Savouring the sweetness of victory
By Ian Cobb
Half of my life has passed since the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last won the Grey Cup in 1990.
Finishing college in Lethbridge, I was about to embark on a career in journalism when the Bombers last hoisted the cup. It boggles my mind to think that I am about to conclude my third decade bothering politicians and wading about society with beer goggles firmly and purposely fixed and not once have I had the joy of watching my football team win a championship during that abundantly active and exciting time.
In 1990, after the Bombers demoralized the Edmonton Eskimos 50-11 in the 78th Grey Cup, played in Vancouver, it was the third cup they’d won since 1984. All through the ‘80s, the Bombers were among the elite teams in the Canadian Football League. Their success and home field dominance was a beautiful salve for the woes of being a Winnipeg Jets fan at that time.
I admit to being an arrogant and smug fan who expected nothing but greatness from the Bombers. And then 28 seasons passed, with a few cup appearances but no victories. Proof that one should never take anything for granted and one must revel and soak in the sweetness of championship victory.
And I hope my fellow Bombers fans are doing just that today.
My grid iron heroes – the players who brought Winnipeg its first Grey Cup in 22 years (their previous longest streak sans a cup win) in 1984 were Tommy Clements, Willard Reaves, Tyrone Jones, James West, Chris Walby, Joe Poplowski, Jeff Boyd and John Hufnagel (affectionately serenaded by Bombers faithful as “Hoof-ah-nagel, Hoof-ah-nagel” whenever he trotted onto the field to mop up games methodically won by Clements.
Today, young fans who have never experienced the joy of a cup win, are nursing five alarm hangovers, are likely largely absent from work, even if they’re there, and they will forever remember Zach Collaros, Andrew Harris, Adam Bighill, Willie Jefferson, Jermarcus Hardrick, Nic Demski, Darvin Adams and Chris Streveler.
Portage and Main was delightful chaos last night.
In 1984, we flocked downtown and spent hours marching up and down Portage Avenue, beer soaked inside and out; frozen but unaware of it. Whatever chance I had at being the next Ronnie James Dio was torn to pieces that night as shouting, screaming and howling at the top of my lungs for hours on end in the cold tore my voice apart.
In 1988 we trashed a Holiday Inn room in Winnipeg after the Bombers squeaked out a 22-21 win over the BC Lions in the 76th Grey Cup.
In 1990, I had tickets to the game in Vancouver but failed to make it to the city thanks to a snowstorm that stopped us in Princeton. We made it back to Penticton on Grey Cup day and watched the game in a pub. I could tell you a party story that would make hearty hedonists pee their pantaloons but for the sake of conciseness, I’ll leave it be.
During the long drive home to Lethbridge the next day, a white-knuckler of the nastiest order compounded by the fact we had axes wedged in the backs of our heads, I never once contemplated the fact I might not ever see my team win another championship.
The more life passes you by the more you realize that shit happens – all the time – and nothing is a given or guaranteed.
So today, a Monday in which I should be working full tilt, I am instead contemplating the sweetness of victory and letting it wash over me; 29 years of d’oh and damn batted away by a fourth brush with championship joy.
Not going to get anything done today; nada – zilch. Considering the span of time from the third and fourth cup championships for the Bombers, in my lifetime, I may never see them win it again – save unlikely longevity. Or they might win it again next year. Ahh, sports.
So please excuse my rant but there is sage advice for fellow Bombers fans, and indeed fans of any team, in the rambling message. And it applies to every aspect of life; never take anything for granted and appreciate the good times for they are fleeting in the evermore rapid passage of time.
… and back to bed.
Lead image: Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris is the first player to be named Top Canadian and Grey Cup MVP in CFL history. Winnipeg Blue Bombers.com/ Johany Jutras CFL image
Ian Cobb is owner/editor of e-KNOW and a devout follower of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in case it wasn’t clear.