More than 44,000 football fans, most decked out in green and white, descended on Mosaic Stadium on Sunday to watch the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats face off in the 101st Grey Cup.
The fans were on their feet early in the game, chanting “Henry,” in attempt to make play tough for Ticats quarterback Henry Burris, who is a former Rider.
Many fans were on the stadium grounds even before they could get into the Regina-based venue.
Brenda Jessome, a die-hard Rider fan, was wearing a watermelon carved into a hat with pompoms coming out the sides. Jessome said one of her sons carved the watermelon hat, but it didn’t fit him so she ended up wearing it.
“You just got to make sure it doesn’t touch your forehead because it gets cold,” she laughed.
Jessome, who was at the game with her sons, Dale and Mike, says Grey Cup week is all about the love of football and for one week, everyone is friends.
“It doesn’t matter what team you’re on, not at all,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter what team you’re on, just enjoy the CFL, get to know the game, have fun with the game and have fun the league because it is a better game and it is very enjoyable.”
Ken Keller painted his son’s pickup truck green just for Grey Cup. In the back of the truck, parked across the alley from Mosaic Stadium, Keller had huge speakers set up and was blaring “Green is the Colour,” a Saskatchewan Roughriders song.
“We’re bleeding green,” said Keller.
Ticats fan Donna Harrison was also in Saskatchewan for the game and said she wouldn’t miss it. The Ticats have been her team for 52 years and she loves them, she said.
“Well, it’s Grey Cup and I come to Grey Cup. It’s my 15th one. It’s Canada’s party,” said Harrison.
“You come for the party and stay for the game, and in this case we’re really staying for the game.”
Harrison says she hopes it’s a close game, with good ball protection on both sides. The Ticats are in the Grey Cup for the first time since ’99. Harrison says “it’s been 14 long years” and she hopes they can pull off the win.
Next to Harrion was Betty Halliday. The two women first met “years ago” at a Grey Cup and meet up every year for the championship.
“My team is in it,” said Halliday, who was wearing a full length Ticats jacket. “I’ve been doing this 16 years. I love the Cats.”
Even some Hollywood celebrity power showed up cheer on the Ticats.
— Hamilton Tiger-Cats (@Ticats) November 24, 2013
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are considered the favourite going into the game and are carrying the weight of an entire province’s expectations. It’s the first time Saskatchewan has played in the Grey Cup at home.
Some Roughriders fans say one person who stands in the way is Ticats head coach Kent Austin. Austin led the Riders to the Grey Cup when he was their head coach in 2007 and their quarterback in 1989.
After a frigid week with wind chills that made it feel colder than -30C, the 44,710 fans were basking in the relatively balmy temperatures just before kickoff. Environment Canada’s website said it was 1C at 5 p.m. in Regina.
With files from CityNews.ca staff