Tiger-Cats vs. Argonauts
Labour Day is the apex of the rivalry. Nothing gets the blood boiling more than when the Argos come to "the home of labour" on the holiday created for the working class. Labour Day is the game that means the most to Tiger-Cat fans. Win this game, and the season is a success; lose and... well... that's just not an option.
I do believe that the rivalry is taken more seriously in Hamilton than it is in Toronto, at least on the surface. But with the story I am about to tell you, you'll see that Argo fans hate the Ti-Cats just as much as Ti-Cat fans hate the Argos.
I attended a game in 2007 in Toronto. The Argos were playing the Roughriders. I was fortunate enough, through some connections, to be able to go on the field for a promotion that the Argos were running. Just prior to competing, the Argos in-game MC handed me a live mic – big mistake. After getting the pleasantries out of the way ("What's your name?", "Think you'll win?", etc.) I was asked if I had anything else I'd like to say. This was my moment. The chance of a lifetime. I held the crowd in the palm of my hand and in front of 35,000+ Argo fans I yelled into the mic, "GO TI-CATS!" In that one moment the entire crowd booed me, and I do mean booed me. I stood there, basking in my adulation, content with having set out to do what I wanted. Suffice to say, Argo fans do not take too kindly to a Ti-Cat fan being handed a mic at the 40-yard line of the
Players switching teams has an effect on the rivalry as well. Many players have seen both sides of this feud. Just last season, Arland Bruce went from hated to beloved when he was traded from the Argos to the Ti-Cats in July. Nothing gave me more pleasure last season than sporting that crisp, new Arland Bruce Ti-Cats jersey when I went to Toronto for a game.
Just as many players have gone the other way. When they come back to Ivor Wynne they are treated as traitors. Guys like Mike O'Shea and Adriano Belli are rarely welcomed back when they grace the field in Hamilton. I still hate both those guys for being turncoats.
Some players see both sides and yet are still welcomed back with open arms. Archie Amerson, Mike Morreale and Joe Montford all went from the Ti-Cats to the Argos and yet were greeted as heroes upon their return to Steeltown. Not being an Argo fan, I can't say if the feeling is mutual. Of course, once you go Black & Gold you never go back into the Double Blue fold.
With there recently being some chatter about a joint stadium, this rivalry could be taken to a whole other level. I still don't entirely like the idea of sharing a stadium with our most hated rivals, but the clashes between the Tabbies and Boatmen could take on an added ferocity should both teams be housed in the same stadium.
I can't completely quantify why the rivalry still resonates after all these years, but if I had to guess I'd simply say it's a clash of cultures. The almost visceral hatred that Tiger-Cat fans have for the Argonauts is unmatched. I started this article with the four "vs." which I think encapsulate everything that the Hamilton-Toronto rivalry is about. It's a rivalry that has lasted for generations, and one that I hope continues well after I am gone. But in the end we all know...