Here's a great story by the Calgary Herald (Oct 2) about the Ticats.....and exactly how Marwan Hage feels about this team and how much he wants us to win the Grey Cup....perfect for this Pep Rally thread I'd say !!
[url=http://www.calgaryherald.com/sports/Glory+days+help+Ticats+keep+faith/2061450/story.html]http://www.calgaryherald.com/sports/Glo ... story.html[/url]
Glory days help Ticats keep the faith
By George Johnson, Calgary Herald
October 2, 2009
Marwan Hage enjoys kicking back with big Angelo Mosca and listening to tales of yesteryear; of a long-ago time when the Tabbies had the swagger, the sass and the Grey Cup rings to back it all up.
"I spend a lot time with Ang,'' says the sixth-year centre. "He's a wonderful guy. And he says when they were winning Grey Cup championships, the place lit up like Las Vegas. He tells you there's nothing like it.
"I can only imagine.
"Hamilton's a football town. A small town with a big heart. We're 6-6 and people act like we're 12-0. You walk around town and people are slapping you on the back, high-fiving you, telling you to keep going. They've had enough losing, too.''
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats arrived here for this early evening game against the Calgary Stampeders as the surprise entry of the 2009 season. They've already won as many games as the last two seasons combined. Marcel Bellefeuille has to be the frontrunner for coach-of-year at the moment.
A once-proud organization battered to its knees, on the canvas and taking a mandatory eight-count, is back on its feet, ready to rock 'n' roll once again.
For anyone with the slightest sense of history, it's shaping up as a lovely story.
"Stability,'' says Hage. "That's what we have now. And what matters. In ownership. In management. The coaching staff. A lot of great players have come through Hamilton during my time here--more than a few Hall of Famer-calibre guys -- but most of them didn't stay long. In. Out. In. Out. That revolving door just kept spinning. Players. Coaches. It made you dizzy.
"You want to build a team, you go through some pain. But you stick with it. You develop a core and fill in around it. Quick fixes and band-aids don't work.
"Calgary is a great example. Henry (Burris) has been here a few years now. A lot of their key guys have.
"That's why they're defending Grey Cup champions.''
Safety Sandy Beveridge has the distinction -- if that, under the circumstances, is the right term --of being the longest-serving Ticat. He arrived in Steeltown as an undrafted free agent out of UBC seven years ago. The Cats promptly tinkled outside the litter box, stumbling and bumbling to a tragicomic 1-17.
"You know, it really didn't seem THAT bad at the time,'' he says wistfully. "Probably because everything was new to me. I was a rookie. In pro ball. Just trying to keep up, fit in and show I actually belonged. I was kind of wide-eyed and taking everything in. So in that sense, it really didn't hit me as hard as it could've.
"If I had to go through a 1-17 season now? Brutal.''
Marwan Hage joined up a year later, in 2004, when the Tabbies performed one of the great endarounds in CFL history, picking themselves up off the bottom of the compost heap to actually qualify for the playoffs at 9-8-1 (they haven't so much as sighted the post-season, or a .500 record, since).
"Everyone,'' he recalls now, "was SO excited that year. I'd come in from a successful college program (Colorado), where we'd been champions and everyone took winning as a habit. So I get to Hamilton, we make the playoffs, everybody's jumping up and down and I'm kind of shaking my head, thinking: 'Hey, what's the big deal!?'
"Well, I found out. "I was humbled.''
No wonder. Since then, five wins, four, three and three. The Ticats became a knock-knock joke with an unending series of punchlines.
"I think the hardest time for me was the end of last season,'' says Hage. "The year is over and you have to start revving yourself up for the next one. But you feel drained, losing all the time. It leaves you kind of limp. Knowing that by Thanksgiving you're always out of the hunt, an afterthought. It's tough to pick yourself up.''
But pick himself up he has. They all have.
"I'm happiest for (owner) Bob Young,'' says Beveridge. "He's put a lot of his hard-earned money into this team. And our fans pay their hard-earned money to attend the games. You want to give them something back. You see a lot of the same faces year after year. At the park. At promotional functions, at maybe a McDonald's or a Tim Hortons. They get their Big Mac or their coffee, ask for autographs and talk football.
"Those are the people I feel great for. The ones who've kept the faith.''
Hage says that even during the darkest moments, faith has never been an issue for those in the stands at Ivor Wynne.
"Our fans have always been great. They care. They've been at the stadium through some pretty tough times. They could've turned their back on us. They didn't. They might've booed, but they showed up. They were THERE. And that's all you can ask for. It's like the guy who's always whining: 'My father was hard on me!'
"Hey, don't complain pal. At least you had a father.''
Kicking back with the baddest Ticat of 'em all, big Ang, Marwan Hage hears the stories of what it's like to be a champion in the city steel. He listens and he wonders.
"I know he's dying to see it happen again. I'm dying. Everybody on this team, in town, is dying for it, too. We're not there yet, obviously, but we're headed in the right direction. After what we've gone through, of course you appreciate it more.
[u]"Celebrating a Grey Cup in Hamilton? Like I say, right now I can only imagine.
"I don't want to imagine. "I want to live it. I want to know.''[/u]