John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
As a football writer for Toronto’s Tip Of The Tower one of my duties is to write about the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. This seems pretty straight forward, as the Toronto Argonauts are the only real football team in the city… but things are far more complicated than they seem. Before I delve into my first Argonauts game post I want to give readers my brief personal history with the CFL. My father grew up on Gage Avenue. To many this is just another street, but Gage Avenue happens to be just two blocks east of where a big pile of scrap metal and dirt currently sits. So what’s so special about this scrap metal and dirt you might ask? That scrap metal was once Ivor Wynne Stadium and will soon be Tim Horton’s Field, home of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. My father, therefore, had season tickets all through his childhood and is a die-hard Hamilton Tiger-Cats fan. So one can guess the jersey my father had me sporting as a newborn baby, you guessed it, a TiCats one.
After attending games with my dad from the time I was a toddler until the age of 6, I was destined to be a lifelong Tiger-Cats fan. As a young boy, I was therefore interested in playing football myself, and played quarterback for my house league team. The Toronto Argonauts were (and still are) the Tiger-Cats bitter rival. For anyone unfamiliar with this rivalry it is the equivalent of the Yankees and Mets subway series in New York City. Two geographically close teams whose fans travel back and forth from each other’s stadiums to watch their teams go at it.
The Argonauts had just signed a 5 ft 10 CFL All-Star quarterback by the name of Doug Flutie. At this time the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were the worst team in the CFL and my young blood was growing bored of cheering for a losing product. This is when the worst nightmare happened for my father. While at the sporting goods store shopping for some Tiger-Cats gear for the Labour Day Classic at Ivor Wynne Stadium (the big rivalry game of the year between the Argos and TiCats) my father stumbled upon his son holding a #2 Doug Flutie Argonauts jersey. Halfheartedly, he purchased the jersey for me and we drove home, not saying a word to each other on the ride. To this day I wonder how close he came to disowning me right there and then. Thankfully for my father, Doug only spent two seasons with the Argonauts before returning to the NFL to play for the Buffalo Bills (my fathers NFL team). Doug’s younger brother Darren, then a wide receiver in Edmonton, signed with the Tiger-Cats, easily converting me back to the black and gold.
Since the day that Darren Flutie and then quarterback Danny McManus signed with Hamilton in 1998 I have been a devoted Hamilton Tiger-Cats fan, hating the Toronto Argonauts like every good Tiger-Cats fan should. My 6-year old rebellion has not been spoken of until this article, and I consider those two seasons as cheering for the player Doug Flutie, and NOT the team the Toronto Argonauts. For any wrestling fans out there, the 1996 and 1997 seasons were the equivalent of a “heel turn” for me. But I’m cured, and… ARGOS SUCK (I’m sorry readers, I had to get that off my chest)!
Which brings us to today, after 16 consecutive years of rooting for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and 6 solid years before that, I can confidently say that I am just about as big of a Tiger-Cats fan as they come, other than of course the Box J Boys (no one in Hamilton really compares to their level of enthusiasm for the TiCats). So here I am, writing articles about the Toronto Argonauts from a very biased opposing perspective. But maybe this can be a fun read for you Argonauts faithful, it’s not every day you get the perspective on your team from a bitter rival. Grantland’s Bill Simmons, a devoted Boston Celtics fan, writes about the Los Angeles Lakers, so why can’t I write about the Argonauts?
So that’s my story. Now you’ll understand why a Toronto sports network may include some Hamilton information as well. Be sure to look for my pre-game posts for both Hamilton vs. Winnipeg and Calgary vs. Toronto later in the week.
OSKEE WEE WEE!