Fans in the stands: Supporter groups at BMO Field
By Jack Kazmierski, Toronto Sun
Like many soccer clubs around the world, Toronto FC have some incredibly passionate fans.
Perhaps coach John Carver put it best when he said, "The fans are passionate and right behind the team even when things aren't going well."
And while some fans prefer to express their support of the team in a more individual manner, others have joined one of Toronto FC'S supporter groups.
Here's a quick look at the four fervent fanbases you'll find at BMO Field:
NORTH END ELITE
Founded in 2007, North End Elite started off with only three members.
"We sat in the same row of seats and thought it would be a good idea to start a supporter group in the north end of the stadium, since all the supporters were congregated in the south end," says group co-founder, Pedro Almeida.
You'll find the North End Elite in section 127. Their numbers have grown to well over 100 and although they admire many TFC players, you'll likely find them cheering the hardest for Dwayne De Rosario and Danny Dichio.
North End Elite expect great things for TFC this year. "I expect a playoff birth," Almeida says. "The pre-season has been great and with the additions in the off-season, it looks like the team is ready to jump forward and take the next step. Playoffs are a must this year and winning the Canada Cup would also be a very important step to take. Both are possible, both won't be easy, but I believe this team has the talent to do it."
TRIBAL RHYTHM NATION
Two years ago, three friends named Duane, Sharief and Marcus banded together to start Tribal Rhythm Nation. The trio are passionate soccer players and fans, and possess a love of music -- specifically the drum, in its many forms. The rhythm of the drum is where the "Rhythm" in Tribal Rhythm Nation comes from.
"We contacted MLSE management," says Duane DaSilva, "told them our intentions, created the name, logo and website, spread the word for people to join us, and the rest is history."
The Nation currently boasts over 600 "citizens" and while most sit in section 118, others are spread throughout BMO Field. Favourite players include Dwayne De Rosario, Rohan Ricketts, Danny Dichio, and Marvell Wynne.
What sets this supporter group apart from all others is their chant -- TFC... we want a goal -- accompanied by their rhythmic steelpan and conga drums. "We are known more for our drum beats than our chants," says DaSilva.
RED PATCH BOYS
The seeds for the group known today as the Red Patch Boys were sown back in 2006 by a British gentleman who started an online discussion group about TFC. The name "Red Patch Boys" is a tribute to the veterans of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division of the Second World War, who were referred to as the "Red Patch Devils" by Axis troops in recognition of their bravery and perseverance in the face of heavy combat.
Today, this TFC supporter group has over 500 members scattered throughout BMO Field, "though we tend to claim sections 111 and 112 as our 'home' (nicknamed 'The Bunker')," says Jack DePoe, spokesman for the group.
As for favourite players, "Whoever scored the latest goal is certainly a hero," DePoe says, "but if I had to pick a couple of players, I'd say Jimmy Brennan, who is our captain and who was RPB 'Man of the Year' in year one. Carl Robinson, the unsung hero who does all the dirty work and is our midfield general. He was our 'Man of the Year' last year. Of course I would also have to put Danny Dichio up there. In our short history he's given us quite a few defining moments, he's always got time for the fans and generally he's a great guy."
The granddaddy of all the supporter groups would have to be U-Sector. According to spokesperson, Ryan Keay, the group was started in 2001.
"We were a small group of people at (former USL First Division) Toronto Lynx games who wanted to support the team and improve the atmosphere at games," he says. "We kept it up, and the Lynx turned to a developmental squad at the time that TFC was announced. We've grown significantly."
U-Sector's player of the year list includes Jim Brennan (2007) and Greg Sutton (2008).
"And of course, everyone loves Danny Dichio," says Keay.
The group's members sit mostly in section 113, but many are scattered throughout the stadium. A sure way to tell you're sitting beside a U-Sector member is to listen to the chant.
"We're the ones who started the 'Qu'est-ce que vous chantez?' French chant," Keay says.