Wednesday 31 October 2012

Last Game at Ivor Wynne Stadium

I wanted to take my time with this one, which is why it wasn't posted immediately following the game. When dealing with something as iconic as Ivor Wynne Stadium, I believe timeliness isn't the most important factor.


That is the only word I can use to describe everything about the final game at Ivor Wynne Stadium. From walking to a game there for the final time to getting in to the game itself and to the entire ceremony that following the game, everything about the final experience at the greatest stadium in the CFL was done pitch perfect. Terrible weather notwithstanding, the final game ever at Ivor Wynne Stadium could not have gone any better.

It was a weird feeling taking that final walk from my uncle and aunt's house on Gage Ave. to the stadium. While it won't be the last time I take that walk – they aren't moving and neither is the stadium – it will be the last time I take it to Ivor Wynne Stadium. And in two years, who knows what will still be there.

Once at the stadium, the team did everything right. As soon as you walked in you were handed a commemorative ticket and a lanyard. As a season seat holder, I already had a similar ticket, but to give one out to ever fan that stepped through the gates was a nice touch.

Then just prior to kickoff, the all-time team was announced in a beautiful ceremony. While I didn't agree with all the selections, the ones I wouldn't have chosen (and didn't when I voted) are not so egregious that they need to be mentioned. The greatest players in Tiger-Cat history formed a circle at midfield and the current players entered as a team and huddled inside the circle. It felt like a passing of the torch and showed the respect the old guard has from the new. It was a great way to kick off the on-field festivities.

Then there was the game itself, a 28-18 whitewashing of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The final score was a lot closer than the game actually was; the lead was never in doubt after about midway through the second quarter. Winnipeg just didn't have it and the Ti-Cats, for the most part, just did. It was nice to go home happy one final time from Ivor Wynne Stadium. Leaving on a losing note wouldn't have soured the event entirely, but it would have tainted it.

At halftime, perhaps the most revered team in Tiger-Cat history was honoured when the team brought out members of the 1972 Grey Cup winning Tiger-Cats. Both Angelo Mosca and Garney Henley spoke and did so to a huge round of applause. That team now goes down in history as the only Tiger-Cat squad to win a Grey Cup at Ivor Wynne Stadium. Again, a great touch and an appropriate final halftime at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Following the game, an elaborate closing ceremonies took place, with Bob Young, Paul Osbaldiston, Bob Bratina and one of Ivor Wynne's sons speaking to the crowd. All four did an amazing job getting across their feelings for the old stadium. You could see in Ozzy's face that he was near tears talking about what the stadium, and especially the fans, meant to him.

But the highlight of the after event was a video that was narrated by Hamilton's own Stephen Brunt. It was as beautiful as it was poignant. And that video is what I will leave you with as I say my final goodbye to Ivor Wynne Stadium.

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