Gazing into the future, perhaps? (Okay, more of a gaze back...) - John William Waterhouse (1849-1917), now in public domain
To conclude our Year in Review series, WTR's resident westerner pens a letter to a future Team WTR, as we look forward to a brand new year of Canadian soccer, and to remind the future of the dark days that were. (Just in case they were getting inflated head...)
We've come to the end of our Year in Review series, and let's just say 2012 was a year to forget. So I've decided to write an open letter to our future, inspired by the website FutureMe.org -- let's hope when it finally reaches that date, we will have seen some better days.
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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
January 2, 2013
Team Waking the Red (WTR)
Somewhere that's not Calgary
January 2, 2023
Dear Team WTR 2023,
Well, you've made it. It's now 2023, and I'm sure life is sunny and fun for you now. I don't know how many of you are still around, or if SBNation is still around. Or heck, if even WTR itself is still around. Maybe our humble little online home grown and transcended into new fields like Test Match Sofa, or crumbled to the dust like Yahoo! as a search engine. But I'm sure for you, life as a TFC and Canadian soccer supporter must be a lot better. I'm sure many more trophies have been added to those teams' cabinets by the time you read this.
Or at the very least, things are better than what it was like in the year that we, Team WTR 2012 (that'd be Duncan, Dave, James, Kristin, Armen, Michael and myself, along with all of our many readers and followers that constitute SBNation's fourth-ranked MLS blog) had just gone through, and well...let's just say it's one year we hope you will never, ever come close to experiencing. Maybe you do remember this year, but you can't deny that this was an annus (mostly) horribilis in Canadian soccer. Oh sure, there were some really great moments that I'm sure the kids in your day are looking up to -- but man, this was a bad year.
Chances are by the time you read this letter, Canadian soccer and (I pray to [insert deity of choice here]) TFC have probably seen some better times, if you haven't, then by all means take this as a milepost of a year that could have been. But if you have seen those better days, and you're feeling a wee tinge of hubris surging through you -- this should provide a stark reminder that the bad times weren't so long ago, and could easily happen again if the powers that be aren't more than careful.
An 0-and-9 start and a 14-game winless streak to end TFC's 2012 season (and another first-overall pick at the 2013 SuperDraft), a controversial loss to the Americans for the Canadian women's team at this year 's Olympics, and a somewhat promising World Cup qualification (where we were invited to "taste the soup") was ended by a very untimely 8-1 shellacking to Honduras, which was preceded by an embarrassing loss in Panama -- both times in front of prime-time national TV audiences. These events, and many more, created a myriad of events that you are probably Googling up as you are looking at this letter, and either smiling or cringing.
There were some pretty goals, ones that led to a first Olympic medal in soccer for Canada in over a century, courtesy of Diana Matheson, and then there were the ones that would hide the truth, and even goals that were the world's best. There were quotes like Danny Koevermans' "worst team in the world" quip that rubbed salt in the wounds, games against Honduras (like the aforementioned 8-1 loss in Tegucigalpa) that made us grab for the Pepto Bismol (and the continued need for us to take said bismuth product, over some players' unwillingness to take responsibility), bad referees (a.k.a. Christina Pederson) and management (a.k.a. Teflon Tom) that we wanted to throw metaphorical rotten produce at, and there were just moments where we simply had to scratch our heads and say, "huh?"
Yes, there were some real bad moments. But there were moments that we could celebrate, too. That Olympic medal in soccer, while not gold, was pretty laudable (given the fact that most of the team were up watching it on TV, despite the time difference), and despite the bad ending to the TFC season, it actually started out not too badly. And in those moments, new heroes are born. From the ever amazing Christine Sinclair becoming Canada's new Tide laundry detergent peddling sweetheart (sorry Barbara Ann Scott, Lord rest ye soul...), to the bravery and courage of Megan Rapinoe (and not to mention TFC taking a lead for once on the equality front, a rare thing indeed.) -- let me tell you, some of those positive moments, you have to really go through the year with a fine tooth comb to find.
It's led to massive waves of disappointment, and it's been hard on the team. I've never seen Duncan so depressed before, and many members of our team have become quite pessimistic. We've (or was it just me?) all had bouts where we've tried to stay positive -- and still believe that the better days are still ahead -- only to have it come back and burn us like sulfuric acid on our backsides. All in all, this year took quite the toll on our faith and hope, but when I feel a bit more hopeless, I recall a song that I once heard in our childhood... (I've roughly translated the Mandarin, for those of you who don't know the language...)
Our spirit awakens, and as we open our eyes.
We wonder how the world can keep as-is.
But the sun arises and the world starts anew.
The wind stirs up a melody of a new day,
唱出你的熱情, 伸出你雙手, 讓我擁抱著你的夢
Let's sing aloud, and embrace a new dream.
Let me see the face of a new tomorrow,
Let the smile of that day refill our youthful hope,
As we await the arrival of a better day.
As the song says, the days will get better. We know that...but when the harshness is so evident, forgive us when we can't tell the forest from the trees. Sure, maybe the likes of Hutchinson, Rapinoe and Sinclair are names that are for you the echelons of glory, maybe Luis Silva, or Doneil Henry have joined them ,remember that they started this year, in a year that was rather gloomy.
So as you enjoy that better day, remember...there were days that you had lived, where things weren't so easy. And if you aren't having the better season that I think you're just seeing, well then...there have been worse times, let's just say that. So cherish the better days you are witnessing. They ARE better days, right...?
Either way, keep up the good work. You've got some big shoes to fill here with Team WTR (we were pretty awesome, I have to say) -- so no matter what happens do your best to keep Waking the Red as one of the top Canadian soccer/TFC blogs on the internets, by keeping the top-quality news and views coming, as we have been.
With love, luck and hope,
John in 2013.
P. S. - I know this has been something of a meme lately, but did they ever get around the inventing zip boards like from Back to the Future in 2015? If so, did any of us get injured trying one out?