Monday, September 03, 2007
Canadian Classics on Labour Day
Summer loves are finished. Kids are getting ready for school. Hockey players are back at training camps. The highways are jammed. It’s Labour Day. In the evening.
That means that the Argos have once again punished the Tiger Cats. And the Eskimos took a drubbing in Calgary.
These traditional rivalries reach a frenzied state at this time of year. They meet on the first Monday in September, then again five days later in the opposition’s house. In most circumstances, the competition is intense; for these games, it often goes over the top.
Quite often, several of the players have played for both of the teams involved in the game. For a variety of reasons, players have moved to other teams-trades, finances, hostility-to name a few.
Early Monday morning, the Argos packed their bags and headed to Ivor Wynne Stadium in downtown Hamilton. The place is always jammed for the Labour Day game, and the weather usually co-operates. I went to that game two years ago, and it was truly spectacular. Mind you, the expectations are always high for the Tabbies, and they have not met those expectations recently.
The woeful Tiger Cats had but one win going into the game, and are now one and eight. The Argos have won three games, and have lost six. The teams are close, intensifying the rivalry between these Eastern rivals.
With the win, the Argos have now won ten in a row over the Tiger Cats. Ouch! The last time the Hamiltonians humbled the Hog Towners was on Labour Day, 2005.
Both teams have had the quarterback blues this year. The Argos lost Mike Bishop in July, when he broke his wrist late in a game against Calgary. He played on Labour Day against the Ticats, and found a groove as the game wore on.
The Tabbies continue to experiment with the pivot position. They started Timmy Chang, the former Hawaii star. Following the game, he blamed himself for the defeat. The outcome was also affected by inept Hamilton receivers, who dropped balls that were catchable. There were also a few referee decisions that went against Hamilton that may have affected the outcome of the game.
But the final score was 32-14, and that is not exactly close. Chang was 5 for fifteen, and threw a costly interception into the arms of Byron Parker. Jason Maas, the enigmatic QB who was supposed to lead the Tabbies to fame and fortune, didn’t fare much better. During a critical drive near the end of the game, he rolled out, faked a pass, and threw the ball into the ground. The Argos recovered the fumble. Richie Williams finished the game for the Ticats at the helm.
Prior to the game, Coach Charlie Taaffe warned the Hamilton players not to take any foolish penalties. They had stung themselves several times this year. He went on to tell them not to block anybody on kickoff returns, nor on punt returns. The team was often penalized in those situations. His comments were slightly tongue in cheek. But he did want to make the point to his players not to take unnecessary penalties, which often negate great returns.
Hamilton running back Jesse Lumsden did not dress for the game. He is the third leading rusher in the CFL with 627 yards. In a half time interview, he indicated that he would be ready for the game next Saturday in Toronto.
There will be a hoard of locals at the Rogers Centre in Toronto next Saturday. It will be the return game with the Ticats in Toronto. The annual Belleville Minor Football League trip will leave the Franklin Coach terminal on Bell Boulevard at 11:00am for the 3:00pm start. There will be a pickup in Trenton at the RONA Cashway store at 11:15am.
There are 20 seats left on the second bus. Tickets are $ 50 for the bus and game ticket. Call 613-399-2278 for information and tickets.
No matter who starts at QB for the Ticats, it will be an exciting game, always is between these two teams. Bishop has earned the job for the Argos. Future Hall of Famer Damon Allen will watch from the sidelines once again.
September 3, 2007