Sam Cronin

Too Early For Enmity Toward Montreal?

The Montreal Impact, the Major League Soccer version, officially exists today.

Never forget this: for a Torontonian it’s never too early to hate anything from Montreal.

Toronto FC has a new rival and this will be a little bit better than booing members of the Columbus Crew.

We know the name Impact has been around in North American soccer circles for quite a while and it would be small and petty to mention the team seems to be named after an excruciating dental condition. No, we will hold back on those spiteful rejoinders until…now.

Don’t misunderstand, we have enjoyed much of Montreal’s charm: homeless guys proffering baseball caps as they hold open church doors, more smokers per square foot than the most dense reaches of the Tobacco Belt, permafrost winter, seas of people wearing black, language police, it’s enough to set a body to want to move down there.

But we resist in Toronto, not so much out of satisfaction with our own circumstances but with absolute conviction that things get worse with every step East.

Have you ever, ever heard of someone moving from Toronto to Brockville, Kingston or Montreal? I mean one person? What city does every Newfoundlander pine for? I’ll give you a hint…Toronto.

Some Torontonians move to Ottawa. It’s Montreal lite, but an unerring instinct compels Canadians to head west until they hit water. Occasionally, mishaps strand people in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  These unfortunates must be left behind lest all of us suffer their fate.

Montrealers arrive in Toronto in vast numbers, but they leave with great regularity for the same reasons convicts re-offend with full knowledge of where they are going to end up. It’s called the Sherbrooke Street Syndrome.

Home is home and if you grow up in Montreal it is natural enough to assume your culturally diverse city…oh wait, that’s Toronto.

Much of the enmity generated toward Montreal comes from the fate of our much beloved Maple Leafs, a club founded with the sole purpose of making Montrealers feel smug. Never mind that the Canadiens, the vaunted Canadiens, haven’t been to the final for 17 years.

We would compare the Expos and the Jays but, oh, wait, the Expos are defunct.

And so it falls on me to welcome the Montreal Impact to Major League Soccer with a few remarks.

First, Stade Saputo is within falling distance of the Olympic Stadium. It’s like installing a swim-up bar where the Edmund Fitzgerald went down.

Second, you paid way, way more for your team than we did.

Call us when you get your first unsold seat for an MLS game. We’d like to know what that’s like.

Put 1,000 “Nah-Nah, Hey-Hey” singers against say, a dozen randomly selected Red Patch Boys. They will outshout the Montrealers while chewing their hot dogs.

And finally, you know, welcome.