A Beautiful Night for Football - Part 1
The night started off a bit rough. I forgot my daughter, Emma, at daycare. My wife and I had a chuckle, although I am sure she was thinking ‘Idiot.’ I won’t live that senior’s moment down any time soon. I blame the day job. Emma was no worse for the wear.
By the time my wife ran around the corner to bring our forgotten child home, I beg for a big kiss and a hug and tell her daddy’s sorry he forgot he was a father for a few brief moments, get some food into her belly, it was 6:30pm.
I still hadn’t made any plans to attend the season opener. I work better under pressure.
I uploaded a last minute search on my Facebook page for anyone interested in going to the game, and I made a couple quick phone calls. Maybe I should have planned this a little better.
I checked my Facebook one more time, but by now it was 5 minutes to kick-off.
I had attended many games by myself in the past when, last minute, I got the sudden urge to go to a game, or I couldn’t find anybody to join me in the pre-Bob Young era when the Cats were getting clobbered in front of an empty stadium – as opposed to getting humiliated in front of a capacity crowd, so I decided I would make this one of those games. More often than not, when you have lived in a city like Hamilton your entire life, you are bound to run into a few friends at the game anyway.
I quickly got changed, threw on my Ti-Cats cap for good luck, kissed the family goodnight, and meandered over to the stadium. My wife offered to drive me, but walking to Ivor Wynne was part of the experience.
No parking to be had within blocks of the game. Foot traffic was light, but of course the game had already started.
We live close enough that we can hear muffled sounds from the stadium from our front porch - especially when the east bound winds catch the energy of Ivor Wynne on a calm summers day. As I made my way through King George/Parkview school parking lots though, I was quickly reminded that there is nothing like standing outside a packed stadium, listening to the cheers, the voices over the loudspeakers, and seeing the hustle and bustle of bodies moving back and forth across the upper east end zone walkway – other than sitting in the stands of course.
I walk up to the box office window and purchase a ticket, greeted by a woman I went to high school with. See, I already knew someone. Ticket in hand, and a nice to see you again, I make my way into the stadium, grab a drink, support the local 50/50 ticket seller people, promise part of my winnings to the nice ticket seller lady, and find my seat.
I quickly befriend the gentleman sitting next to me; Collin, a season ticket holder in section 23 for 6 years, a retired Dofasco employee, enjoying the game with one of his grand kids.
I didn’t get a program, but Collin’s granddaughter was generous enough to give me hers. (I love the comic book look by the way) I check the roster. I miss the days I knew a couple of the players personally, and a handful were local Hamilton talent - so many new names.
Half time came before I knew it. A couple of promising drives before the 2nd quarter closed, giving the Hamilton somewhat faithful something to cheer about. Half time was one of my favorite parts of the game time experience. The end zone parties were always good and more often than not, that’s where old friends could be found. I made my way down to the north/east end zone, welcomed by a rocking band – the half time gatherings alone are worth the price of admission.
Sure enough, I run into my cousin and his wife. I stop to have a drink with them, catch up a little bit, and then I wonder off to finally put some dinner in my belly. Of course, no game day experience is complete without a big old hot dog.
I make my way back to my seat a few minutes into the 3rd quarter. I hadn’t missed much. The Allouettes were all over us, and we had started the season off where we left it 7 months ago – in penalty trouble. Losing all the time is hard enough. Watching undisciplined penalties is is probably the most frustrating part of the debacle however.
The 50/50 draw is announced – mass exodus #1. I can’t quit my job but someone in our section wins. He walks down the aisle way, welcomed by cheers and ‘way to go’s’ and ‘beer’s on that guy’.
Allouette’s score again. 33-3 – mass exodus #2. “Why are you still watching this game??, one dejected fan yells into the stands as he walks by.
Inner voice: ‘Because it’s a beautiful, warm summers night, and I am a fan of Canadian football first – a Ti-Cat fan second.’
Collin and I don’t understand why anyone would buy a ticket to a game, and leave with 7 minutes left? Losing or not. Especially on a night like tonight?
Shortly after. Printers out, Williams in. 4 minutes left in the game. A big gaping hole opens up, and Smith runs it 75 yards for a touchdown. A reward for the die hard fans.
The final seconds wind down. There were some decent highlights to reflect on anyway.
I am invited by my new friend to join him any game. We shake hands, and I make my way home. It is still fairly warm. The skies are clear. So much for that storm.
I arrive home. The dog and cat are excited to see me. I take them for a walk, give them their night time treats, chat with my wife, steel the laptop from her, and turn on the computer to check my Facebook.
A message from jolly old England: “Larry, if I was there I'd go to the game with you!?
“Next time you are in town for sure,? I reply.
A couple other friends messaged me while I was burning the midnight oil writing this article. It seems I have a few more people I an call next time.