All this talk and all
these words written about a Calgary
horse that runs along the sideline every time they score a touchdown! Even when
they did score, the horse had been put out to pasture.
At that stage of the
game, the fat lady had sung, folded up her musical score, and was in the
parking lot. The one hundredth Grey Cup game was no contest.
Argonauts defeated the Calgary
Stampeders in all aspects of the game. The final score was 35-22 in favour of
the Argos. From
the opening kickoff, the outcome was never in doubt.
Many observers sensed
a significant difference in the intensity on the benches. Normally, Coach
Hufnagel will muster up a mean emotional tirade or two. But he was subdued,
quietly witnessing the game on the Calgary
sidelines. On the opposite side of the field, Coach Milanovich was his normal,
Hufnagel and Milanovich-Pre Game.
co-ordinator, Chris Jones, supplied enough energy for both of them. Jones, as
you may recall, came over to the Argos
from the Stamps at the beginning of the season. The Argos were nicked five grand for tampering in
this case. In the second quarter, Jones bounded from the sidelines on to the
field as his defensive crew stifled a Calgary
attack which resulted in a turnover on downs.
terribly kaleidoscopic in perspective, here are a few other observations and
The city truly took
to the whole celebration of the 100th Grey Cup. From the shores of Lake Ontario
north to the 401, the place was a party. There was a magical parade before the
game, led by Russ Jackson and Doug Flutie. If you happened to be in the right
place at the right time, you were issued yellow gloves and then you got to carry the Grey Cup! Very
The Gifkins Family-All the way from Trenton!
Front Street was
closed from University to the Rogers
Centre. A stage was set up, and fine bands played all day until the game began.
In the bowels of the Convention Centre, down several trips down an escalator,
fans gathered in expensive lounges to prepare for the game. Burton Cummings belted out tunes that the
fans wanted to hear. (Critics felt that he screwed up the National Anthem. I
disagree. The noise was so deafening at the beginning of the game that old Burt
could not hear the good Canadians singing along with him, at a slightly faster
pace. He just couldn’t keep up!)
Canadian Rock Legend Burton Cummings
Joanne Hurst and Mike "Pinball" Clemons
Sitting quietly on
the side of the room was a group in front of a banner entitled “Legends”. I
introduce myself to Whit Tucker. He told me he was lucky to have played for the
Riders when Ron Lancaster and Russ Jackson were at the helm. He’s a Hall of
Fame member who caught two touchdown passes in the 1966 Grey Cup game. Chuck
Ealey led the Hamilton
Tiger Cats to a Grey Cup victory in 1972.
Chuck Ealey-Grey Cup Winner 1972
The Stamps ran Jon
Cornish at the holes that were often wide open during the season. Not to be
last Sunday. Quarterback Kevin Glenn was rushed the entire day, threw some bad
passes, didn’t get the job done. Chad
Kakkert got he job done for the Argos,
and was the game’s most outstanding player. Ricky Ray more than proved his
worth for the Double Blue.
the Stamps were the more penalized team in the game. The Argos were the most penalized team in the
league, all season. They wore halos on Sunday. On one play, the Stamps crowded
the Argo punt returner, then shoved him out of bounds at the end on the play.
That cost them thirty yards, way too dumb.
From Seat # 92-Justin Bieber at Half Time!
Add Justin Bieber,
Gordon Lightfoot, Kathleen Edwards, April Wine, Matthew Good, Carly Rae Jepsen,
and Johnny Reid to the mix. A fine Canadian party!
The Argo brass hopes
to carry the momentum into the 2013 season. That would be a great bonus to the
league as well. And with the Ottawa
franchise ready to take flight, there could be another Eastern franchise on the
With Alex Williams-Row 120-Fourth Quarter!
For all concerned, a
job very well done.
John Hufnagel and Scott Milanovich
From coast to coast
this coming weekend, Canadians will celebrate a great tradition for the 100th
time, the awarding of the Grey Cup. The event is being celebrated all week long
in Toronto, as
a culmination of the year-long festivities. The Cup visited Belleville in late October. There are
Canadian Football League stamps and CFL loonies in your pockets.
On Wednesday morning,
the coaches from the opposing teams sat side by side answering questions from
the media about all aspects of the game. John Hufnagel is also the General
Manager of the Calgary
Stampeders. Scott Milanovich is the rookie coach of the Argonauts.
that he was not a “raw raw” kind of coach. He said that he might take fifteen
minutes in the morning on game day to outline their plans. At half time, he
usually points out that to win games the team must “play great football for
thirty more minutes”.
that there were several major changes that took place in personnel over the
year, starting with a new quarterback at the helm. “We knew there would be
adjustments, but guys bought into the plan from the very beginning”.
his concerns about the Argo offence: “Chad Owens is the player that he
is”. Owens tore up the league on offence, as well as in his position as kick
returner. The Calgary coach laughed when asked
about seeing Ricky Ray traded to the Argos
before the season began. “I had seen enough of him wearing the green and gold
uniform (of the Edmonton
Eskimos). I was pleased to see the announcement of his trade when it took
Both Hufnagel and
Milanovich starred as college quarterbacks in the United States. Both had brief
careers in the NFL before moving north to the CFL. Milanovich joked that he was
released by the Tampa
Bay Buccaneers one day
before his contract was to be guaranteed! Hufnagel answered a question by
stating that it was not surprising that quarterbacks become coaches. “But,” he
cautioned, “we must never neglect the running game”.
