May 16, 2007

Mother's Day Weekend Shenanigans At BMO Field

Hope you all had a good Mother's Day weekend and treated or remembered your mothers with kindness. I had an awesome weekend myself (been too busy working on a big update for the Sesame Street site to blog about it, sorry!), thanks for asking. It started off with a bang on Saturday as we experienced something you don't get to do too often; we were a part of history, baby.

A while back, word started to spread around George's local, Gabby's (980 Kingston Road); Toronto had a
brand spanking new football club (aka soccer on this side of the Pond), Toronto FC, and they were looking pretty darn good. BMO Field, their new stadium on the old Exhibition Stadium grounds (where I saw Leif Garrett in the '70s, unwillingly might I add), sounded pretty tasty, too, what with their international food and their Carlsberg Pavilion. Hey, I know, let's all go see a game! Well, not all, but 48 of us ended up going, thanks to George, your go-to footy guy, and Gabby's cool managers, Larry, Danny, and Gus.

And what a game we saw!
My first football game turned into a whole afternoon of firsts. Most importantly, not only did we get to see the team's first goal (hey, we're young, we're still getting on our feet, so to speak), but two more to boot for our first win, woohoo! We also scored our first red card (Danny Dichio), our first streaker (he didn't make the field, alas), and our first fan ejection. I didn't capture them all on film, but let's get to the pics of this great day out.

Never did get a good group shot of the day, I concentrated on the game a bit much, but here's Dougie and Gavin, in his full TFC gear, before the game, outside Gabby's.

And here's Gavin waving his TFC scarf out the bus window like a lunatic .. I mean, like the level-headed super fan he is.

The hallowed ground, BMO Field.

For the first couple of hours before every home game, the parking lot's a sports playground for kids and adults. Looks like fun, but we didn't have time to investigate this time.

Our first look at the field and scoreboard/video screen as we headed for our seats in Section 110, lined up with one of the goals (which turned out to be the right place to be for the first goal) and right next to the infamous fan section, 113. You'll meet these guys shortly. They certainly did add to the atmosphere!

Some of the boys warming up. Don't ask me for names, the pics aren't close enough. I took most of the action shots with extreme close-up and just hoped someone would be in the shot. Hard to take outdoor pics with my camera as it has no viewfinder, I can only go by the screen where the image tends to fade in the sunlight.

Section 113 is starting to warm up and fill up.

The first of many flags takes flight.

My boys warming up for the game; Riel digging his Game Boy (he did put it away once the real game started), while George and his friend, Stewart, admire the facilities.

And Stewart enjoys the scenery (Charmaine and Wayne coming back with beverages, she's the blonde, he's wearing the blue jacket)

At this point, we hadn't managed to score a goal in our first four games, so this great flag of a John Lennon drawing with the words, "All We Are Saying Is Give Us A Goal", went down well with the crowd. We were all soon chanting along at the top of our lungs. Lots of fun.

The teams line up and the US and Canadian flags are held aloft as the anthems are sung.

Section 113 did us all proud by holding their TFC scarves aloft during "Oh, Canada." Gets ya right there *sniff*

A shot of the scarves from further back.

To commemorate the Grand Opening of BMO Field, they gave away seat cushions. Brilliant move. Didn't take long to figure out these puppies could fly! The first rain of cushions began as the game started ...

... took 'em 10 minutes to pick 'em all up. Which, naturally, slowed down the start of the game. As did each subsequent shower during the game. Twits. I shouldn't talk, really. I only have one of our three cushions left. Riel tossed the other two with joyous abandon once he saw them all starting to fly.

As the large, glorious, TFC flag started to wave in Section 113 ...

... the confetti cannons went off, woohoo!

Dusted the pitch on our end with confetti for the rest of the game.

Bit messy, huh? Bet the goalkeepers were thrilled. Check list for next home game: lose the projectile giveaways and the slippery confetti on the pitch.

Find the ball. Bet he had trouble, too!

Another action shot of the pitch.

Random action shot of the game. Note the birthday hat in the right-hand corner. Taken right before I was handed the only beer I had for the whole game ($8.50 a pop, yeah, right!), which meant my hands were full for ...

Our first goal, scored by Danny Dichio, yeeha! Sorry I didn't get the goal itself, but this fella's reaction says it all :-) Taken moments after the goal was scored, note the litter of cushions already on the field.

Section 113 went nuts for the historic goal.

Streamers added to the celebratory mess.

Before we had time to bask in the afterglow, there's a fracas in the net ...

I zoomed in for a closer shot, right before the man of the hour, Danny Dichio, was handed a red card in an awful display of the most horrendous, "The ref is freakin' blind!", officiating I've ever seen. The keeper should have been tossed, but let's not dwell on bygones, shall we? Oh, look, a distraction.

The owner of the birthday hat from earlier (note its angle after a few beers), party on, dude! Ya just gotta have shirtless guys at a footy match. Him and four of his buddies obliged us for the second half of the game, bless 'em.

George wasn't pleased with my taking these pics, but not for the reason you'd guess. Seems the cad was wearing AC Milan undies. Who knew?! Anyway, w
e went on to win the game, 3-1 (my batteries ran low, we went for food, so there's not a lot of blog worthy game pics to show), and the crowd went wild.

The team applauded the fans ...

... and an overzealous fan was led off the field, the first official ejection, I believe. He was but one of many. Probably screwed themselves out of any more home games for at least this season, but I'll bet it was worth it!

We left behind some seat cushion frisbees and empty beer cups. But, we left with a dose of hometown pride in our hearts and a lump in our throats from a thrilling game and day out.

Way to go, George! And a huge thanks to the Gabby's boys for their help and support for the team. So, when's the next one?!

After the excitement of the game on Saturday, I had a lovely, quiet Mother's Day.

It was a glorious day, as you can see from this shot I took down Beech Ave., facing Lake Ontario. Some girlfriends invited me to enjoy High Tea at the La Tea Da Tea tea room on Queen Street, which was quite the treat, as you can see.

Little finger sandwiches and scones on the bottom tier, cakes, pastries, and fruit slices on the top, with your own pot of tea (the tea menu has about 30 exotic choices, I had the Lady Londonderry). All the little touches added up, too, like real Devonshire cream for the scones and such unique and delicate tea services for each customer (a lot of them are apparently donated by local residents). It felt like such a decadent outing!

Otherwise, George and Riel amused themselves at the park and let me enjoy my day with the girls, which I certainly did. Hope your weekend was half as much fun!

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