Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Home Is Where the Playoff Game Is

I have a confession to make - I was too busy this afternoon brooding over why the Leader-Post suddenly decided to break out a new shade of Conservative blue for its front page less than a week after a Sask Party election victory to actually write anything about the Roughrider game. Probably just a coincidence. And yes, I know the Sask Party and the Conservatives are not one and the same but as they say, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... And yes, this is how my brain works - blame it on fluoridation or non-fluoridation, whichever it is we have here, I can never remember. It's probably all the fault of the Communists in any case.

I'm not in the best position to tell the story of the first playoff game in the Greater Regina Area since 1988 anyway. When I walked into the establishment where I watched the game, I immediately enquired as to whether we could turn the TV to the Cowboys/Giants game. That idea was not greeted was much enthusiasm I can assure you. But the Roughrider game was enjoyable to watch, even on TV. My personal highlight was Chris Walby heckling the crowd with a live mic right in front of him - this story is made even better by the fact that an acquaintance of mine claims to be the one who started yelling at Walby.

Since I was not at the game, you are in luck because our own Cooper smooth-talked his way into a ticket and filed the following eyewitness account:

Memories of a Roughrider home playoff game, not so different than “Memories of Montreal Steak Spice” from our friends at President's Choice. A game that, like the spice, had some kick - some pizazz, some razzle-dazzle and a lot of tension. I have been to a lot of Roughrider home games in my time, the majority of which were spent in the now long-lost University Section. I thought that with the closure of that legendary section I would never again see the same exuberance and emotion from fans that I had witnessed there. However, the Riders first home playoff game in 19 years gave birth to a new section. One that is twice as loud as the University Section, twice as rowdy, three times as exuberant, and by all estimations, ten to twenty times drunker than anything ever seen in the old University Section.

Our seats were located in Section 205 in the upper deck on the West Side, Row 12. I was in Seat 36, right at the end of the aisle…Perfect! We got to Taylor Field roughly an hour before kickoff and the place was already packed. Getting out of the car you knew that it was going to be a special day. The practice field was jammed packed with fans getting their pre-game drink on. However, our childish glee was temporarily extinguished on our entrance to the stadium after security confiscated our flasks…To the people at “Securitas”, you have made the list! Then there was the walk up to the upper deck. A brutal climb up what has to be a 75 degree grade, which some fans refer to as “The Death March”. After stopping on the 1st level to catch our breath and get our Rider Ryes we continued on our trek to section 205. We got to our seats with 40 minutes to go till kickoff and the stadium was already 2/3’s full and rockin’. Upon our arrival at our seats we were each given complimentary CFL “Thunder Sticks” which were of the cheapest quality. Ours suffered catastrophic blowouts shortly into the first quarter.

5 minutes to kickoff... being with 29,000 people singing the National Anthem literally gives you chills.

Finally it’s kickoff, what we have all been waiting for. A decent return on a short kick leads to Joseph's TD pass to Flick. The place goes insane. I honestly thought the upper deck was going to collapse in on itself and kill everyone below. The playing of the Roughrider fight song after the touchdown and every score thereafter was a beautiful touch, every fan singing along in unison. Then on Calgary’s first possession we recover a Burris fumble, the crowd takes it up a notch even higher. Chants of “Burris Sucks” rained down. A Pilsner can (big surprise) goes flying over my head directed towards the lone Stamps fan 3 rows below…bullseye! The near deafening crowd noise was continuous throughout the majority of the game. A lot of the time I couldn’t hear Scott talking next to me.

With 5 minutes left in the 2nd quarter I went down below to get some more refreshments. To my shock - the entire upper deck was out of liquor! Beer, Rye, Vodka, you name it…all gone. I head down a level…same result. So I decide to get a hot dog instead. Wrong! All gone as well. How about a hamburger…at $30.00 a pop who can resist? Well not too many I guess as they are all sold out as well. It is not even halftime yet and the West Side is out of food and drink. Brutal!! Note to management: When holding the biggest game in well, almost ever, you may want to prepare! Anyway, halftime arrives and Trooper is playing in the South end zone to entertain us all. Well unfortunately our section missed out on the performance with the lack of speakers, same thing goes for Captain Tractor at the start of the 4th quarter.

I will fast forward to the end of the 4th quarter because I am pressed for time.

The place is going absolutely apesh*t. I mean crazy! Then it appears Calgary recovers the onside kick and it is like a funeral just broke out. People are in complete shock. Could the Riders being doing it to us again? Thankfully Ken Lazurak confirms the offside call and we recover the subsequent re-kick. With Joseph's kneel-down as time expires, the place goes mental. It really was something special. Hands down the best game I have been too all because of the atmosphere created by us the fans. We were loud as hell, even louder when the Stamps had the ball (as witnessed by many procedure and offside calls) and unbelievably quite while we were on offense. It was fantastic!

I also have to add this tidbit. On the ride home listening to the call in show on CKRM an obviously elderly lady phoned in asking about the upcoming game in BC. Here is what her question/comment was, “Will they allow the BC fans to have those noise making sticks at their game? Cause if they do that is not fair at all. That’s for Rider fans.” Priceless. I love the absolute close-mindedness of some of the brain dead, hick fans we have in this province. Yes I am talking to you Mr. Al-Choholic #32, wearing the Pilsner box as a hat.


Trebor said...

Last year I went to Calgary to see the game and same thing they ran out of booze. I guess the CFL underestimates how drunk the fans need/want to be.

Also no complaints about pricing anymore. The game I was at $8 a beer... i know 5 or 6 dollars wahtever it is now is a lot but get to 8 then complain.

So i missed the game I was in washington to see the skins play the ealges. It would have been nice to go to the game or even be in the city with all this going on but honestly I wouldn't take it back, NFL live is such a great expereince.

I talked to the g/f who was also at the game and then read coopers report and one thing in common: beer being thrown at stamp fans. this makes no sense and makes me want to hang my head...why do people do that.

I was discussing this with the editor and simply put I've been to 2 NFL games both rivalry games philly at dallas and philly at washinton (not a phillies fan they just are playing at right time right place) and I've never seen anything like that.

The mood....tone of the crowd is so much different. I couldn't imagine someone throwing anything at a philly fan anywhere in the stadium, or the other personal favorite jeer of "your gay"..."your a (insert team name here) fan, your gay"

They aren't hugging each other and high fiving when there's good plays made. There's tension and back and forths bewteen groups but nothing that makes everyone turn around and think who said that or who was the *#%& that did that.

started watching NFL replay and lost my train a thought.. i think i was going to end with you have to go down to an NFL game. not just to see a good game on the field but in the stands as well.

Anonymous said...

I was at the same game with Trebor, and I must say, a totally different stratosphere of entertainment. 90,000+ fans singing, cheering, and having a great time (with no fights, name calling or other crap that continually mars rider games - although the people kicking the metal post after good redskins plays was fantastic).
A whole day of football, from early morning BBQ's in the largest parking lot that I have ever seen to the pre-game warm-ups to the game to the post game (I am sure that it would have been more enthusiastic if the redskins had of won).

There is a part of me that wishes that I could have been at the rider game - as I am a rider fan, but the NFL and the show that they put on is priceless.