclose right off the bat that I don't follow soccer except for a few weeks every four years when the World Cup takes place. Furthermore, I've never played an organized game of soccer in my life, so it's no wonder I don't appreciate the game. I just don't dig the sport.
Having declared this fact openly, it's worth noting the big local soccer story that just hit the wire. With the first overall pick in their inaugural Major League Soccer draft, Toronto FC today chose nimble Californian midfielder Maurice Edu.
Maurice Edu, got that? That's the answer to a trivia question you'll never, ever be asked.
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