A Beer, a Ball, The Hip, and a Dream

The story behind the creation of TSS Rovers FC

Why does one start a lower league professional soccer club in North America? How do you

properly get your head around that topic as an owner and a soccer coach?


Why on earth did we ever think to build TSS Rovers FC?


The short answer is normally somewhere between because it is so freaking childishly cool and

because people said you shouldn’t be so stupid. Somewhere in there is the truth and ultimately

both of those answers can be true. It isn’t incredibly fiscally responsible yet there is just

something so special about the expression a community can make around a football club they

begin to love. Starting from that romantic thought is what drives the little boys in us to think it’s

possible. Watching small clubs all over the world succeed against all odds, past players buy

their childhood club, and old managers invest in grassroots football themselves only serves to

drive the dream further into our psyche. Roy of the Rovers stuff. If you’ve been in football for

long enough, read a Shoot or a Kick Magazine cover to cover, watched Soccer Saturday when it

was the only program available, the dream of owning a club or managing a professional

environment is deep. And at a certain level, it’s silly. But so cool. Soccer is so addictive that like

any drug it makes you do silly and amazing things…


So The Rovers is, on a really basic level, the fulfillment of our dreams. We are building a place to play, a place to go watch and we are delivering our version of Roy of the Rovers.

And my word, that is so much fun it is ridiculous.


The reason from building TSS Rovers FC goes deeper


At TSS FC, like many a North American club, the conversation is often about what to do to

develop better players, advance the sport, what our National team should do or not do, and where the hell Canada is going to find the next crop of players. As we train our teams and move

through our academy curriculum we argue the merits of new ideas, coaching points and we

generally revel in the idea of trying to help players work to improve their game and chase their

dreams in the sport. After the soccer balls are away we sit in the office or near the pitch and

over a beverage of our choice we break down the soccer world. No different than you. When we

trudge home to put the kids to bed and slide into another end of day drink our email, bulletin board

and texts continue the conversation. There are no outcomes that need to be accomplished just endless

debates on the best teams, best techniques, world’s greatest players, what if we did this type stuff to create

player development...and it is all awesome.


It is what makes coaching in this country fun. Being with like minded people that care and are truly in the game as a labour of love. Those people are all over our country supporting their kids and their clubs and we are no different.

Enter the Tragically Hip


Picture that very scene. A few of us completing a day of coaching when the topic of favourite

rock bands ends up being the discussion of the evening. Songs are being played, conversation

is flowing and a gorgeous spring training day is turning into a wonderful evening. It is only days

after a generation of Canadians has heard the country’s adopted sons and a band held in the

highest regard has declared its final tour. The Tragically Hip are bidding farewell under very

emotional circumstances. Lead singer, Gord Downie, a person who would win the Prime

Minister's chair in a cake walk should he have ever decided to stand, has been diagnosed with

terminal brain cancer. His response is to grace us all with one last dance, one last wail, one last

energetic connection of a national tour. To be with us.


Our late night songs turn to our youth and the days of yore as we enthusiastically discuss tour

dates we had been blessed to be a part of and attend. Our minds are both excited and sad all at

once. The tickets to this once in a lifetime event will be next to impossible to attain but barely a

person we know doesn’t desire to attend.


The country begins to celebrate. Quietly but it is gathering steam. Celebrating a band. A man of the ages and someone who uniquely represents our country. We talk endlessly of the impact this band has had on our lives and then out of the blue our friend claims he can get the three of us tickets. Life just got real.

And that, bizarrely, is the where TSS Rovers FC really took off. The three of us, Colin, Willie and

Darren, all coaches at TSS FC, all friends off the field, connected on a whole new level around

dreams and life. We got caught up in how a truly Canadian band had made such a difference to

our lives, all in different ways, and along with Gregor, our coaching and playing friend, we spent

months sending songs, dissecting lyrics and losing ourselves in the history of the band. It was a

great time. Soccer, coaching and The Hip. Every night, for weeks.


Somewhere during that time we got caught up in the impossible. We laughed and connected

again with the dreams. Our club can be a difference maker. Our little club does a good job. Why

not keep it going? Why not be about solutions? Why don’t we build on to our club? Look what

one band from Kingston, Ontario did…


Off to the concert we go. A farewell, and it was fantastic. A throwback. The concert was

incredible, if not for the energy and songs, more for the inclusive nature and emotional level the

crowd attained. They wanted to say goodbye in the right way. We partied one more time with

our Canadian heroes. They partied with us.


Weeks and weeks went by and we discussed the concert at the field and online whenever we

could. The football development discussions ebbed and flowed interspersed between talk of

favourite albums, songs that were growing on us again...and on and on it went. Still happens in

Fact.


The moment we went from talk to action


Each of us was enjoying a cool one on our respective home decks. It was beautiful evening and

we were all individually alone listening to The Tragically Hip in our own worlds when Colin said,

“Armed with will and determination, that’s what our pro team should be about.” It was an epiphany. It was unanimous. Willie piped in, “And with Grace Too”. It was what we all believed.

How we felt and what we couldn’t have ever said ourselves. Canadians for Canadians.

Authentically about our kids being given a chance to grow as professionals and people. Years

and years of thinking and talking about the pathway for Canadians turned into a ground swell of

action. Colin decided we would do it. It was time to have some fun.


125+ years of soccer involvement between the three of us began to come rushing into action.

TSS Rovers FC was born inside a long standing youth soccer academy will all cared about.

A community club, born from the community, for the community, over a beer, a ball and our

favourite band.


More to come from our band of merry men and women, but for now, know we aspire to deliver a

team and club, “armed with will and determination, and grace too.”


Thanks for all the support so far. Can’t wait to build a club with you all.


Colin, Willie, Darren and TSS FC.