I’ve never been a huge football fan generally, nor of the CFL specifically. I did support the Edmonton Eskimos as a kid — I distinctly remember them winning Grey Cup #75 back in 1987 — but was never obsessed with them the way I was (am) with hockey and the Montreal Canadiens.
However, when my friend CBJ asked us if we wanted to see the 100th Grey Cup right here in Toronto, well…how were we to pass that up? We let him do all the ticket-ordering work (and take in all the pre-game festivities in the days leading up) and met him for a little pre-game barbecue at Triple A in the quiet part of town on Sunday, before taking a slow streetcar to the Rogers Centre.
Thoughts on the game:
- While I don’t generally back either Toronto or Calgary (the Edmonton bias still lingers), I was obviously pulling for the Argos because…well, home town.
- The opening play from scrimmage was a Calgary interception, so it didn’t look good early on. But Toronto just put the pedal down in the first half and coasted from there. Calgary didn’t score a major until the final seconds, so the game wasn’t even as close as the 35-22 score suggested.
- Chad Kackert was a monster. Jon Cornish was all but shut down.
- It wasn’t a classic game, but any time you can see the 100th championship it’s pretty special.
Thoughts about everything surrounding the game:
- Seats at the Rogers Centre suck balls. Even the really expensive ones.
- CFL fans are hardcore. This city was filled with people in BC jerseys, Edmonton jerseys, Montreal jerseys (okay, not many of those), Winnipeg Jerseys, Hamilton jerseys (okay, not many of those either) and Saskatchewan jerseys (TONS of those!), even though their teams weren’t in the Grey Cup. And the arena was filled with far more Riders fans than Stamps fans, even though Calgary was playing. Crazy.
- Those same out-of-town fans, were scandalized, SCANDALIZED I tell you, by the price of beer. Obviously $9.75 for a tall boy of Bud is ridiculous, but we Torontonians are used to it, whereas it was a special sort of hell for all the prairie boys.
- Also, one gentlemen I saw who was clearly from Hamilton seemed awfully concerned about all the “faggots” in Toronto, and made sure all of us in line knew that. I’m not sure why he thought all Torontonian faggots were at the Grey Cup, or why they were interested in accosting him in particular, but he seemed to have his reasons. My guess: insecurity and a terrible upbringing.
- Strangest exchange of the night, with a man dressed/painted entirely in red, who spoke to me in the concourse on my way to buy a beer: HIM: “You look like a man on a mission! Are you looking for a pepperoni?!” ME: “Ummm…no.” HIM: “OK, I’ll help you!” ME: *slides quickly into nearest line* HIM: *Continues ranting about pepperoni all the way down the concourse, not noticing that I was no longer alongside him*
- The entertainment was…well, embarrassing. Burton Cummings must have been wasted, because he fucked up “O Canada” twice and sang it over a clicky-beepy drum & bass line you expect to hear from a cheap Casio keyboard. Carly Rae Bieber Trench were a continuum of disgraceful lip-syncing over pre-recorded fluff; Bieber in particular got his ass booed but good. I know he was there for TV ratings, but they had to expect a CFL-football-loving crowd was not going to react well to that juvenile calliope. Thank goodness for Gordon Lightfoot, who actually SANG. And PLAYED. REAL. MUSIC. And REMEMBERED THE WORDS, Burton. Not one of these performers was from my era, but I can recognize the ones with an actual ability to perform live music.
- Walking out of the Rogers Centre and through downtown Toronto with a lot of excited fans gave me a tiny, tiny taste of what would happen if the Leafs ever won the Stanley Cup. Fortunately, that will never happen.
Pics from the night: