As we await the first home game at BMO Field, Waking the Red is featuring the various Toronto FC supporters groups to gain more perspective on what they bring to the stadium.
This week we have Phil, the President of the Red Patch Boys.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and the group?
Well, I signed up to be a TFC season ticket holder very early and knew I wanted to be involved in the supporters sections. I found my way into RPB in year 1 and have been serving in some role since - Membership, Vice President and now President.
As for the group, it formed at the announcement of the team on the internet as a group of people who all supported football in some capacity over the years. Meetings were had with the club and a section was chosen - 112 as it was very close to the pitch and given we were only small the section offered a lot of growth. Now we have it filled to capacity and are expanding the group into other south end seats.
2. What brought you onto Toronto FC and soccer, in general?
I was watching football one Saturday morning and Gerry Dobson has made the announcement to call a number if you wanted to reserve a seat for the upcoming Toronto FC team. That Monday I called in and got a reservation. I know that I was looking for a live football experience after watching it on TV for years, I also wanted to be able to support the team both vocally and visually.
3. Are there any values and supporter vision attached to the group?
We have a mission statement that defines the group pretty well:
We are the voice in the stands
filled with passion, pride, and purpose
for every minute of every game.
We have also incorporated the group as a not for profit and have published by-laws that guide our process to all members. It gives us a level of transparency that differentiates us from many others. The goal is to create a supporters club that we can pass onto our children with pride.
4. Tell us about some initiatives the group is involved in?
Obviously supporting the team with our voices and passion is the number one focus - that can be through displays, flags, songs, chants and community involvement. We support and sponsor 2 kids' teams each year as well as numerous involvements in charities over the years - Terry Fox foundation and the Canadian Institute for the blind are some. We also encourage coaching development for youth as it's so important for the sports grass roots growth of the game.
5. Turning to the match-day experience, tell us some things that your group does to make game day a livelier affair?
A typical match day is gathering at our nearby Shoeless Joes for prematch banter. We occasionally have tailgate get-togethers in the east lot outside BMO field. Chants are regularly done, new and old in order to liven up the crowd, then it's onto the match. We like to get in early to see warm ups and prep for any displays going up. We have some pretty large drums to spread the chants. Special games usually involve a march to the pitch. -
6. How do you explain your passion to people who don't understand the amount of time and resources you dedicate to following Toronto FC?
It's about pride for your city. It's also about the love of the game, the team and your fellow supporters. It's like a family come game day, not only in your section but as a collective. The energy and Passion are things that are easily relatable for anyone, and if they haven't experienced it then it's time to get them out to a game so they can then understand.
7. Over the last decade of Toronto FC, what is the one key thing you have learned when it comes to support and atmosphere in general?
Be simple, consistent and patient. The goal is to have 20,000 plus creating the most supportive atmosphere for our team. We want home games to be a real advantage so getting the chants out there and making them as accessible as possible is key.
8. What do you think about the current state of the atmosphere at BMO Field? Do you think it can be better?
There is always room for improvement when it comes to atmosphere. I think having more people in the stadium early is one area that needs major improvement. It will be interesting to see how the roof may affect the spread of chants and overall noise from the crowd.
9. How do you differentiate which supporters group a person should join? Are they all similar or do they hold different beliefs for different people?
I think every group offers something unique but we are all there for the same reason - to support Toronto FC. Of course that varies from group to group, it's easy to see the different philosophies when it comes to that first whistle.
10. Lastly, how can people join your group?
We almost always have membership representatives at Shoeless Joes pre-game (1189 King St. West at Dufferin) and we also have a website -www.redpatchboys.ca You can sign up with a free account on the forum, engage with other supporters about the team and become a member online.
A very special thank you to Phil, the President of the Red Patch Boys for some very informative and interesting answers.
If you would like more information about the Red Patch Boys, click on the links below: