State Saputo. A fortress tucked into the eastern parts of the Island of Montreal, and the home of the Montreal Impact.
My story begins almost three years ago with thrilling 2-1 victory over Orlando City SC, a match in which Piatti’s skills were on full display. At that time I had little interest in soccer or the Impact. I was there to watch Orlando City SC star Kaka of whom I knew of. Until then, I had heard little about the Impact, or soccer in Montreal, being domiciled minutes from the border on the American side.
This fact shows how poor the Impact’s marketing model was at the time when people living on the border had barely any notion of the Impact. After witnessing Piatti and the amazing Stade Saputo atmosphere I was instantly sold. The only thing on my mind was another match.
I eventually attended many more that season and the one after. I had become a true fan and the only thing that occurred to me after last season’s win against TFC, was to secure a season-ticket.
Eventually I received my tickets for 2019 sitting in section 113 row CC seat 19. Now that you the reader knows something of my background, let me paint a brief picture detailing my gamely routines and experience.
Getting to the Match:
On game days I get ready like any person; shower, cologne, etc then the decision comes what to wear. Generally at the moment my Saphir Taider jersey, purchased this season, gets the vote. I have a trio of Piatti jerseys all autographed by the man himself.
Attire sorted, I grab my season ticket, 1642 MTL scarf and head out the door. It’s usually alone, sometimes with a friend or two, but it matters not. Solo or accompanied, I’m off up the road to Montreal.
Usually I leave three to four hours before kick off to assure that I do not get stuck in the Montreal traffic. I cross the border in Champlain (usually the route 221/276 border). It’s never busy. At this point most of the border guards know me and have finally asked if I am a season ticket holder.
On my most recent encounter I was greeted by laughter, as I had blue and black face-paint on for the Toronto FC match. On average about an hour to an hour and a half later I arrive near the stadium via the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel under the mighty St Lawrence river.
Pre Match At the Stadium:
I generally enter at the east/est entrance of the stadium usually heading towards the North stands for the pre game player ceremony. For an evening match, the ceremony begins at around 6pm, and I participate in that event high-fiving the players and offering words of encouragement as they proceed to the locker room.
Hungry work transferring all that positivity so afterwards, it’s a bite to eat.... usually a burger, fries and a vodka & orange to wash it down (yum).
Pre match you can usually find me at the 1642 table in the concourse chatting to my fellow members particularly Max Nepveu, Ed Hudson, and Andre Opzoomer, who run the sales portion of the group.
As other 1642 members turn up, I go above to discuss the up-coming match, life, and the starting eleven typically with members; Simon Carignan, Ali Shay, Sebastian Ouellet, Capo Anthony Lizzi to name just a few.
It’s a great group of welcoming and passionate fans. A second family creating a home away from home. I find it a privilege and honour to be associated with these wonderful people and to belong to the group that started the tradition of ringing the famous North Star bell.
If you’ve not done so already, it’s a good place for a chat about the Impact, or to stop-by and support the group whether it be taking membership, or buying an item of merchandise. Of course, time flies chatting with friends and kick off approaches quickly, the cue for me to either stay with the group or return to my seat.
At this point my adrenaline is always pumping and no matter which option I choose it is always important for us fans to create an atmosphere and support the announcement of the starting eleven.
During the Match:
Once the referee blows his whistle I’m watching hawk-like, absorbing every aspect and thinking like the manager. Often however, I am left frustrated, but I love the game, the stadium and this team.
My favorite aspect of Stade Saputo has to be the noise level and especially hearing the ring of the North Star bell during a goal or a victory.
Other than watching the match I chant and try and get others around me fired up. If you watch me during a game, I usually never stop especially if I stand with the 1642s, an experience like no other.
Contributing to the atmosphere in a fan group is a truly unique experience, where you can have an “Impact” on events by getting right behind the players. Apart from the chanting and singing sometimes I’ll offer a few criticisms of the referee as well. I can provide one insider tip - never leave the action or depart before the half ends. I have missed some good goals by doing this. I’ve learned the hard way.
Following the match, win or lose, I lag behind in the stadium to avoid sitting in post-match traffic on rue Sherbrooke. Generally, I’ll clap and raise my scarves as the players salute the fans, win or lose or draw. I appreciate the efforts of our players.
After the crowd clears, I assist the 1642s in the clean-up of equipment; tifos, speakers or anything that needs to be put away.
I’ll also chat about college with friends below the stand. Of course we chat about the game too, the day’s sales, and normal things 18 year-olds discuss (lol). Usually we’ll buy each other a drink, to celebrate or console, dependent upon the result.
As we leave the stadium, I generally meet with a good friend of mine, Eric Desjardins a devoted Impact fan that holds the team close to his heart.
Eric consistently appreciates me traveling to see the team we both love. After we wrap-up I walk about a mile to my car and begin the long journey home. The drive is not so bad, although sometimes alone at night can be tough, especially on the winding roads of QC-15.
Once at the border an hour or so later I get through quickly, continue home, and scroll through twitter or Facebook. This is to reflect on the match I’ve just watched and formulate opinion on what transpired.
Generally by the time I get home, I’ve formed my opinion, generally well thought out, sometimes not, I suppose.
I would not change these experiences for the world. I love travelling up to Montreal, the Impact, and the friends I regularly meet at the stadium. It’s become my spiritual home, an oasis, a break from the weekly grind. A getaway to enjoy.
I encourage all to support the team, come around to the 1642 table and say ‘Hi’. Don't be shy, come say Bonjour or Hello.
Hope to see you all Wednesday night.
P.S. the team’s overall record with me attending is W19 L8 D2.
Allez Montreal !!!!
Will you attend a Montreal Impact match again this season?
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