From Canada Kicks

Lynx Losing Hope
A-League's #1 Mom Looks On in Despair.
by Paul Hendren
Monday, August 17, 1998 06:23:24 PM
  (Toronto, August 16, 1998)   She came armed for battle.  Her weapons of choice included a large bell, a megaphone and a horn.  Her strategic perch under the press box helped her bellowing chants cascade over Varsity Stadium’s west grandstand.  Her name is Theresa Johnson and her claim to fame is her devoted loyalty to her son’s vocation as a soccer player.

Number 20 is the apple of her eye, a young up and comer who on this date cracked the Lynx starting eleven.  Theresa Johnson’s journey into soccer motherhood started when her son Danley turned to the beautiful game at the tender age of six.  A product of the famous Malvern Magic youth soccer program the fleet footed Danley Johnson progressed through the provincial ranks only to join Tony Taylor’s national squad for their successful showing at last summer’s Francophone games.  Danley forfeited his education, including a potential collegiate soccer career, and turned professional at the young age of eighteen.  A move that to this day has caused a stir within the Johnson household.

Johnson and his Lynx teammates were in for the fight of their playoff lives.  A win would throw a wrench into Worcester and Staten Island’s post season plans and a loss would virtually assure Toronto of a shortened season.  The Hampton Road Mariners made the trek to nostalgic Varsity Stadium for Sunday afternoon’s contest.   The Mariners (14 - 7) are an impressive unit from Virginia Beach who took a shellacking in Rochester Friday evening and the Lynx (8 - 15) were coming off an impressive victory over Vancouver Wednesday in Hamilton.  Not only do the Lynx’ and the Mariners’ records contrast but the two clubs share little in common. Hampton Roads , with their aspirations of joining Major League Soccer in the next millennium and their million dollar budget, recently moved into their new digs at the splendid Virginia Beach Sports Complex  - a facility that has caught the eye of the United States Soccer Federation for future international fixtures.  Toronto , on the other hand , with their shoe string budget, have been faced with monumental task of looking for a new home when the wrecking balls invade Varsity next year.

Sunday’s encounter was less than a classic.  Few scoring chances by both sides, sloppy play on the part of the home team and a multitude of chippy fouls that caught the eye (or the whistle) of London based referee Steve DiPiero.

Toronto were unlucky not to crack the score sheet when a clinical pass by Nikki Vignsevic found Phil Caporrella in full stride. Mariners’ goalkeeper Jon Busch saved brilliantly by bravely diving at the onrushing Caporella. Busch was the difference of the afternoon with his competent if not spectacular play.  A veteran of three A - League teams Busch had try outs with both Tampa Bay as well as  Chicago of MLS and he has several offers from Europe.

At the forty forth minute mark Toronto’s luck turned dreadfully bad when Franco Spadifina was called for a hand ball resulting in a penalty.  The penalty was easily converted by Bulgarian import Dinn Angelov sending a blanket of silence over the 1545 in attendance.  Even the boisterous Theresa Johnson appeared to be at a loss for words as the first half came to a close.

The second half proved uneventful and Toronto’s only threats came off set plays engineered by Serbian import Nikki Vignjevic.  The tall lanky midfielder also demonstrated his pedigree with some masterful dribbling but his teammates were unable to convert his clever passes.  Hampton Roads played a perfect road game by bending and not breaking relying on their goalkeeper to absorb the pressure.  As the final seconds ticked away the Mariners converted their second of the game off the foot of Joe Herrmann, a native of Virginia Beach and a player brought on as a substitute for his defensive strengths.

As the masses filed out of Varsity Stadium Theresa Johnson looked on with a disappointed smile.  Even though Danley’s summer past time will be apparently coming to an unceremonious conclusion in the upcoming weeks the likeable Theresa will soon be turning her attention to Toronto’s hockey rinks where her fourteen year old son plies his gifted skills for a team known as the ‘East Enders’.  Canadian sport needs more people like Theresa Johnson and A - League soccer has been blessed by her presence in the terraces.


Lynx part owner Bruno Hartrell, an accountant by trade, is frequently seen either counting heads in Varsity’s west stand or operating the team’s video equipment.  Canada Kicks spent time with the man who carries the lofty title as Vice President to excavate his reflections on the first two years and to see what he offers up as the team’s future.

Hartrell indicated that the Lynx will definitely be around for more seasons.  He reported, however, that their original plan of three years has been pushed to five years to accommodate the organizations inexperience and growing pains.   Hartrell even boldly predicted that should they not deviate from their own strategic plans the Lynx will eventually out draw their Canadian A - League cousins in Montreal and Vancouver.  Off the field he identified the need to hire individuals competent in marketing instead of relying on people only from the soccer community with little marketing experience.  On the field Hartrell believes the signing of players like Jim Larkin is a commitment to improving the roster.  (Larkin was signed to a multi - year contract).

With specific reference to the potential venue problem for the Lynx when Varsity Stadium is demolished as early as next year Hartrell does not see it as an obstacle.  He believes the greater Toronto area , including Hamilton, has enough venues for the Lynx to choose, including a new Varsity, conditional that it has a natural grass or ‘Fieldturf’ pitch.

Overall Hartrell has seen his team grow slowly and he is confident that by next season they will be able to double their seasons ticket base.

"Back to Lynx menu">