Jimmy Brennan is no stranger to the Montreal Impact.
The former Toronto FC captain has had more than his fair share of run ins with the city’s bitter rivals, chief among those moments a 6-1 win in Canadian Championship action that has since been dubbed the “Miracle in Montreal.” Brennan, alongside teammates like Dwayne De Rosario, Amado Guevara, and Chad Barrett, went into Montreal needing nothing less than a four-goal or more victory to secure the Reds’ first-ever Voyageurs Cup. They found it, and more, and the rest is history.
Soccer, like life, has a funny way of coming full circle.
On Wednesday, Brennan the coach meets the Montreal Impact as his York9 FC prepares to embark in another round of CanChamp action. But, in the build-up to this home-and-away meeting, Brennan couldn’t help but reminisce.
“We had a good bunch of guys,” Brennan recalled, of his 2009 Canadian Championship-winning TFC side. “We were resilient. We had a group that would never give up, never say die. We felt, on that day, that everything clicked for us.
“We were determined to walk out of (Montreal’s) stadium holding the Voyageurs Cup, especially since we knew that the Whitecaps were there, thinking that they were going to be getting it,” Brennan continued, referring to the fact that the Whitecaps were on-scene watching the match, as the team was set to top the three-team “group” and win the trophy if Toronto couldn’t pull off the four-goal margin of victory they needed.
“We thought, ‘There’s no way we’re sharing this. We’re taking this trophy’ – it was a great moment … a moment we’ll never forget.”
Since those days, Brennan has hung up his playing boots, served as assistant coach of TFC, as general manager of Aurora, and, most recently, as head coach of York9 FC – and, while he carries fond memories, his focus now is entirely on the sideline.
“For me, those days are gone,” Brennan admitted. “That was my playing career and I was fortunate to have a good career and win a few things … and that was one of the special trophies that I got to win. Now, it’s about those boys in that dressing room; York9, it’s about helping them, encouraging them, and passing on the lessons that I’ve learned over the years to try to make them better.
“Going into this game now, this is all about the York9 players; they’re going to be the guys that are going to be on that field showcasing their talent and showing what they can do.”
Indeed, York Lions Stadium is expected to be rather raucous as the Impact pays a visit to Toronto north. Brennan expects the same spirit of rivalry to be present between these two cities, despite the change in location … and, as such, he’s hoping the Impact leave York Region with the familiar post-battle blues.
“I wouldn’t expect them to say too many nice things!” Brennan offered, with a chuckle, when asked what sort of response he hopes to garner from his opposites in Montreal. “The one thing that you’d like you hear is that we’re a club that tried to play football the right way. Our guys are all comfortable on the ball, our style of play and our philosophy is really starting to come out with our players and I think it’d be a good football match.
“When the Impact walk away, I hope they’ll say ‘That’s a good footballing side and those young Canadians know how to play the game the right way.'”