Monday, July 18, 2011


The Kids at Ivor Wynne Stadium

For those of you who recognize the name of the stadium, I am sure you can hear echoes of “Oskee Wee Wee” faintly in the distance. There were manly cheers for the Hamilton Tiger Cats last Saturday, as they demolished the winless Saskatchewan Roughriders. The final score was 33 to 3. The Ticats emerged from the game with their first win of the season, and Coach Marcel Bellefeuille was quite pleased.

“It isn’t so much the victory,” he told me after the game, “but the process. If we stick to our plan, and we execute well, but lose, I can be satisfied.” He was beaming from ear to ear as he chatted with the Ticat faithful on the field. I had the distinct feeling that he was savouring the victory, just a little.

Almost seventy players, coaches, parents, and football fans from the Belleville Minor Football League attended the game. Most went home happy with the result. The young fans were also thrilled when they were invited to go on the playing field after the game, and meet the players.

The entire Tiger Cat squad assembled in various locations on the field, and entertained the fans for at least half an hour. They signed autographs. They posed for photographs. They chatted with all of their fans.

Michael Patterson has just completed Grade Seven at Tyendinaga Public School. He is, however, a seasoned veteran on the football field. Next year he will play in his third and final season for the Belleville Club Bears. He told me he plays weak side linebacker, but also plays on the special teams. “I have blocked a few convert attempts this year,” he told me after the game. “I also really like the contact in the game, and the control you have on defence.”

He said that he kept a special eye on Dave Stala and Stevie Baggs of the Tiger Cats. When I mentioned to him that he was just about as tall as Arland Bruce III, he quipped, “Maybe I can take over for him!” He really enjoys watching Bruce, and was disappointed that Bruce did not play. Although Bruce has been under the microscope lately for a variety of reasons, he was most hospitable with the fans.

Patterson said he had a terrific day. He said that he is “first and foremost” a football guy, and that he plays two-handed touch at school.

The stadium in Hamilton is located in the heart of the city. I headed to the upper levels, and was impressed with the panorama. The view is dominated by the brown and olive drab buildings and roof tops, and the stacks at all of the steel works. Scattered amongst the houses of all of the steel workers are the domes and steeples of their places of worship. Brilliant gold, seasoned copper, almost all topped with crosses.

In the distance are the sails of boats in the Hamilton Harbour. The Skyway Bridge is barely visible above the East Side stands.

The attendance was announced at 22 245, somewhat disappointing. Many Tiger Cat fans missed a great show by the home team. Running back Marcus Thigpen had an outstanding game. He gave the Tiger Cats excellent field position in the first half, returning kicks for great yardage.

After the game he told me “It’s just a win. But a win is a win.” When asked if there had been extra pressure since the Ticats had been winless up to this point in the season, he added “In this business, there is always pressure. We compensated for the fact that two of our best players were not in the lineup. It shows the depth that we have.”

The Tabbies fly to British Columbia to take on the Lions this Friday night. The Riders have the dubious honour of heading to Montreal for their next game. From the frying pan into the fire!

All in all, a great excursion for the football players from the Quinte Region.

James Hurst
July 17, 2011

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