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Thursday, March 15, 2012

"No one likes us, we shouldn't care"

Definitely not the Home Depot Center

While The Reds are a far cry from the South London ruckus that is Millwall FC, you could forgive TFC supporters from mistaking BMO Field for The New Den today. Amidst the euphoric din from the triumphant but still bewildered Toronto fans, emerged a narrative from the rest of North America that was somewhat sobering - no one really cares about Toronto FC all that much.
Leading up to the match, and most likely until the final whistle, the majority of this continent's media and fans (outside of Toronto) had already written off TFC's chances. Most barely gave The Reds the credit to even provide Davy Knickers & The Boyz a real challenge. When the match ended and turned predictions on their heads, some naysayers were willing to eat crow but mostly with the caveat that poor Galaxy were "so fatigued". Those insights were oft followed with polite pats on the head for the plucky Canucks with platitudes laced with adjectives like "unfashionable", "perennial underdogs" and "underachievers". Back-handed at best.
While there will always be a certain sect of the American football fan who will never be comfortable with Canadian clubs in MLS, was it naive to think that last night's famous win could afford the Torontos some cross-border affection? When Real Salt Lake made its run to the CONCACAF Champions League final there was a league-wide love-in that put rivalries to one side and pushed a #MLS4RSL online campaign. However, if early public reaction is anything to go by, a similar #MLS4TFC campaign doesn't look like it would get much traction past the 905 area code, let alone south of the border.
For Toronto sports fans, not getting the love from "Canada's shirt" is nothing new - just ask the Blue Jays and Raptors (not that they deserve love). However, TFC probably won't generate much hate from the USA - more likely just apathy. Instead, most of the vitriol and bad tidings in our quest for CCL success will emanate from within our nation. A #CSA4TFC campaign is maybe less likely than the MLS variety. Our dirty hippie cousins at BC Place are still smarting (and telling anyone who will listen) how they should have won the Voyageur's Cup in 2011 and that TFC's run is a sham. Do not expect much in the way of solidarity from the Rockies. Meanwhile our age-old rivals down the 401 would probably rather give up their strip-club memberships than see TFC beat the same Mexican club that gave them one of their all-time worst humiliations. Add the usual Toronto-hate from the rest of the country and The Reds are truly an island.
Basically, Toronto FC aren't the high-flying fashionable club that neutrals want to bandwagon on. In English football parlance, we aren't Chelsea or Arsenal - neither nouveau riche nor aristocratic. Instead, we are more in tune with a Newcastle (in Toon?) or Leeds. Big clubs that have made stupid mistakes but have rabid, die-hard supporters who stick by them even if everyone else thinks they are a bit delusional. When success does come for those types of fans, it's always that bit sweeter than at the clubs where it comes easily.
The bunker mentality can be a good thing - even the players can feed off the "us vs. them" emotion. So really, if you were miffed today that your beloved club wasn't getting the love you feel it deserves... is that so bad? It's always more fun to swim against the stream and wouldn't you rather be "disliked" alongside 47,000 of your closest friends at SkyDome rather than being "fashionable" at the Home Depot Center?


  1. As a Leeds fan I can empathise, sod everyone else you don't need them!

  2. Interesting point of view. Could be worse though - as a Revs fan it's more like "no one knows we're here, and no one cares". That includes our ownership.