Friday, August 8, 2008

Go, Riders, Go!

Last night we were in the sold-out Mosaic Stadium in downtown Regina to watch our Grey Cup champion Saskatchewan Roughriders play the Calgary Stampeders.

The last time we went to a game, my 13 yr old son was a toddler, and my 10 yr old wasn’t even a twinkle in his father’s eye...

The tickets were a gift from hubby’s work and the seats were fantastic. We sat on the 30 yard line with only one section below us - maybe 2-3 dozen rows? My little guy was worried that the players would look like ants on the field but when he saw the turf and the players warming up, he said, “This is awesome!” I didn't take this photo, but this is how close we were to the action. So yes, we had great seats.

I’d brought a book to read while waiting for the game to start but I just couldn’t get into it. It wasn’t the noise so much as the excitement around us. The Riders were 5 and 0 for the season, with 10 straight wins if you include last season, and expectations were running high that this game would also be winner.

Within minutes of starting the game, the Riders put 4 points on the board. It would be the last time they scored until the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, the Stamps repeatedly scored. When the 3rd quarter ended, the score was 4-30. When the 4th quarter started, however, the Riders roared to life.

The noise was deafening. When the Riders had the ball, Gainer the Gopher would walk onto the field and incite the crowd. Holding signs, he’d urge the crowd on our side of the stadium to roar ‘Go’ and the other side ‘Riders’ and he’d swing his arms and we’d obey.
When the Stamps had the ball, Gainer would raise his arms, fluttering his hands in the air and again we’d obey but this time, it was a tremendous ‘oooooooh’ which blended in with the fog horns to make a noise meant to diffuse the Stamps’ quarterback. I’m sure the sound carried to the perimeter of the Green Mile.

When the Riders finally decided to wake up and get serious about the game, they scored. On each touchdown, a ‘boom’ shook the stadium. And when the football sailed through the uprights for the point after, 2 sets of green fireworks shot into the air.

Then Gainer would jump into his hole which was conveniently located on the back of a pick-up truck and they'd drive him down the length of the stadium with Gainer waving at the crowd. On the other side, he'd out of his hole, slide to the ground and climb on the back of a golf cart, waving at the crowd on that side. Go Gainer!

Different scents reached me as I sat there enthralled. Gunpowder. Beer. Underarm deodorant. Popcorn. Pizza. Perspiration. Hot dogs. Dry garlic ribs...

When we first sat, the empty stadium seats across the field were rectangles of red, yellow and blue. By the time the game started, it was a sea of green and white. I can’t count how many people were wearing watermelon rinds for hats. Or how many green t-shirts. Or Riders’ insignia tattoos on their cheeks. Even in the stores earlier in the day, it seemed like every 10th person wore a Riders t-shirt.

When the game ended and we joined the hoards of people leaving the stadium, with me trying to keep hold of my 10 yr old, I heard people singing the Riders theme song. Others were still chanting, Go, Riders, Go! Yes, the Riders had lost the game by a 25-30 score, but what an exhilarating 4th quarter!

What a game! Go, Riders, Go!


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