At the end of the game, the end of the night, there was joy and glory, shock and numbness and a feeling of all those games over all those years washing back over you. For a decade we have cheered for this team, felt the lows and dreamed of the highs. Year after year the blog name "Mistake by the Lake" fit both the team performance and the feeling that a fan had for this journey of deep support. So often I thought that I was mistaken to love this team, this sport, in this city, so much.
Last night, when victory had been reached and a place in the Cup final had been obtained I turned to my wonderful wife and said 'well, that was a decade well spent".
The next morning I still feel the joy of it all, but I am also trying to grasp the full journey. I do recall once telling the TFC president at the time (Tom Anselmi) at a TFC town hall that having a Toronto football club was a dream come true. I am trying to recall the details of a ten year dream this morning, from the heights.
But back to last night's game
Montreal was a team that I truly feared. This summer, during the CNE, the Montreal Impact came to town. TFC was riding high, the supporter groups had the entire south end clad with gigantic banners, Montreal had a player sent off late in the first half, so TFC had a player advantage for more than 45 minutes.
And Montreal beat Toronto that summer night.
I think that the memories of that game were seared into my TFC memory cells.
So I spent Wednesday November 30th, prior to attending the TFC home game hosting Montreal in the second leg of the Eastern Final, worried. Tense and nervous.
This state of fear, worry and nervous tension is a little difficult to explain to acquaintances. Folks who might know that I write this blog or have been told of my passion for soccer. The attention has been going to TFC in this playoff run and those with a general interest are happy to discuss or join in on the happiness. So why so tense?
The glory of love for your team is sometimes like the glory of love for your kids. You bask in the fleeting glory when you can, but you are more often tortured by the chances that things might go wrong.
Montreal twice gave the TFC team and crowd a startling glimpse into that "things might go wrong" territory. Scoring the first goal of the night (and giving themselves a two goal lead-aggregate) and then scoring the opening goal of the second half (equalling the TFC accomplishment of scoring two goals on the road) Montreal had us over a barrel and cornered at the same time. So the glory of the Nick Hagglund goal (his glorious header made it 3-2 on the night) was that it was required to take Toronto to extra time. A chance to save ourselves, but not the safety itself.
Guess what my mood was as the teams took the field for those double fifteen minutes of extra time? Yes, things might go wrong.
But it was not all gloom. When I heard voices from friends around me, positive observations and a few folks picked Osorio as most likely to score for TFC, I had to voice my hunch. Not Osorio I said, it will be Cheyrou.
Benoit Cheyrou, a late game substitute with only his second touch of the ball, scored the winning goal. He headed the ball crossed into him by Steven Beitashour. The place went wild. The place was wild most of the night. The fans took their support to a new level, not just the south end supporters, but the whole stadium.
This blog post has taken me hours, so I am going to wrap it up. I just took a break to watch the highlights and my tears seem to be in both overflow and standby mode today. My favourite Nick Hornby quote is "The natural state of the football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score."
Maybe I am struggling today with my thoughts and words because bitter disappointment beenbanished for the time being and I am out of my natural state!
|Half time selfie from Section 220|