Editorial Note: Please welcome Lev Yashin to the Waking The Red team. As far as we know this isn't the same Lev Yashin that played for Dynamo Moscow and the Russian (Soviet) national team, but we aren't certain. He has experience as a professional player, referee and coach. He will be writing features on Toronto FC, refereeing and the league in general.
Many years ago - 1953 to be exact - I was taken to watch my first live soccer game. It was a reserve team game in Coventry, England. My brother and I were parked with my grandparents while Mum went off shopping with the ladies and Dad was off running five football teams.
My grandfather took it upon himself to walk us the one mile to the game with a stop at the corner store for two ounces of dolly mixture for one penny.
This became a weekly ritual for the next eight years - August to May - each and every year. I so looked forward to 'game day'.
In these early years we were out morning 'til night playing with all the kids in the street. The one kid with a soccer ball was king. He got to pick the teams and woe betide the rest of us if he was losing, because he took the ball home.
As the teenage years unfolded we would go farther afield to play, while also walking by ourselves to go and watch our local team.
Game day morning started with analyzing the team selection. Later the meet up with friends for the walk to the game. Arrive 2:30 for game time of 3:00 pm., rain or shine, week in and week out. Most years my team was mediocre. Never once would I miss a game. Then 30 years of Premier League followed. Eureka, what a life!
I am telling this story because it could be any one of 100,000 stories of immigrants to Canada, From Italy, Germany, France, Central Europe, British Isles or South America . . . people with this kind of soccer heritage, this immense love for the beautiful game, have arrived on these shores. They bring this passion with them and pass the stories on to their children and grandchildren. The sport of football is universal.
People from a football culture have been starved for a North American team to call their own. Only in the last five to ten years has the media realized just how hugely popular this sport is, and how strongly it has been desired here in North America. This includes MLSE, who needed a place to put $40 million and decided to invest it in TFC with no knowledge of how to run a football club. They have been stumbling along on a wing and a prayer for the last eight years.
A true football fan will watch any and all games and knows who the stars are, and can identify the "go-getters".
Unfortunately, TFC cannot be classed as a 'go-getter' operation. It is about time that the people running this club realize that 50 or 100 years of cultivated passion is looking for much more than that which is on offer.
From Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, people want a winning team, and will eventually gravitate towards one. Just look at the fans in Vancouver in the past couple of weeks. They were in the throws of ecstasy, and that was just from getting to the play-offs. What would happen if they won it all?
This is what the fans of TFC want...to go to a game and see desire, passion and a winning mentality. It is time to get this team to the next level, no more mediocrity. It is time to put a team together that wins most home games in entertaining fashion, not one that loses in the 89th minute or does not even properly show up in others.
It would be most welcome if TFC would be THE team in this league. We live in hope.