CALGARY - I can honestly say I have never seen a city embrace an out of town team more than Calgary has to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. I knew coming here that it would be very green, but even I, a once watermelon helmet wearer, am impressed.
The Roughriders wrap up their last practice of the season Saturday. Herald photo by Mark Janzen.
The bars seem to have received some distinctly Saskatchewan facelifts and there isn’t a white horse in town. Seriously, if you didn’t know your Canadian geography, you would be hard-pressed to believe this city is in Alberta.
With that preamble, this is the online version of “Creed thoughts... just less bizarre and less thievery” from the Grey Cup in Calgary.
Saskatchewan Roughriders coach Ken Miller might have summed it up best when asked what he thought was the reason for the love the Riders are getting in Calgary.
“Were a likable bunch of guys, I guess,” Miller said with a hearty laugh. “I think some of our personality comes through. The team that we have truly is a group of men who get along with each other and work for each other. And I think it’s kind of a feeling that most people would like to have in their workplace, so I think there’s a feeling that they’d like to join in on that team spirit we have.”
I went to the Brewster pub and what I was surprising wasn’t the sea of green patrons, but rather the Green and White décor draped on every available wall and ceiling.
I guess this is an example of a pub playing the cards they’re dealt and playing them well. Calling your establishment “Rider Central?” Good financial decision.
And to think likely all of these bars and restaurants were covered in red and white less than a week ago.
Riderville was, as expected, INSANE. I didn’t manage to go in because the line was, uh, impressive, and the tickets have long been sold out.
A few ex-CFL players, including former Roughriders receiver Larry Thompson, tried to get in by jumping the line, but the “bouncer” was having none of it. Strict fire code and regulations he said.
At practice Saturday, McMahon Stadium staff was busy shoveling snow and clearing all the seats of the white stuff. When the Riders came out of their locker room, several hoots and hollers echoed from those workers in the stands. A miniscule sign of things to come on Sunday.
Saskatchewan defensive end Stevie Baggs was curiously wearing a red and white Montreal Expos hat during walkthroughs Saturday morning. When questioned about it, this is what he said:
“It’s really about the colours. My fraternity is red and white but I figured if I put Montreal on my head I could hopefully get in their heads,” Baggs said with a laugh. “It matched my outfit. I’m really not an Expos fan.”
Later, while being interviewed by a television station, Baggs reiterated that he has no hard feelings towards fellow defensive end John Chick for not getting the team’s defensive player of the year nomination. They hugged it out for the camera.
On the Montreal side of things, the Alouettes look very relaxed, composed and have that sense that “we’ve been here before.” Well, they have. But they’ve only won once.
Newly crowned CFL Most Outstanding Player Anthony Calvillo calmly took every question from a bevy of reporters and then casually walked off the field. He’s been here and done this.
Montreal running back Avon Cobourne said he’d rather have had it snow Sunday than Friday. That way he would likely get more touches, but then he remembered who his coach is.
“(The thought of 30 touches) gets you fired up,” Cobourne said. “But at the same time, (Marc Trestman) is methodical about throwing that ball. He’ll find a way. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or snowing, he’ll find a way to throw the ball.”
The party is starting amp up. So it’s time to head back out and see what’s happening downtown Regi…er Calgary.