Saturday, June 02, 2007

Ottawa Senators vs. Toronto FC

It occurs to me, as I’m sitting and watching game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, how lame hockey fans are.


Take vocal encouragement, for example. Typical hockey chants include:

* WHOOOOOOOO!

* Let’s go (team name), Let’s go (clap, clap)

* De-Fense….De-Fense

* Er…

* That’s it.


And that’s hockey fans in general – I'm not even talking about team-specific hockey fan lameness, such as the fact that Senators fans for some inexplicable reason think that dressing up in cheesy centurion gear is actually a homage to some quasi-Roman “Senator” (something HBO/Everton Manager Lucius Vorenus could set them straight on).

Football fans, on the other hand, have a constantly evolving range of songs and a developed tifosi banner culture. Seriously, why is North American fan culture so boring?

(As I write this, Senators fans are passing an 80-foot Canadian flag around the Corel Centre – or whatever the hell its called these days - and the guy singing the national anthem actually skipped three lines to let the fans sing it themselves…it’s still closer to lame than ambulatory but perhaps they are learning)

Anyways, I’d like to be proud about how freakin’ brilliant Toronto FC are and what a great fan culture they have. We're loud, boisterous and our singing is loud if not particularly inventive. Massive credit to U-Section and the Red Patch Boys for making the south stands at BMO Field the brilliant place they are.

But before Canadians get carried away with self-congratulation on how much better we celebrate the Beautiful game than all those American MLS fans, let’s face some facts.

One: Outside the south stands, we’ve got a lot of seriously unimaginative chanting going on. The De-Fense chant hasn’t made an appearance, but the “Let’s Go” one has. You can take the hockey fan out of the arena, but…

Two: To the everlasting shame of all FC members, idiots from the northeast corner continue to try to get the stadium to do the Mexican Wave. Again, kudos due to the Red Patch boys for protecting us west-side folks from this indignity.

Three: Yes, Canadians are picking up the soccer bug from FC’s recent triumphs, and yes, live national coverage of FC’s games is a brilliant thing (especially on days like to day when I’m stuck 700 miles from my seats): but CBC’s football coverage still stinks. That the People’s Network thinks it appropriate to promote the Under-20 world cup through a series of low-production value commercials featuring a mutli-ethic group of 10 year-olds doing ball tricks on what appears to be the Sesame Street backlot speaks volumes – libraries, even - about its lack of feel for the game.

Don’t get me wrong – BMO field *is* the most exciting sports venue anywhere in Canada. And yes, the Canadian media has come a long way in a mercifully short time since the days a year ago when Mo Johnston was referred to a “Scotland’s Wayne Gretzky”. But the South stands aren’t the Kop and it will be a few years at least before the culture of the arena is banished from the stands.

3 Comments:

Blogger Mark Dowling said...

Can't speak to Sens games but having been to Leaf games - why would you bother thinking up a chant?

1. the PA will drown you out with a burst of inane music
2. The prawn sandwich eaters around you will tell you to be quiet.
3. If there isn't a prawn sandwich eater beside you, it's another corporate whose firm paid the freight and whose seat is empty because he's getting more booze or yakking on his cellphone.

Even the Raptors seem to manage to motivate their crowd better - it's an NHL thing.

As for the TFC ultras being confined to certain sections - don't worry too much about that. At Manchester United the hardcore were dispersed among all the Japanese daytrippers etc. but eventually the club agreed to allocate them a section at the Stretford End which has done wonders. The more you concentrate singing fans, the better it gets.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Mark Dowling said...

oh and one more thing - I'm not buying a replica shirt until it has BMO on the front. Yes it's a montreal bank but dammit a replica is a replica. Having Toronto on the front in a football shirt context makes it look like a dollar store knockoff.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Miles said...

The Toronto FC are horrible....

1:47 PM  

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