My Grey Cup experience
Some fun celebrations before the game, and only pain afterwards
The 13th Man
For the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Grey Cup appearances are becoming almost routine. The team has made three trips to the big game in the last four years.
Trips to the Grey Cup have become a recurring feat for me as well. This year, when the Riders battled the Montreal Alouettes at the 98th Grey Cup in Edmonton, I made my second consecutive trip to the Grey Cup.
With a wide range of fans, some exceptional entertainment and stellar seats, it was another memorable weekend.
I departed for the Grey Cup early Friday morning – if my Spanish teacher is reading this, though, please note that I was actually bed-ridden with a serious disease.
As is the case with any long drive, my family and I were exhausted upon the conclusion. We arrived at my Grandma’s house in Edmonton around 6 p.m. their time. It was much more relaxing not having to stay in a hotel.
I’ll admit it, the first night of Grey Cup festivities was a bit of a disappointment. All of the main street attractions were closed by the time we got downtown. So, our only choice was to line up to go to one the different CFL fan parties. Seeing as it was the only free option, we decided to go to “Spirit of Edmonton”: The Edmonton Eskimos fan party. Big mistake. After at least an hour wait, we got into the pre-party room. Sounds promising, but it would have taken another hour or so to get into the actual party. We decided to call it a night.
On Saturday, we didn’t make the same mistake. We headed downtown early in the afternoon and checked out some of the street festivities. For the most part, there was nothing exceptional to see. Most of the booths were either selling food or providing cheap entertainment. There was a zipline, but we didn’t go on it. I guess if you’re a fan of filling out CFL sponsor surveys it was fun. Quickly after we arrived downtown, we lined up for an hour and a half at Riderville: The Roughriders fan party and one of the most popular events. Once we got in, we were able to mingle with plenty of diehard Rider fans and listen to cover band Wonderland.
As pre-game festivities go, hanging out in Riderville was the most fun. With thousands of fans packed in cheering for the Riders, it really got you into the mood for the game. Of course, many consumed plenty of beer: a fact evident by the fact that there was a tower of empty beer cans in Riderville that ascended to the roof. Also, the drunker fans (presumably) braved the dance floor.
Then came game day, the whole reason we and countless other fans of the Green and White travelled to Edmonton in the first place. After arriving at the Commonwealth Stadium early, only to find out the pre-game tailgate party cost $60 (the same event at Calgary’s Grey Cup last year was free), my dad and I headed into the stadium a good hour before the game started.
Last year, we had fairly good tickets around the 35-yard-line. This year, we were able to snag tickets around the 45 to 50-yard-line, only three rows up. It was an amazing view. As an added bonus, we got to sit by some spirited Roughrider fans. One woman right below us took off her shirt to reveal a Rider bikini when Saskatchewan was doing well. Just saying.
For my dad and I, who own season tickets in Regina and sit by mostly old bums, this was a welcome change. Getting a chance to see a quality stadium like Commonwealth was also enjoyable.
Despite the slow start to the game, we and the Rider fans around us remained confident. I’m not sure how it sounded on TV, but the estimated 45,000 Saskatchewan fans crammed into the stadium made lots of noise whenever Montreal took the field. Sitting behind the Alouette bench, we all made sure to heckle them relentlessly, especially Montreal kicker Damon Duval, who played another terrible game.
Unfortunately, all of the cheering in the world couldn’t lead the Green and White to victory. As Rider fans at the game, we couldn’t have asked for a better scenario: Darian Durant getting the chance to lead Saskatchewan on a game-winning drive. Unfortunately, no magic transpired. Like last year, a green mob trudged out of the stadium while 10 Montreal fans stayed behind to celebrate.
All in all, Edmonton hosted a stellar Grey Cup party. There was decent entertainment and accommodations. Plenty of fans from different teams conglomerated at the Grey Cup, showing again why the CFL is such an amazing league. For the most part, Eskimo fans supported the Riders and wished us good luck. Of course, there were some fans too bitter to do so, some who even came to the game just to boo the Riders. If the Grey Cup ever comes to Regina again, let’s show the league how it’s done, Rider fans, and fully support the team from the west.
As for the Grey Cup loss, the second in a row for Saskatchewan, there are really a couple of ways to look at it. Of course, you could view it as a complete failure. Rider fans will probably call the Green and White’s Grey Cup loss a disappointment to some extent. However, even with the loss, I think it’s still a pretty amazing thing to be a Rider fan. For two years in a row, we’ve filled up the Grey Cup with so many Rider fans it has looked like a home game.
Ask a fan of any other team and they’ll likely tell you that Rider fans epitomize what’s so great about this game: passionate fans. That’s something to celebrate even when enduring the cruel pain of defeat. It’s a fact that can help us fans rise above tough times.
And besides, there’s always next year.