Last week’s Friday Conversation about the greatest player in CFL history generated a ton of great back and forth in the comment section. It was exactly what I was hoping for when I hatched this idea. I hope this week’s will live up to that, but I am going to take a little different approach this time out. Instead of debating something, I want us to share something. Namely, what was your favourite game that you ever had the pleasure of attending.
As a fan of the Tiger-Cats for about 25 years, I have had the pleasure of attending more games than I can remember. Being a season-seat holder since 2010 has allowed me to witness many of the great games during this, dare I say, resurgent golden age of Tiger-Cat football (maybe silver age is more appropriate, seeing as the team has lost the last two Grey Cups).
Anyway, what is my favourite game that I attended? The easy answer for me, and for most Tiger-Cat fans my age, is the 1998 East Division Final. It had everything a great game could ask for, and ended with one of the most iconic plays, if not the most iconic play, in Hamilton Tiger-Cats history: Paul Osbaldiston’s game-winning field goal:
Just watch that video. Reliving that moment all these years after and I still get the same feeling I did when I watched it happen in person.
Being in the crowd on that windy November day at Ivor Wynne Stadium is something I will never forget. I still have vivid memories of Osbaldiston’s field goal sailing through the uprights. The jubilation in the crowd is something I will never forget. I hugged and high-fived more strangers in the immediate aftermath of Ozzy’s game winner than I have during the rest of my life.
However, I am not going to pick that game. While it is hard not to say the ’98 East Final, a game that occurred not too long ago recently replaced the ’98 East Final, and it was a game that took place in Toronto of all places, not Hamilton.
The 2013 East Division Final.
It was the Argos and Ticats, the biggest and best rivalry in the CFL, duking it out for the right to go to the Grey Cup. It was the first Argos-Ticats East Final since 1986 and the energy at the stadium formerly known as the SkyDome was insane.
Tiger-Cat fans, myself among them, converged en masse in the hopes of seeing the Ticats finally get back to the Grey Cup. Walking around the area outside the stadium that day, you could tell it was something special. It was a sea of black and gold both inside and outside the Rogers Centre that day. I will not go so far as to say that there were more Tiger-Cat fans in the stadium, but there were more than enough to eliminate the Argos’ home-field advantage. The atmosphere was electric and the game did not disappoint.
It was a thrilling matchup, with the teams trading blows early until the Argos started to pull away midway through the second quarter. A late first half touchdown pass got the Ticats within one score and they would tie the game up early in the third quarter. From then on, the Ticats dominated, not allowing the Argos to get any momentum going on offense, while methodically marching up and down the field when the Ticats had the bal. Eventually, Hamilton would vanquish their most-hated rival and reclaim the CFL’s East Division. Just thinking about that game gives me goosebumps.
There is something about winning an away game that make it feel a little more special. And as a Tiger-Cat fan, it is hard to find a much sweeter win than beating the Argos in Toronto with a berth in the Grey Cup on the line.
So while it would be very easy for me to say that the 1998 East Final is my favourite (and I am sure some, if not many, Tiger-Cats fans who comment will pick that game), I am going with the 2013 East Final.
So what is your favourite? Which game do you say, “Man, I am glad I was there,” when talking to family and friends about it? I look forward to seeing what other games people pick and I hope the discussion is just as fruitful as it was last week.