Thursday 18 October 2012

Ivor Wynne Memories: 2004 Playoff Clincher

With it being the last season of Ivor Wynne Stadium, I said I am going to post some of my personal memories I have of the stadium. This edition will look at the Hamilton's playoff-clinching win over the Ottawa Renegades in 2004.

It's been longer than I anticipated bringing this back up, but with the recent news that football will be returning to Ottawa, I thought now was a good time to present the latest instalment of my year-long trip down Ivor Wynne memory lane.

Today's might be a bit obscure; this might not be a game that most people remember. It's one I don't have a lot of memories from, but I do remember the ending and I do remember how great it felt after that game.

Tiger-Cat fans are forced to put up with a lot of things, but the worst is the having to listen to people bring up the most shameful part of our collective past: the 1-17 2003 season. Nothing was worse than having to live through that terrible year. As every CFL fan knows, it took until the 14th game of the year, a home game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, for the Ti-Cats to finally get one in the win column. During that year, the team went into bankruptcy protection and was purchased in October by Bob Young.

So after a tumultuous 2003, not much was expected going into 2004. The team had a new head coach, McMaster's Greg Marshall, but they got out to a hot start, beginning the season 3-0. But it was up and down the rest of the year. But on October 15th, against the Ottawa Renegades, the Ti-Cats had a chance to get themselves into the playoffs.

So enough back story, here's what I remember from the game itself. It was a cold night and the game wasn't a particularly great one, but the way it ended was reminiscent of the 1998 East Final. The magnitude of it wasn't the same, but it may have meant nearly as much to a fan base that had to endure the one-win season. I don't remember the particulars of what happened during the game, but I know it was tied at 17 at the end of four quarters and the two teams had to go to overtime. If the Ti-Cats could pull it out, they would clinch a playoff spot. The Cats kicked a field goal on their first drive to take a 20-17 lead. The Renegades then got the ball and were driving when the Hamilton defense forced a fumble to seal the win. The crowd went nuts, and I mean NUTS, when the Ti-Cats scooped up the loose ball. It was as if a tremendous weight had been lifted. I can still see the Ti-Cats scooping up the fumble to seal the win. It's as fresh in my memory as if it happened yesterday.

The Ti-Cats would unfortunately go on to lose to the Argos in the first round of the playoffs, and the team would fail to make the playoffs for the next four seasons, but the memory of this specific game will stay with me for a very long time.

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