If you grew up as a soccer fan in Canada during the past 18 years you are probably like me in that you spent Saturday mornings falling in love with the game while watching whatever English Premiership game was being broadcast on Sportsnet. Over 18 years I have spent countless Saturdays in front of my TV watching those broadcasts and while players, teams, and broadcast partners came and went over the years there was one constant. That constant was Gerry Dobson on the broadcast.
Tonight, after 18 years leading the soccer coverage on Sportsnet and making a significant contribution to the game throughout the country of Canada, Gerry Dobson will grace our television screens for the final time as Toronto FC's match against the Chicago Fire is scheduled to be his final broadcast prior to retirement.
It is a retirement that is certainly well earned for one of the best ambassadors Canadian soccer has ever had. He has already taken part in his final Saturday morning broadcast and called his last game at BMO Field so Saturday night is just one more final game for Dobson. It will be a special one though as this time he will know that he is signing off for the final time.
Coverage on Sportsnet will be in good hands with the likes of Craig Forrest and James Sharman still around to fill the void left behind by Dobson but even if they continue to do a great job with coverage and introduce a new generation of fans to the game that we all love it just won't be quite the same for a generation of us fans who grew up associating a familiar voice with soccer.
Personally, Dobson was not only the person that I must closely associated with soccer growing up but he was also one of the people whom I looked up to as I aspired to get more involved in covering sports. I had the chance to meet him at events over the years and he always lived up to my expectations for the person behind the broadcaster. He was generous with his time and was kind to all he encountered. He always struck me as someone who had a genuine passion for the game of soccer and really wanted to see it succeed in this country in all its forms.
Dobson is also responsible for what I consider my greatness moment in my soccer journalism career that never quite turned out to be what I have envisioned. The fact that at half time of a Champions League broadcast (I forget the exact teams) he mentioned an article that I had written for Sportsnet and actually pronounced my last name correctly is a moment that I will always recall fondly.
I would guess that I am not the only one on this site who has fond memories of Dobson and will be getting a bit nostalgic tonight when we close in on 90 minutes. Hopefully, Toronto FC can send him off with a win to mark his final call which would be an impressive five wins in a row for the team in games that Dobson has called. It really would only be fitting to send him off on a high note.
I know I will be raising a glass around the 90th minute to say farewell to one of the voices that shaped my love of this game. I hope plenty of others join me.