Hamilton Tiger-Cats finally earn trip to Grey Cup after years in CFL wilderness
The big men sat like happy boulders in their stalls, cutting off tape and laughing as the sweat dried, giants who couldn’t feel the pain. Left guard Peter Dyakowski said, “I hate those guys who have three Grey Cup rings,” and right guard Tim O’Neill said, “there’s always somebody on every team you’re rooting for,” and Dyakowski said with a grin, “aside from the East final year in Winnipeg [in 2011], we were always out of it early enough that the bitterness would have faded away.” They talked about how there are guys in this league who have three rings, five rings, even more, and Hamilton Tiger-Cats centre Marwan Hage, the fulcrum of this franchise for a decade, grinned sweetly.
“And I hate on every one of them,” he said.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are headed to the Grey Cup for the first time since 1999, back when Ronnie Lancaster was still alive, a lifetime in an eight-team league, an ocean. They did it by crushing the defending Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts and their near-perfect quarterback in a half for the ages, a half they had been waiting for forever. Hage arrived in 2004, the same year Bob Young rescued the team from a fiscal sinkhole, and lived through the bad years. 4-14, 5-13, 3-15, 3-15 again. A joke, year after year. When they got talent, they found ways to screw it up. Hage was an all-star. He could have left.
“I used to drive to Montreal after each season, within two or three days, and you reflect,” said Hage, after Hamilton’s 36-24 victory over Toronto at the Rogers Centre. “Five hours on the road, and I’d think, ‘Man, am I doing the right thing here?’ Because I’d see my friends leave and go to other teams and win. And win. I can name so many guys who went to six different teams and four championships and …
“But to me, I wouldn’t trade it. I love the city of Hamilton. Hamilton’s been great to me, from Day 1, even in the bad times.”
There will be people who will half-jokingly blame this victory on Toronto mayor and global punchline Rob Ford, who arrived at halftime in his No. 12 MAYOR FORD Argos jersey. He sat in the lower bowl and posed for pictures, signed autographs, and brandished a tinfoil Grey Cup over his head, which probably interfered with police radio frequencies. One woman wearing black and gold held up a sign that said “Our mayor is better than your mayor;” one pro-Argos sign in the upper deck read “We have more than enough Tiger-Cats to eat at home.” The mayor caused a scene, as he tends to do these days. (Source: National Post)