Hufnagel has Jon
Cornish in his backfield, to his good fortune. Cornish is a native of New
Westminster, British Columbia, and attended university in Kansas. He led the league in rushing, and is
the West’s nominee as the top Canadian player in the CFL.
At the Calgary team luncheon, I
had a chance to chat with Marquay McDaniel. He is in his fourth year in the CFL
“Right now,” he told me, “I am soaking in all of the Grey Cup festivities. As
the week goes on, we will concentrate on the game. Two of my best friends in
the game are Arlin Bruce III and Maurice Mann. Now Arlin got his ring last
year, and “Mo” Mann wants one this year. But he plays for the Argos! So we will see who gets the ring!”
McDaniel had an outstanding game in the West final, pulling in three passes for
104 yards, and a touchdown.
Always a great game!
And Justin Bieber at half time! Don’t touch that dial, Marsha!
James Hurst and John Miller
When I was asked by
John’s family to speak today, I accepted the honour, with a good deal of
trepidation. I knew I wanted to represent them well, but I also knew I had a
daunting task ahead of me. My personal relationship goes back long before
either of us was born.
John’s mother and
father, Court and Theda, played serious bridge with my parents, Bill and
Louise, for years before we ever saw the light of day. There was also the odd
afternoon or evening when Bill and Court, Austin Walters, Harry Burns, Harry
Trepanier, Russell Bateman and a host of their cronies shuffled the decks at
the Belleville Club.
Along came the
children. For the Millers; Peter and Bob, Pat, John and Janet. For the other
families, similar broods. We played together, ate together, grew together.
Mostly in the East Hill.
That was our stomping
grounds. We ran the streets, sometimes after dark. We hid when the fire trucks
came to extinguish the fires we had started by torching the piles of leaves on Queen Street. We
ducked when we heard the bullets ricochet off the bricks at Sandy Sandercock’s
garage, courtesy of the ingenuity of Ray Finkle. We skated through the winter
at the tennis club, and rode our bikes forever. We drove Wally Marner and Bud
Haines crazy at their corner stores.
The Millers spent a
lot of the summer at Oak
Lake. It was a great
place to visit. John and Babe helped me conquer my fear of frogs and snakes. I
marvelled at his skill in all kinds of boats. His sea fleet was just plain
dangerous. The ice cream at Sarles’ Beach was delicious.
Time flew, and we
were all at B. C. I., in various stages. John and I had to follow in the
footsteps of older brothers and sisters. The boys had cut more than a few
swaths. The elderly female teachers, Miss Dwyer included, watched us carefully.
Johnny tore up the
football field with his prolific skill. He would crash the line with the
football tucked under his arm, busting tackles along the way. He earned the
nickname “Grinder” at that time. I was always amazed at his work on the high bar.
Round and round he would go, doing one giant swing after another. I needed a
chair to reach the bar, and Red Townsend’s size ten shoe to help me along. John
could run like the wind, and won several awards on the track.
We hung out quite
often at dances. Teen town, the Moose Lodge on Victoria Avenue, Queen Elizabeth
School. The truth of the
matter was that we used every opportunity we could find to do some serious
snuggling with the ladies. Another great location was Nancy Vantassel’s
basement, listening to the tunes from the late 50s and early 60s, with suitable
Another quick turn
and we were both teachers, with some difficulty. John attended Peterborough Teachers’ College the year after I did.
He was lucky enough to have a car. He spent the months from January to May on
the streets of Peterborough,
driving that thing in reverse. The transmission was shot. There were no forward
gears. The principal of the school, Bill McLure, told us both separately, that
he was glad to be rid of us at the end of the year.
John and I taught
together at Sir John A. Macdonald School
in the early Seventies. That was the only year we worked together. Rumour had
it that the authorities decided we were better off in different locales.
Johnny loved his
vehicles, even the ones that gave him grief. One bitterly cold morning he had
trouble opening his car door at Bleecker
Avenue. He reefed on it, and it came off the
hinges. He left it on the lawn, and proceeded to class at Queen Victoria
He loved to fly, and
moved on from glider planes to get his pilot licence at the Belleville Air
He had tours of duty
at Susanna Moodie
School, in Centre Hastings,
and finally at Harry
School. He was the
principal most of the time, and served the communities well. In fact, he was
revered as a principal. He cared deeply about the children, all the children
under his care.
