Sunday evening in Toronto, teams representing Calgary and Ottawa will do battle to decide who wins the Grey Cup this year. It’s the championship of three down football in Canada, and it used to be a much bigger deal.
When I was a lad, watching dinosaurs stroll past my window, the big game was played on a Saturday, and it was truly a celebration of East vs.West. In 1948, when I was barely alive, it was these same two cities competing for the Cup, and the folks from Alberta turned it into much more than a football game.
They loaded up a train with horses and chuckwagons, and the ‘Grand National Drunk’ was born. Someone rode a horse into the lobby of the Royal York hotel, and another strange tradition began. The only other time the Stampeders met the eastern Riders in a Grey Cup was in 1968, and it was still a memorable east-west celebration.
But in 2016, there just seems to be too many other ‘distractions’ in the place that used to be known as Toronto the Good. CFL football in Toronto now shares a stadium with major league soccer, and who would have ever thought that soccer would be the winner when it comes to ticket sales.
In a few more years, soccer will probably outdraw three down football on TV as well. Thank goodness for Ottawa being in the Grey Cup this year. Had they lost to Edmonton in the snow last Sunday, there would almost certainly have been empty seats as two Alberta teams in the championship at BMO Field would be a very tough sell.
What happened to the magic? Indeed, the magic that was that first Grey Cup party 68 years ago thanks to Calgary, the craziness nine years later that included Bibbles Bobbles being tripped by a fan at Varsity Stadium, and the ‘hidden’ Grey Cup that was the Fog Bowl of 1962 that took two days to declare a winner, those are moments we must cherish and cling to in our memory bank.
Chances are we won’t see moments like that again in a world of smart phones, and too many distractions.
I’m Roger Currie