Never mind the rabid Riders fans who eat, sleep and dream Green -- Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans cannot even compare to those in Montreal come playoff time.
While the Saskatchewan Roughriders sold out their Western semifinal game within hours, the Bombers had sold just 15,251 tickets for this Sunday's Eastern semifinal versus the Alouettes as of yesterday afternoon.
"(It) surprises me in a way because I'm used to Montreal hosting a home playoff game, seeing our regular 20,000 (fans) go to somewhere over 50,000," Bombers head coach Doug Berry said yesterday. "So, it's somewhat surprising to me that it's not an automatic sellout."
The Als usually move from Percival Molson Stadium to the much bigger Olympic Stadium for home playoff dates.
However, the former Montreal assistant coach is not disappointed by the sluggish sales.
"The support we get from the people that are here will certainly be the true fans and we'll get a lot of support from them, I'm sure," Berry said.
But Bombers GM Brendan Taman, who just attended the Riders' last home game in Regina last week, is bitterly baffled.
"I pity (Calgary quarterback) Henry Burris coming in there because I don't know how they're going to get the cadence," he said. "That place will be an absolute nuthouse and that's a huge advantage for Saskatchewan. I'd love (Montreal QB) Marcus Brady to come in here and not be able to hear. I'm not sure that's going to happen.
"It's disappointing. Doug's going to educate our guys, and say, 'Hey listen, this isn't necessarily going to be the crowd you're used to seeing during the season.' So, we're not going to shock them when they come out here on game day, going, 'Oh my gosh, what's that?' I'm not going to lie to you. From a football point of view, it's disappointing because we won home field advantage, and part of that is to have the crowd behind us and as loud as they can be when the other team has the ball."
The Bombers, who are 7-2 at home this year, boasted five straight sellouts earlier this season and the resulting din is an added dimension to the contests.
"As a coach, I'm oblivious to it most of the time until I need it in the fourth quarter," Berry said.
"I know it's there when I see the other team trying to get a hurry-up offence going and they can't communicate. It's really big, especially down the stretch in a tight game."
The Bombers are scratching their heads over the alarming lack of support.
"I've got scalpers coming up to me on my way into the (Saskatchewan) game selling me playoff tickets, and not for the face value," Taman said. "And I'm thinking, 'What am I missing here?' We're talking about the semifinal here. It's a different world over there.
"I've heard people say it's the weather and all that. Well, they're in the semifinal, we're in the semifinal. Momentum and all that, I know, but if you take that example, they just got killed (by Toronto). And if we'd have lost to Montreal like that, are we getting 15,000?"
The players are sure hoping for a big, boisterous crowd.
"I hope they're all going to come because we need them," said offensive tackle Alexandre Gauthier. "That's the 13th man on the field. When it's noisy, and we know fans from Winnipeg are pretty noisy when they want to be, that's great to have them with us.
"It's going to be a good game, too."
in what will be milt steggal's last game in winnipeg, and after a hard fought season the Bombers have only sold 15,000 tickets to this sundays playoff game.
winnipeg, u make me sick!