$89. Only an hour away from my home. After following the CFL for 50+ years since moving here from New York, this would be my first ever Grey Cup. Who cared that I don't like the Redblacks and can't stand the Stampeders? (Sorry, Calgary fans. I lived in Edmonton for 6 years. That rivalry is a virus that gets into your blood fast.) Ottawa? Well, Burris isn't my favorite, I really do believe the 'Cats got jobbed, and hey.... I wanted the 'Cats to be in the Cup. But let's not talk about my envy.....
My son, 31 and a true CFL fan, came with me. We sat on the goal line, south-east section near the top. (Almost identical seats to those we had at an earlier Cat-Argo game AND an MLS game.
Couldn't make it down early due to other commitments. Even then, the prices for many of the venues looked very expensive. It's no wonder to me that they were't well attended. Unfortunately, that bit made it into tons of downer news stories today.
Driving and parking was no problem and even though the parking lots had ratcheted up their prices there were tons of empty spots. The gougers who put out extra personnel lost. It was pretty obvious that many of those attending were from out of town and so were not driving.
As we walked into the stadium it was truly a CFL fest. Almost everyone was in team colours.... well, except for a couple of NFL jersies (probably from those having freebie seats) and the young man in front of us looking a bit out of place in a San Diego Sharks Jersey with Thornton on the nameplate.
The best represented team was Ottawa. Calgary and Hamilton were next with a lot of Toronto gear evident too. Saskatchewan next, then Edmonton, with the occasional Vancouver fan. We didn't see even one Montreal jersey... not one.
Seeing our 'Cat gear, lots of people asked us about the reffing calls.... some to sympathize, others to kid us. Nobody was belligerent. Everybody got along. It was like a big community- and it was - the community of CFL fans. It felt like home.
It sure wouldn't have been home for Trudeau. As soon as his video came up the boos rang out- as loud as any cheering we heard that day. Don't let the news tell you that there were scattered boos. It was loud and we only heard about 5 words that he said in a 3 minute video. Why? Lots of western fans, CFL fans are probably more conservative (small 'c') in that they hold onto cheering for a game that many people think represents the past, more male, even less ethnically diverse and older. (There are markets the CFL needs to do better in.) And, of course, there were the Castro statements. It was a funny moment because the response was so genuine and so spontaneous.
The the anthem. Almost everyone sang.... and really sang instead of just mouthing the words. Best anthem singing I have EVER heard in Canada. My grown son actually had tears in his eyes.
Who should we root for? It came down to the East and so we started cheering for the Redblacks. Within 30 seconds my son - who felt that he probably wouldn't enjoy the game because of the teams - was cheering lustily. It was - if not the best - then one of the 3 best football games I've attended in my life. Yes, the number of commercial breaks and how they interrupted the flow of the game was annoying. (The first came only 2 minutes and 4 seconds into the game!)
There were also too many challenge calls and... being Hamilton fans... we didn't trust any decision that left the field. By the end of the game those in our section had bought into our Ti-Cat whining and were calling "The Command Centre" instead "The Opinion Closet" along with us.
But what a game. Loads of mistakes AND great defensive plays. That over the shoulder interception by a RedBlack was itself worth the price of admission. Bad Hank only showed up on 1 play. There were goal line stands, an onside kick, fumbles galore, and the story line of an underdog roaring into the lead, giving it up late and looking lost, and then pulling it out of the fire.
Lots of people loved the 1/2 time show. We stood in lines and watched the coloured electronic bracelets on our wrists pulsate. Got up for the last song. Not our music but everyone was happy and the light show was great.
We realized that perhaps we also enjoyed this game more than any other we had ever seen. No, they weren't our teams. But the play was exciting and we had a special bonus. The game and the whole experience was so good, that the fact that we really didn't care who won was actually a good thing. I've been under a lot of stress lately and it was just so nice to be able to take the time to really enjoy the football and the experience WITHOUT stressing about the score or replay calls.
The only thing that might have made it nicer would have been to buy a T shirt perhaps.... but at $40 there were very few takers. Lots of people walked away when hearing the price and there were stacks left over afterwards.... when they shut the gear booths immediately. Pretty sure that at $20 a pop they would have sold out. Oh well...
So for those of you who have never gone to a game.... take the chance like we did next year in Ottawa. Go, have a blast, take some friends, and experience a Grey Cup. I am SO glad that I did.
Any other stories from the game out there?