Let me back up a bit. My friend, the incomparable Adrian Wortley (who, by the way, has been mentioned so often in Karla's blog posts that I'm beginning to wonder if something's going on, except for the fact that they're separated by 2400 kilometers) has, on a couple of occasions in the past, suggested taking our girls to watch a U of M Bisons game. Unfortunately, it has never worked out, but it was always something that I thought would be a lot of fun and easy on the wallet too.
A few weeks ago I saw an ad for the 99th Grey Cup - it's being played here in B.C. tomorrow of course. Included in the Grey Cup weekend events is the Canadian University football championship game, the Vanier Cup, at BC Place, which just happens to have been given a new retractable roof. I've never been inside BC Place before; the BC Lions game I went to last year was at Empire Field because the BC Place roof was under construction. The ad said tickets for the Vanier cup were on sale at Safeway for $17 each. I figured I'd take Ellie, the only girl of mine that has shown one iota of interest in football. Even if we only stayed for a couple of quarters, it was a chance to do something one-on-one with Ellie and a chance to watch football at BC Place. A championship game to boot. So I bought tickets about three weeks ago, with no idea who would be playing.
Considering U of M wasn't even in the playoffs this year and UBC got knocked out of the running, I wasn't very optimistic about the game. I actually didn't even know who was in the game until checking online a few days before the game. Laval versus McMaster. Huh. Where's Laval? Where's McMaster? No idea. Out East, that's all I knew. Great. Two eastern teams playing in B.C. We'll be lucky if there are 5000 people watching. But more of a concern . . who are we going to cheer for? We have to pick one to make it exciting. Well, McMaster has only ever been to the Vanier Cup once before, and they lost. Laval has been 6 times and won every time. So, in the spirit of our friend Adrian Wortley from Winnipeg, who always roots for the underdog, at least when it's not the Saskatchewan Roughriders or the Toronto Maple Leafs (don't ask me?!), we decided to root for McMaster. Plus, they're called the McMaster Marauders and I once played football when I was a kid called the Marauders. So, it fit.
The day of big game came. Ellie and I put on the closest thing we could find to the colour maroon, the colour of the Marauders. We weren't very close. Ellie's shirt was more of a pink and mine was closer to orangey-brown. It didn't matter in the end, because it was chilly enough inside BC place that we needed our jackets on.
Before we went inside though, we walked around the Grey Cup festival grounds outside and had a Mr. Tube Steak hotdog, some chips and pop. We had an interesting encounter with an old, homeless man. He gave Ellie a cute but weird, stuffed 'witch' doll that he had found somewhere. He said "I like it because she's wearing orange and black - the colours of the BC Lions". Ellie wasn't too impressed. I gave a few of my Green Bay Packer M&M's to a woman wearing a Packers jacket. Ellie and I were surprised by the number of Saskatchewan Roughrider fans we saw. You do have to give the Rider fans props - they're probably the craziest, most dedicated fans in the country.
Okay, back to the game. We found our way inside after Ellie had to throw out most of her pop (no outside food allowed). There was a fantastic marching band.
and fireworks . . .
We had popcorn and pop, and later chicken fingers and fries. And more pop. Plus we finished off the rest of my Greenbay Packer M&M's (sent to me for American Thanksgiving from a friend in Winnipeg). Thanks Colan. And . . . Go Packers!
Ellie was happy.
Surprisingly, the game itself was amazing! McMaster was up by 23-0 at the half, so we were happy. But Laval game back in the second half and ended up evening things up at 31-31 with about 2 minutes remaining. So McMaster had the ball with 2 minutes left and marched down the field and could have won the game in regulation with a field goal. But it went wide and Laval ran it out of the end zone preventing McMaster from earning a single point for the win. Overtime!
Each team gets a chance to score from the opposing team's 35 yard line. McMaster was up first and they scored a touchdown. Then Laval did too, on a long pass that the receiver bobbled a few times before landing on his back with the ball falling into his arms! 38-38 . . . double overtime!
This time Laval got to go first. McMaster's defence is fantastic. They had 19 interceptions during the regular season, the most in the league. And the defence came through big time, with an interception in double-overtime of the Vanier cup, to essentially seal the deal. No points for Laval, so with the ball on the 35, McMaster just had to score a field goal to win. And they did! First ever Vanier Cup win for McMaster. Their bench cleared of course - all the players running onto the field and jumping all over the place. Absolute pandemonium!
Oh, I almost forgot about the football that Ellie slept with last night. She got it at the game. It's one of those mini footballs that they toss up into the crowd after a touchdown is scored. She didn't catch it. And neither did I. A nice young man in front of us did, and he turned around and gave it to Ellie. Ellie was so happy.
And so was her football-loving Daddy.