I’ve been a CFL fan most of my life. Specifically an Edmonton Eskimo Fan, but I have always liked the league. And the rivalries. There is nothing like the Edmonton/Calgary – ‘Battles of Alberta’. They go beyond sports too. Both cities constantly throw barbs at each other for everything. It’s fun actually. But like a family, Edmonton can insult Calgary and vice versa, but if anyone outside the family insults Alberta…..well, look out……they unite as a front and will defend their provincial turf. They are united in Politics too, that’s for sure.
You sort of have to live there to understand it.
At any rate, the CFL is a big deal in Alberta.
My early memories of football include buying end zone tickets for Clarke Stadium at the Northgate Mall. Woodward’s department store had something called “The Knothole Gang” and they sold inexpensive seats to kids. You’d join the “Gang” and then get a crest for your jacket and a membership card. What a great idea. Wonder if that happens now anywhere?
I then remember the 1971 Grey Cup played in Empire Stadium Vancouver when Leon McQuay fumbled the ball in the rain and the Calgary Stampeders won the game. Leo Cahill, the Toronto Coach protested the call for the last 45 years because the ground cannot cause a fumble. They needed the command center back then.
My parents had a Grey Cup party at our house that year and it was rowdy….in a good way. There was lots of cigarettes, booze, cardboard boxes of Old Dutch Potato Chips, Cheese Flings, pretzels and other party food. Did I mention booze? Stubby Beer bottles.
I think that was the day I became a CFL lifer.
I bought season’s tickets for the 1973 season at Clarke Stadium. Those tickets are still in my family. My sister Rose has them and they now have nearly 45 years history. Her name is on this wall in Commonwealth Stadium. She showed me in person once.
I think Rose felt a little guilty when she showed me her name…….there was no need to be. She deserves to be up there. But she did give me this Dave Cutler autographed Game Jersey for my birthday a few years ago……it’s a beauty. I worked with Dave at CHED……what a super human being. We are even Rose. I love you!!
My Dad and I attended the games for the first few years. CFL fans will remember that the Green and Gold went on a 3 year run 73/74/75 going to the Grey Cup. They lost in 73 and 74 but won in 1975 in a thrilling 9-8 victory over Montreal. They did not win the West in 1976, in fact finished 3rd, but beat BC to go to Taylor Field to play the hated Saskatchewan Roughriders. That’s the year Ottawa beat Sask with the Tony Gabriel touchdown late in the game. That was sweet as an Edmonton fan.
Fans will also remember that the Eskimos went to the Grey Cup for the next 6 years in a row and won 5 in a row after that Montreal Icy field game in 1977. They did get thier revenge though with that record championship run.
It was easy being a fan during that time. I speak for all Eskimo fans when I say we were so obnoxious. Insufferable.
I went to every home game for at least 5 years……and oh baby…….they were sloppy. We’d always get a 26oz of Royal Reserve and mix it with a 2 litre Coke Classic in a some container….any container…..even an empty chlorine container once. I guess we’d sneak it in somehow, but they didn’t really check back then like they do now. It would be gone by halftime……all the time. Technically, that would prevent us from even knowing what happened in the second half and getting home was always a challenge. I have some embarrassing stories with my Dad and my Brother in law Rick at those games. Maybe for another time.
I played the obnoxious fan role well. I remember going back to Moose Jaw for the 1980 Grey Cup. It was a party with the CHAB staff, where I worked the previous year. I was giving 30 points……and won….the final was 48-10 for Edmonton. I even made a bet that Edmonton would score the first time they touched the ball……..they did. Dave Cutler kicked a field goal.
So they won 5 in a row and five times since 1982. No question, a great team and great organisation.
Edmonton is a great sports town. It really is.
Did you know the Eskimo team used to send all the media in Edmonton game tickets? Before every game, usually on the Friday, they would host a lunch at Molson House with BBQ steaks and beer and the coach and some players would be there. It was called the “Pig Skinner’s Club” Very classy and a very smart way to get the local media on side with the team.
Over the years, I’ve lost a bit of the passion for the team and the league. Mostly because I now understand that I should not get upset over things I have no control over. And sports outcomes are one of those things. I still cheer for them and I have a good freind Jeff Lumby who is a Saskatchewan fan, well not really, he couldn’t give a crap about them or the league, but he loves to bug me when they lose so that keeps it fun. I also work with a Stampeder fan who is a fantastic guy but an obnoxious homer…….can’t blame him for that, right? Takes one to know one.
I still have memorabilia like this autographed helmet from the 1996 Grey Cup team. I bought it at an auction in Toronto one night. Edmonton was robbed of the Cup that year with a bad call. Flutie fumbled the ball and it was a no call. Brutal. But I’m over it….see above.
My sister Rose is the crazy one now……..she is the CFL’s most engaged fan. Knows all the teams, all the players, all the coaches, all the game plans, all the stadiums, you name it, she’s into it. When we were in Halifax, she and my niece came out for the Eskimo game in Moncton. They call it their annual adventure and they go to an Eskimo game every year on the road. We went for dinner in Moncton and who do you think was at the restaurant as well? Yup, many Eskimo team players and coaches. They actually couldn’t get a seat, so my sister invited Jason Tucker to our table. Alex loved that. I think he was looking for a free lobster. But nice guy.
I’ve been to 2 Grey Cups in person, truth is, I could have gone to many many more, but I’ve had my experience. The first one was in 1989 in Toronto. It was Hamilton versus Saskatchewan at Skydome. I went with my Mom and Dad and Adam who was 6 years old. Great game, great time.
The last Grey Cup I went to was 2010 in Edmonton. Montreal versus Saskatchewan. It was amazing but I froze my ass off with my Mom, Rose, and Mary Ann.
We hosted a lot of Grey Cup parties over the years. Some were amazing…..a few were a bust. But the spirit was always there.
I have never missed watching a Grey Cup and I will not break the string tonight when it’s played here in Ottawa. Calgary versus Toronto. Go Argos!!!! Go Rickie Ray!!!!!
And in the meantime………
We’re cheering fight, fight, fight on Eskimos
We’re marching right, right, right on Eskimos
We’re charging down the field for all to see
And shouting rah, rah, rah, fight on to victory
We’re fighting on ‘til every game is won
The green and gold is bold and when we’re done
We’ll tell the world we’re proud of Edmonton
Have a listen here……
Did you know…….
- The Roar of the Rings starts next weekend in Ottawa. It will determine who represents Canada at the upcoming Olympic games in South Korea. Team Homan will be there as reigning Canadian and World Champions. The Ottawa curling club held a send off party on Friday and unveiled the World Championship banner. Good luck ladies. It will be very difficult to win so whoever does, is deserving.
- The radio ratings come out on Thursday. It’s always a nerve wracking day. The system isn’t perfect but it’s important especially in the Fall. Good luck not only to our Rogers stations, but to the industry. Radio remains a vital and popular and profitable medium in Canada, although some companies have been slashing their way to profitability. Not good. There are many great people employed in the industry who deserve a good report card.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week.