We can here the cry up Robson Street and down Granville right now, Tickets; Tickets get your tickets…….Please!
After a season which started full of promise, the BC Lions 2005 campaign came to a sudden and unexpected end. The Leos came out flat in the first half of their Western Conference Final against the Edmonton Eskimos, taking too many penalties and giving away too many footballs at key points of the game. That combined with yet another unscheduled relief performance by Eskie Jason Maas, led the Eskimos to a 28-23 victory over the Defending Western Champions. A loss that sent thousands of Leo’s fans home to vent, many of whom called up the post game shows to suggest some changes are needed in the Lions den.
The quarterback controversy that has dogged this team since the start of the season, played out probably its final act on Sunday afternoon at BC Place. As Wally Buono turned the ball over to Casey Printers late in the fourth quarter hoping the spark would lead to a last minute comeback and a chance to star in their own homefiled Grey Cup game. But in the end it wasn’t meant to be, some last second excitement only served to bring the fans up high, only to drop them down hard by the games completion.
The final minutes of play were as exciting as a CFL game can give you, but like many a CFL game calls by the officiating crew were a tad hard to follow. A drive by the Leos, was kept alive on a pass interference call as time ticked down, but another play which featured a pass route diversion by a hit was left as is, running out the clock and the Lions season. Consistency never seems to be gold standard in CFL officiating at times.
Regardless, the Lions have no one to blame but themselves for their predicament. They never seemed to get untracked until the mid part of the second quarter, falling behind by a score of 21- 3 and then coming back to tie the game at 21 before falling behind for good. Dickenson analyzed his game in the dressing afterwards and declared that the effort was not his best game, and how you want to perform in the big games and he didn’t get the job done.
An emotional Casey Printers proclaimed how he gave it all for this club this year and was quite frustrated at not being able to pull the Western Final out of the fire. The timing of his insertion into the game will be the thing of debate for much of the off season, at least until either he or Dickenson find themselves with a new home in 2006. The uncomfortable situation between the two determined quarterbacks seemed to sap this team of its energy as the season went along, culminating in last gasp grab for the home playoff date, only to lose that advantage by half time, leaving the team to scramble to keep things hopeful til the end.
For Vancouver itself, a Lion less Grey Cup might put a bit of a damper on many of the Grey Cup activities, as the normally fickle Lions fans lose their zeal to Party on the Pacific. A smart Edmonton football fan is already placing his or her ad in the Vancouver Sun or Province for Monday morning. The game already announced as a sell out may find some serious re-allocation of football colours in the stands by next Sunday.
The Orange and Black sweaters, flags and fingers will be making way for the Green and Gold of the Eskimos, with a smaller section of red white and Blue Alouette material.
It’s not the way it was supposed to be this Grey Cup Week, in Bob Ackles and Wally Buono’s world this was the week to climb that final mountain and claim the Grey Cup in their home city.
Instead, the Eskimos and Als will battle it out on the field, while the Lions clean it out in the dressing room!