I've had some requests to write a post about the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Ironically, this request comes from people that I know who aren't from Saskatchewan. I like to think that they are Rider fans at heart too...although I think it has more to do with the curiosity about what makes Rider fans so enthusiastic. I had planned on writing something a couple weeks ago but their lacklustre play of late didn't exactly inspire me. Don't get me wrong. I am still firmly on the bandwagon but their performances in October were disappointing to say the least. Instead of finding ways to win, they were finding ways to lose. That is, until yesterday when they finally woke up and started playing good football again. Some may trivialize their win against Edmonton, one of worst teams in the league this year (it sure feels good to write that!) but Edmonton had improved recently and they were desperate to win the game. Edmonton had to win the game in order to make the playoffs during a year that they are hosting the Grey Cup. With a loss, their season would end so they were not taking the game lightly.
My husband and I have had season tickets for several years. I believe the first year we bought season tickets was 2004 and we've had the same seats since then. We have been sitting with essentially the same group of people as well. I remember the first couple years when attendance wasn't always the best especially during the dog days of summer. Things sure have changed! This year, the Riders sold out every single game, even last night's so-called meaningless game. It may have been meaningless to the Riders in the standings but they knew they needed to break their four game losing streak and enter the playoffs with some momentum.
Back to last night's game, we arrived early for once and I enjoyed seeing the team introductions. As expected, the Eskimos were booed as they came onto the field. Then, the Riders were introduced and the crowd gave a loud cheer. It was almost as if the fans were trying to tell the team that they were still on their side and hadn't given up on them. I had a good feeling going into the game last night especially after the national anthem. On big game days like Labour Day, the Snow Birds do a flyover during the national anthem. Of course, they weren't on the schedule for last night's game given the lack of importance in the whole scheme of things. However, we had an unofficial flyover that I will never forget. A few bars into the singing of the national anthem, a flock of geese did an unofficial flyover directly over Mosaic Stadium. It was amazing how the crowd reacted with loud cheering and it seemed to infuse a dose of energy into the Rider fans. It might seem ridiculous but a flock of Canadian geese in a v-formation truly seemed to uplift the entire stadium just prior to kick off. Just a note: It was the only flock of geese I saw fly over the stadium all evening.
It was an interesting game. The first quarter and a half was rather depressing...much like their recent games. A perfect example of finding a way to lose is taking a penalty when the other team is facing a 2nd and 26 situation. That was a head shaker. Just when the team had lulled the crowd into a stupor, they woke up and scored some quick points just before halftime. I'm not sure what happened, but suddenly the momentum had changed and the Riders didn't look back.
Final Score: Riders- 31 Eskimos - 23.
Now to the main point of this post! Darian Durant tossed the ball Andy Fantuz's way just enough to make him the league's leading receiving for the year...an awesome accomplishment for a Canadian receiver. Fantuz Flakes don't look so silly now, do they? In honour of this milestone, we enjoyed some this morning and I think that Connor's a fan...of the cereal and the player!
Other notable moments from last night's game:
- A "fan" ended up in the Rider's huddle in the second half. He was tackled by one security guard only to escape and jog around little more. Another security guard blindsided him and drew a loud cheer from the crowd.
- Another "fan" in our section was kicked out before the game started but not before he was put into a WWE style headlock.
- Apparently Zip-Loc bags are the new way to sneak booze into Taylor Field.
- Even though the game was sold out, several people didn't show up.
- I don't remember the half time show...maybe there wasn't one?
- We had extra leg room yesterday thanks to Curt and Kelly. While I appreciated the extra space, I missed you guys. (Awwww!)