Johnny had gifts,
many difficult to explain. He was a brilliant wood crafter. He tackled entire
houses on several occasions, turning out silk purses from sow’s ears. Albert
Street, William Street, the farm house on the hill west of Tweed.
And finally his cozy retreat on George
Street, a real masterpiece.
Music was of utmost
importance to John Miller. He loved the classics, and much more. We experienced
Leon Redbone at one of those Toronto
festivals, and loved his stuff. Emmy Lou Harris was a favourite, as was Joe
Cocker. John had a strong voice, and we sang in church choirs in our youth. He
struggled at the piano, but learned a bar or two of “Fur Elise”. Lynn was responsible for
She taught piano at
the school in Madoc. John was a confirmed bachelor at the time, perhaps
thirty-five. By the time he was forty, he was the father of five children.
Allison, Vickie, and Wendy were part of the family when he and Lynn were wed.
Charlotte and Andrew followed along shortly thereafter.
crashed that fateful evening when Lynn was
killed at Moira Lake. We rallied around him, but it was
plain to see that he was a different person. He moved to George Street, and planned to move on
with the tides.
Such was not to be.
Following his diagnosis, he fought to live, and he wanted to do so---for his
kids, for his friends, for himself.
He was a prince of a
guy. Farewell, my friend.
Most of the teams in the National Football League have
reached the halfway point in the season. Meanwhile, there are only three games
left to decide the champions in the Canadian Football League. On Sunday, the Toronto
Argonauts disposed of the Edmonton Eskimos to earn a berth in the Eastern Final against the
Montreal Alouettes. The Saskatchewan Roughriders knocked off the Calgary
Stampeders to play in the Western Final next week against the British Columbia
Lions. Those will be good games, culminating in the Grey Cup Game in Toronto on
The NFL teams will be heading into the home stretch at that
time. Last Sunday we boarded a bus here in Fort Myers to watch the Dolphins and
The Tennessee Titans in Miami. It was a deal that only a serious euchre player
would have passed on. Smooth bus ride for a couple of hours to Sun Life Field;
tailgate party with burgers, dogs, chips, and beverages; great seats in eighty
degree sunshine with a cool breeze; a festive football atmosphere, in “T”
There was some discussion prior to the game that the
Dolphins should be wary of the struggling Titans. I strolled all the way around
the stadium at the upper level, taking in the sights, soaking up the
atmosphere. The tailgaters are serious individuals, covering acres of the
parking lot with all of their paraphernalia. On the other side of the stadium
is a perfect view of the city of Miami, stretching miles up and down the coast.
Always carry your age identification if you are buying alcoholic (Jamaican
rum)or pseudo-alcoholic (American beer) beverages. A person in our party was
carded, even though she is 58. I watched as another man was carded, and it was
his birthday. Almost forty staff members at the bar joined in to sing him happy
In a pre-game interview, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin
cautioned that the Titans might be tough because they were starting their young
quarterback Jake Locker, who was returning after missing five games with a dislocated
shoulder. Locker was as sharp as he needed to be throughout the game,
orchestrating a 37-3 drubbing of the Dolphins. Because of Locker's play, veteran Matt Hasselbeck remained on the sidelines most of the game.
For the most part, it was a case of turnovers by the
Dolphins, squandered opportunities, unnecessary penalties, and some
questionable play calling. On two occasions, the Dolphins elected to pass in a
third and one situation. Both of those passes were intercepted, in their own
It was a difficult time for the Dolphins’rookie quarterback
Ryan Tannehill. He had gone six weeks without throwing an interception. Three
different cornerbacks picked off his attempts. Reggie Bush coughed up a fumble
in the first half, ending up in the dog house. He was not handed the ball the
rest of the game. He is somewhat prone to fumbles; nonetheless, to keep him on
the bench is questionable. You cannot win if you do not use your best players.
Chris Johnson ran brilliantly throughout the day for the
Titans. He knifed his way through gaping holes at the line, finishing with 126
yards on 23 carries. It was the first time in 23 games that the Miami defence
had given up 100 yards to a running back.
Tannehill summed it up at the end of the game: “I’m
embarrassed by the way we played”.
Cameron Wake came to the Dolphins a couple of years ago from the B. C.
Lions and has established himself as a premier rusher in the league. He was also
humbled after the game. “There’s no explanation, no excuse.”
Marcus Thigpen won the job as the kickoff and punt returner
for the Dolphins this year, after stellar work as a Hamilton Tiger Cat. Most
Kickoffs from the Titans went through the end zone. The Titans contained
Thigpen on his other run back attempts.
Truly a spectacular afternoon, from the Titans’ standpoint.
The Doplhins will reassess the situation, as they now stand with four wins and
five losses. Plenty of time to get back on track.