FAN-TASTIC: Cheers for Toronto FC reach fever pitch at BMO Field

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An enthusiastic crowd of 7,000 watch the Reds take on Orlando City — the first game fans have been allowed to attend since March 2020

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It’s the group therapy Toronto FC fans needed after a torturous 497 days.

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Sitting together in a stadium, cheering once again with the first 7,000 fans to see the Reds play at BMO Field for the first time since March 2020.

“This is now the light at the end of the tunnel and things are getting back to as normal as you could get,” said Brad Humber, president of Red Patch Boys – a grassroots soccer fan support group.

The light was made even brighter when Toronto FC approached Humber’s group with 200 tickets.

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The 15-year-old Red Patch Boys are recognized for playing a crucial role in creating a raucous stadium atmosphere.

“We were extremely gracious and then we were like how are we going to pull this off in 48 hours?”  Humber said.

But he had no trouble finding takers among members.

Martin Omes, well-known as the “Capo” of the Red Patch Boys for his conductor-like role coordinating bull-horn chants, was thrilled to attend.

“I was holding out hope. I was expecting it to be a little bit later. So I was thinking maybe August, September,” Omes said. “I had fingers crossed that we would get some kind of games.”

Omes, who attended with his mother Eva, was also grateful.

Martin Omes, the “Capo” of the fan support group Red Patch Boys, and his mom Eva Omes were among the 7,000 who enjoyed the Toronto FC home game at BMO Field on Saturday, July 17, 2021.
Martin Omes, the “Capo” of the fan support group Red Patch Boys, and his mom Eva Omes were among the 7,000 who enjoyed the Toronto FC home game at BMO Field on Saturday, July 17, 2021. Photo by Supplied photo /Martin Omes

“They (TFC) understand the impact that supporters have on – not only just the team – but the game itself,” Omes said. “We are able to bring the noise — we are able to help bring the rest of the stadium on its feet.”

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There will be many more feet in those stands Wednesday when capacity increases from 7,000 to 15,000 — half the stadium’s capacity.

Three hundred Red Patch members will attend that game.

“For us it’s going to be electric and we hope to be able to show the players as well as anyone watching on TV that sports atmosphere is coming back here in Toronto,” Humber said.

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The return of attendance at home games includes the Blue Jays July 30 after receiving a federal exemption to finally play at Rogers Centre.

TFC has reminded fans about rules for attending, which include a self-assessment, dedicated entrance gates, mandatory face coverings unless eating or drinking, and social distancing.

“It means — for the most part — we are getting the family back together again,” Humber said of the grand gathering. “I know that for the last 16 months it’s been a trying time not only for sports fans but generally for people in their own lives.”

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