When I was a kid, I always hated going back to school. But at least we’d get that one last summer tradition: the annual Labour Day Classic at Ivor Wynne Stadium between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts.
Being a Ticats fan over the years means we’ve been a tortured bunch. The team has changed owners several times (even Harold Ballard has owned the team), gone bankrupt as many times and has many fewer Grey Cups than the Argos in the same time frame. Hamilton fans’ response of “SUCK!” to Toronto’s hideously simple “AAAARRRRRRRGOOOOOOOOOS” chant just doesn’t hold the weight it used to.
This was the first Labour Day Classic in eons that actually meant something to both teams other than tradition. Both sides have been competitive in 2010, and the game represented second place in the East. With Anthony Calvillo nursing a bum sternum and battling old age, the division is ripe for the taking.
In “the Hammer”, we put aside our hatred for the annoying stadium debate to watch two good rivals go to war.
Aside: for the past 4 months, this Pan Am stadium thing has been my go-to bar conversation topic whenever there’s an awkward silence. I don’t know what I’m going to talk about when there’s finally a resolution. Though by the time that happens the Leafs may have won the Cup, so maybe I’ll go with that.
Old Lady Wynne
A sold out Ivor Wynne is a treasure. 30,000 people from all walks of life.
In Hamilton, there’s a bit of a Caddyshack thing going on—the slobs vs. the snobs. (This probably exists in other cities too but Hamilton gets slagged all the time for its image as a rustbelt town so I’m taking advantage here.)
In the west of the city, there are the well-to-do who have established themselves in the city or commute to Toronto for work (too good for Hamilton, eh?). While in the east, there’s the hard-working lunchbucket crowd. Generalizations, sure. Point is, we’re all Hamiltonians at heart and we all love, LOVE, Labour Day at Ivor Wynne.
It’s our last chance to show our civic pride against the puritans from T.O. before we go back to the grind the next day. Here’s a quick list of how we show this pride:
a) Yelling the worst, most foul obscenities even your local Mafia boss would be stunned by, all no more than 10 feet away from the Argo’s bench.
b) Relentlessly hammering upon those tin section number signs at the top of every aisle when the defense is on the field.
c) Pouring a beer on the Argonauts when they walk through the visitor’s tunnel – Mike O’Shea was our favourite for many years.
Important note: this tunnel travels directly under the cheapest seats in the house. Only at Ivor Wynne are the cheapest seats located so close to the field, and if that wasn’t nonsensical enough, they’re within touching distance of the opposing players! Can you imagine if by some grace of God, Manny Ramirez was forced to walk underneath right-centre field at old Yankee Stadium to get to his team’s clubhouse? Humour me, will you?
d) If torturing visiting Argonaut fans during the game wasn’t enough for you, you could always climb aboard a Toronto fan bus afterwards and bite the ear off of an unsuspecting Argo supporter. This actually happened not too long ago. I was conflicted with feelings of pride and disappointment in my fellow Hamiltonian. Though, to warrant a reaction like that, the Argo fan had to have done something really bad.
Remember Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt in the World Cup four years ago? Would he have done something so ridiculously insane at such a crazy moment in the match had Marco Materazzi not uttered something so inappropriate? Basically, the Torontonian must’ve said something about the Hamiltonian’s mom.
This was my first Labour Day game in five years. I know more about the boys now than I did then, and I also care a helluva lot more. The team doesn’t suck now. Begrudgingly, I must admit: neither do the Argos. The East could actually be the strong division in the CFL.
I’m also more invested in this team than I was back then. A new stadium and a division title are on the line, and of course, our civic pride. I cannot wait until Tuesday, when I will gloat at my co-workers in Toronto. Unfortunately, they won’t give a crap because to them the Maple Leafs, trendy clubs, and bitching about the TTC are all more important than the CFL.
A revived Labour Day is important for both Hamilton and the CFL. The league could benefit from a strong East. As for myself, I’m just glad I’m not going back to school today.
-to see James Scarfone’s Open Letter to Rogers Communications, click here
-to see James Scarfone’s previous post on the mess in Hamilton click here
-follow James Scarfone on twitter: @jamesscarfone