Thursday, November 29, 2012
(If I) cornered Payne at the party.....TFC 101
Perhaps it is for the best. The new club president and general manager, Kevin Payne, may have a clause in his contract that allows him to back out of the job if he is accosted by a crazy man at a party in his first week. Here is what I would tell Mr. K Payne if I were able to monopolize his ear for a minute or two.
1. The location of BMO field is not a location, it is the location in Toronto sports history. It is as close as we get to sacred ground. Argos and Blue Jays were once the big teams in the old Exhibition Stadium. Yes, the Jays and Argos have won championships since moving to their downtown location, but sorry corporate bosses, the Rogers Dome will never get close to sacred. Winning down by the lake in the open air on the CNE grounds may only be 10% of why a TFC fan wants to win, but I argue that it is a significant factor and no other sporting ground in the city (now that Maple Leaf Gardens is no more) has that pull. Of course, I am the man who named his TFC blog "Mistake by the Lake" in honour of the old Exhibition Stadium and the memories that float around in these parts. You might, Mr. Payne, want to spend some time at Downsview, but the story of getting to know this city and this team lies by the lake.
2. We are a sophisticated football crowd with split allegiances built into our growing up with this game. That is why the motto of the club is "All for One". It acknowledges that TFC is interested in bonding together those who are split apart come World Cup or Euro, Champions League and pretty well every weekend when we watch the game on tv. Oh and when we talk about watching the game on tv, we are talking EPL, La Liga, Serie A and the like. We are not watching MLS.
Therefore we are suspicious of the MLS parity concept. We understand that big clubs in the football club world beyond our shores stay big clubs by selling and buying talent. Sure, developing your own talent at the club would be nice, but we are in a country that qualified only for the 1986 World Cup. We have learned not to hold our breaths on the developing your own talent side of things. We want to be a dominant club and have a hard time believing that it can be reached with three DPs and a host of bargain basement players. The Galaxy have done it that way and we would not turn success away if that pattern was repeated in Toronto. We think that spending money and having an eye for talent is more likely to do the trick.
3. We Torontonians have a second tier complex, we want to be considered a big time city but fear we are second rate somehow. This fear has been part of the story behind the fickle Toronto fan. For every true fan who will stick through thick and thin, there are 10 (20?30?) fans who are fickle bandwagon jumpers. Toronto does a horrible job of supporting losing teams, teams that are perceived as being minor league and anything that isn't considered a hot property. If somebody tries to tell you that this is a hockey town, just smile and nod. Remember that for every ticket bought for a Maple Leaf game there is an empty seat for a Junior A hockey game or a university game in our part of the province. This is not a hockey town, it is a fickle town and the Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be the only exception to that rule when it comes to selling tickets and getting media attention.
I am not a believer in lumping all of the city's teams together as either a positive or negative indication. Too many fans, or at least those ranting on the TFC fan message boards, get themselves into knots when they lament the direction that TFC is taking. The next thing you know they are throwing out MLSE, Leafs and Raptors as if they are interchangeable items.
I am only interested in TFC. I am only interested in MLSE in terms of their operation of TFC. Mr. Payne if you can be wildly successful, you could own this town.
4. Have fun, learn and laugh, be the boss and aim for great heights. Oh, and invite that blogger Still Kicking (Mark Kennedy in section 220) to more parties.