By Evan Ream
And on the eighth day, God said, “Let there be red…”
I wasn’t planning to do a story for the Red Patch Boys due to the fact that I was sitting in the adjacent U-Sector for the only Toronto FC home game on the trip. But when I met the fans, I (prepare for the double negative) decided that I couldn’t not do a story on them.
We showed up at their pre-game bar, Shoeless Joes, and were immediately welcomed by RPB President Phil Tobin. Before I even got a chance to notice that the supposedly baseball-themed bar had been taken over with TFC and RPB gear, we were presented with scarves. After the game, we were presented with scarves again by a different member. Yep, I now own TWO Red Patch Boys scarves.
Phil and I talked about the usual TFC topics: how bad the team is, how bad the management is, etc… I noticed that there were Vancouver fans at the bar. Phil told me that he actually invited fans from the team’s second or third biggest rival (depending on how TFC fans feel about Columbus) out because the trip was so far and they didn’t have anywhere else to go. Not only were the Red Patch Boys welcoming to a neutral party like us, but they also welcomed their rivals!
Phil explained that for the 90 minutes the teams play each other, they’re his enemy and anything goes, but in the end, he just wants to see the sport grow and create a good vibe among visiting fans. I would assume this doesn’t include Montreal, but I could be wrong.
Despite their struggles as a team, according to Phil, the Red Patch Boys wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything else. There is a bond that he describes amongst the Red Patch Boys that is present amongst the fans, a true connection that they carry with them wherever they go.
Like U-Sector, when the game was over, RPB were ecstatic. Before the game, one U-Sector member asked me if the RPB scarf that I was wearing burnt my skin. After the game, members from the two groups got together in a circle outside the stadium and sang for nearly 20 minutes before walking away to their different postgame bars.
Toronto FC fans get a bad rap among the league for being rowdy, violent and chaotic. But if I could use any word to describe the members of the Red Patch Boys, it would be: gentlemanly. Welcoming visiting fans to your place and treating everyone takes a lot of class, and the Red Patch Boys certainly don’t lack that.
For more information on the history of the Red Patch Boys, check out their website (http://www.redpatchboys.ca/index.html); it certainly describes them better than I can with the limited time I had.