Three cheers for Argentine fans

DON BRENNAN

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

Know what the "largest single-sport event ever hosted by Canada" really needs?

A Canadian victory, on Canada's birthday, tonight in Toronto.

That would get the nation's blood boiling.

That would get the red and white juices flowing.

That would get Canada really pumped about the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Maybe to even half the extent as Argentina supporters.

Yesterday's tournament opening doubleheader (not a reference to the ball bouncing off two noggins at once, but the back-to-back matches played on the finest piece of turf ever grown or placed on Bank St.) wouldn't have been the same without them.

Either Ottawa has a much larger Argentine population than anyone would have guessed, people have recently spent muchos pesos flying here from Buenos Aires or the awkward art of jumping on a bandwagon has reached new heights in Canada's capital.

The turnout was indeed impressive for the first universally viewed football games at Lansdowne Park since the Renegades would regularly lose on CBC and TSN. The stands were packed just like they were when Jim Durrell pleaded for Ottawans to show their support of the Rough Riders one memorable night in 1996.

But by no means was this a CFL crowd. For one thing, the Southsiders were much quieter than fans on the covered north side, where most of the Argentine supporters were located. About the only noise heard during a dreary nil-nil opening match between Panama and Korea DPR was from the Argentine fans as they entered the stadium.

And yes, it was a boring first game. I know this because even the TV commentator with the heavy English accent referred to play as "lethargic."

WHISTLING, CHANTING

Much the same way the Renegades offence was in months containing vowels.

There was a lot of dancing, singing, whistling and chanting during the second game. Couldn't make out the words or lyrics in a shrunken press box (where $10 gets you a lunch box containing a sandwich, bag of chips and cookies), but they sounded like the familiar FCS ditty "Could Somebody Please End The Monotony and Score To Give Us Something To Cheer About Today?"

There must have been a sniper in the crowd, which would have been the only plausible explanation as to why players were rolling around on the ground without any significant contact. He was likely sitting up high, angry that once again the beer girl could barely make it up any steps without having her tray emptied by thirsty patrons closer to the field.

Other observations from Day 1 of the "largest single-sport event ever hosted by Canada":

- At FIFA events (and yes, quite likely throughout Europe), organization is spelled organisation.

- The 'Say No To Racism' slogan has carried over from the World Cup to the U-20s.

- The Canada Day long weekend really was as lame an excuse for people not showing up at Frank Clair Stadium to watch CFL games as you thought it was.

- First-time visitors to the stadium were snickering at the puny video screen in the east-end scoreboard.

- The absence of the Beaver Lodge makes the west end zone looked naked.

- OC Transpo surely set a world record with the number of buses lined up over the Bank St. bridge waiting for fans to empty the stadium.

- Mardi Gras Madness was missed by reporters waiting for some bloody offence.

- The CFL would be alive and kicking in Ottawa if only the Argentine fans had fallen in love with the Renegades.


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