The Calgary Stampeders officially took over the home of their arch-rival Edmonton Eskimos Friday as they prepare to do battle in Sunday’s Grey Cup.
The Stamps dressed in the Eskimos locker room lined with portraits of past Green and Gold greats.
They then trotted out to practise on a field painted with logos for the championship game, including a massive galloping Stampeder horse logo in the north end zone.
Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson said it was critical to get used to their surroundings and make sure they know their way around ahead of Sunday’s clash with the Ottawa Redblacks.
“When we run out we’ll probably go to the wrong sideline because we’re so used to going to the other side,” Dickenson joked prior to the practice in chilly temperatures.
“That’s part of the reason I wanted to do it this way, knowing they have a nice facility and get in here and get used to where you’re going to be and hopefully (be) just a little bit more comfortable for the game.
“Get on the field a day early, maybe get your cleats, learn what the field is like. The more you can simulate the game the better.”
A win on Edmonton’s home turf would be a bit of payback for Calgary.
The Eskimos won the Grey Cup in Calgary in 1975 and 1993. Calgary has never won it on Edmonton’s home field.
Calgary linebacker Alex Singleton said while it’s the Eskimos locker room, they’re working to make it feel like home.
“There’s a lot of red and black in there,” said Singleton.
“Our equipment team did an awesome job making sure as much Eskimo stuff you could cover up is covered with Calgary Stampeder gear.
“They made it as homely as possible, which is what you want. You want to be as comfortable as you can in a new environment.”
Singleton said he’s OK with pictures of Eskimo greats looking down on them as they prepare for the game.
Defensive lineman Ja’Gared Davis agreed it’s about more than the Eskimos.
“There’s so much (football) heritage and so much history here. To come here and be able to play on this field for all the marbles, it means a lot to me.
“This is not our home, but we’re going to treat it like our home away from home.”
What kind of crowd will it be on Sunday? Will they support Calgary as the CFL’s western representative or will the long-standing Battle of Alberta take precedence?
Singleton said they’ll know on the first play.
“I hope it’s a Calgary crowd, but you never know,” he said.
“You always get mixed reviews from the city of Edmonton. We’ll see what happens on Sunday but either way we’re going to come out and play our best game.”
Defensive lineman Derek Wiggan said: “I try not to focus too much on the crowd. the crowd can’t win us the game. It’s about our execution on the field.”