VANCOUVER, B.C. – A group of about 75 fans wearing TFC red stood in a sea of white holding their scarves up proudly as the final seconds of Toronto’s 4-2 loss to Vancouver ticked away at Empire Field on Saturday.
All around them, delirious Vancouver fans taunted them as they celebrated their team’s first-ever win in Major League Soccer. Despite the ribbing, the Reds’ fans continued to sing, "Forever we love you, we love you TO....”
The dedication of the fans wasn’t lost on head coach Aron Winter, who made sure that he walked over to acknowledge their effort despite the frustration of having lost badly to the Whitecaps. They had, after all, traveled more than 2,700 miles to show their support.
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Amongst the Toronto fans was Toronto’s Ken Lickers. He said that although it was frustrating to see the club struggle, he will continue to go on away trips whenever possible. Lickers was actually part of a group of around 40 that traveled to TFC’s first-ever game at Chivas USA in 2007. Starting with that game, Toronto have developed a reputation for bringing big groups long distances.
Lickers said it’s easy to understand why so many TFC fans make the effort to travel despite the club’s struggles.
“When [TFC] walked out of the tunnel [at the Home Depot Center in 2007], it was surprising how emotional it was,” he said. “It was like shaking a pop bottle – all those years of wanting a team to support just exploded.”
Former Toronto Mayor David Miller was also at the game on Saturday against the Whitecaps. A TFC season-ticket holder, Miller said Toronto should be proud of the loyalty of TFC fans.
“They’ve brought a passion and vibrancy to the city,” he said. “They’re great.”
There is little doubt that Toronto fans are getting increasingly frustrated by the club’s performance, but many also realize that there is a bigger picture.
“There has developed a community of people that you watch with – you grow to care about them,” said Lickers. “That’s what it’s all about.”
And, he says, that’s why the next trip is already being planned – win, lose or draw.