101st Grey Cup and The Green Mile

greycup-21Ever since I moved to Regina, Saskatchewan I have heard many making reference of Regina’s football fan base to that of the Green Bay Packers. The Regina Roughriders has the largest fan base in the Canadian Football league and apparently is ranked #2 for the most merchandise sold by a professional sports team in Canada behind the Montreal Canadiens. It was no surprise then that the city of Regina would go bezerk when the CFL Grey Cup, Canada’s version of the NFL Super Bowl came to town in the frosty evening of November, 2013.

Prior to this the Riders had only won the Grey Cup twice. The first in 1989 and the second in 2007. With the pressure of making it to the playoffs with the Grey Cup being hosted in their city, the Riders launched themselves to an 8 – 1 start to the 2013 season and eventually made it to the playoffs.

After battling through the semi-final attacks of Lulay and the BC Lions and thwarting the stampede of Cornish and his Stampeders, the Saskatchewan Roughriders made their way back home to wage their final battle for the Grey Cup on their own turf.

On the balmy evening of November 24th, 2013 , Mosaic stadium transformed into a green colosseum for one last time as the Riders took on the Hamilton Tiger Cats. The fact that this was the final showdown of the season was one thing but what added more fuel to the excitement was the head coach of the Tiger Cats, Kent Austin. Not only was he a former Roughrider he was the Rider’s Quaterback in 1989 and their head coach in 2007. Kent was a major part of the Riders past success and now he came to their house to take one away from the Riders.

Then it was game time. In short the Roughriders made the Tiger Cats look like kittens on the field and played with them all night long. Riders Quarterback, Darian Durant strung out 17 passes like balls of yarn for the Ti-Cats defence, putting up 245 yards with 3 touchdowns. While Durant played in the air, Riders Running Back, Kory Sheets played cat-and-mouse on the ground collecting 197 yards and a pair of touch downs.

The Tiger Cats fell and unlike all cats they didn’t land on their feet. A whopping 23 – 45 loss to the Roughriders sent them back to Hamilton with their tails tucked well between their legs. For lack of a more descriptive analogy, these cats got wet!

On the other hand this lit the fuse for the grand spectacle that was on my bucket list of experiences to witness, which was the Green Mile. Living in Regina for over two years now I’ve always heard tales of the mass exodus that converged on Albert street following the Rider’s 2007 Grey Cup win. Cops closing the roads down, people dancing on car tops and hanging from street lights gave Albert street this famous nickname.

GreenMile-5This time around with a blowout win at home the Green Mile flooded as thousands of fans drained from the stadium and surrounding bars to celebrate. All coated in green jerseys or makeshift outfits, people you never knew instantly became your friends.

High fives and “We won the Cup!” chants were the order of the night along with the occasional side of “H-E-N-R-Y, here kitty kitty”.

Then there were fireworks and more and more people, literally as far as the eye could see. So much so that people were actually crowd surfing on this sea of green.  Then all of a sudden this guy just magically appeared hanging from the stop sign about 20 feet above the street which put the icing on the cake for me.

I feel privileged to say that not only have I been to a Grey Cup game but I have been to ‘the Grey Cup game’, the one that will be forever remembered and inscribed in the walls of the foundation of this city for many years to come.

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