That’s as in the Toronto FC soccer club, part of the best professional league in North America. Last night was the semifinal game in Toronto with 36,000 rabid fans expected. I just couldn’t stay away.
The bus dropped me off about a ten-minute walk from BMO Field. That was around 7:20, with the game having started at 7:00. Toronto gridlock strikes again. All around me were power walkers, apparently each faster than me. As we got closer to the bright lights of the stadium, quiet rhythms became medium chanting became a wall of sound from high above me. So cool.
Inside the building, nature called, and so did Chicken and Kimchi Fries, a whopping pile of the stuff. I maneuvered my way to Section 205, Row N, Seat 4, balancing my styrofoam container with immense aplomb. My seatmates made way and I sat down, surrounded by Toronto supporters. Often they would stand, spread their arms wide, yell “TFC” and clap three times. Whoa! More energy than my gourmet meal. A Montreal goal bowed the heads and terminated the applause, while above me a small section of Québecois picked up the pace. “Allez! Allez! Allez!” “Courage!” Oh, they gave ‘er.
Only the occasional local gave the opposition fans grief. Mostly the cheers got our juices flowing again. A few minutes of mourning gave way to “This is our house!” And then a corner kick zoomed towards the goal, ready for the foot of TFC’s Armando Cooper. The world lifted beside me in decibel squeals, while I lowered my nose towards the fries. I cheered in vertical seclusion.
Later, my appetite vanquished, I was up with the rest of them, moving and grooving. More Toronto goals, more bouncing on the spot, hugging my neighbours, high fives all around. If folks were talking to me, I couldn’t hear them.
The Montreal folks chanted right to the end, even with the game lost. I respected them for that. Once, though, there was a commotion two rows behind me. I turned to see a police officer holding a Montrealer in a headlock, while another was holding back the punch that a Torontonian was brandishing. Lower down, a third officer was restraining a male fan whose face brimmed with hate. I don’t believe I’d ever seen hate in real life. Scary.
After the offenders were whisked away, the first fellow in handcuffs, we were back to the run of play. Cheers and cries and moans flowed among the stands. I was being held in an ecstasy of energy. Almost all of us were standing. And this was completely new in my life. I was lifted up, time and again. Guess I’m a crowdaholic.
By the way, Toronto won, and that was sort of important to me. But the energy? Worlds beyond the score, rampant with bliss. I’ll have some more, please.