Saturday, November 24, 2012

The 100th Grey Cup

The CFL, 100 years strong and counting this weekend, a Canadian institution that has survived Wars, a Depression and one or two terrible owners over the years.

A collective that has seen franchises lost, franchises gained and franchises eventually returned from where they never should have left.

It has on occasion struggled and then again it has thrived as well, the 100 year old tradition that survives on, despite it seems at times the people that run it.

It has invaded the US and returned a little shell shocked from the incursion and on Sunday, it will bring a country together once again, as only the Grey Cup can.

Yes, somewhere in that audience it's true, a few might not know an Argonaut from a Stampeder, but as it always does, the Grey Cup will provide an audience which will boost television ratings and spike the sales of beer and snack foods (and  provide cause for more than a few home parties) from coast to coast to coast.

The Stampeders earned their way into Lord Earl Grey's party through a path of Saskatchewan and British Columbia, a near death experience in the semi finals, spurring the Stamps on to their handy dismissal of the Lions last week in the Western Final.

The second best team in the CFL of 2012, ascending to the top of the pile through hard work, knocking off the champs as true contenders must do.

The Argos, who came quite close in October to sliding right out of the playoffs, ramped it up when it was required most, knocking out the Eskimos in the semi final, the final punctuation point in the off season trade that brought their new leader to Toronto.

From that statement game they marched into Montreal, faced down the huge crowd of Olympic Stadium and after a horrendous start, found the will to work their way back into contention in the Eastern Final.

Their confidence growing with every pass from Ricky Ray, every call from the defensive coordinators that stymied Montreal at their own game.

The league's wildest dream of the Argos arriving at their own Grey Cup party secured after sixty minutes of football.

The Argos once again find a chance to become a more meaningful sports entity in their hometown, far too often relegated to after thought status, on this weekend the Argos will be the story in Toronto.

It may not translate into a huge jump in season tickets, that of course will take work and in Toronto that's as tough a job as there is, still they've made some serious progress in this final month of the season.

The storybook finish of course would be the Argos on the podium hoisting the Grey Cup, a city celebrating their newest heroes, a championship trophy for a city starved of such baubles.

Calgary we imagine will gladly will don the black hat for that , looking to bring Toronto back down to earth, anxious to remind the east that the best team in the league, should normally win the Grey Cup.

The Stamps were team 1B for most of the regular season, they grabbed the top seed with their victory over the Lions last week.

Yet, Grey Cup Sunday is also about surprises, where the improbable becomes the story.

It makes for a fascinating storyline for Grey Cup 100, the parties are almost finished, the concerts, the festivities and yes even the gallop of a wayward horse in a hotel lobby.

All that is left is for kickoff, tee it up and let's get number 100 underway!

For the record, we'll give the nod to the Stamps to play party poopers at the Rogers Centre and lay claim to the 100th Grey Cup.

Playoff record 

3 correct, 1 wrong

A sliver of good news for Argo fans, the Regular season record 37 correct, 39 wrong

Game Time  6 PM ET, 4 PM MT, 3 ET Rogers Centre TSN

Pre Game Game Preview Video Preview

National Post-- Argos' Ricky Ray, Stampeders' Kevin Glenn make for interesting Grey Cup matchup
Globe and Mail-- The Grey Cup is a game that binds Canadians
Toronto Star-- Fourth Earl Grey left his mark in Canada, and his trophies
Toronto Sun-- Argonauts have home base covered
Calgary Herald-- Stamps' Voice of Experience', Anwar Stewart, calms nerves on Grey Cup eve
Calgary Sun-- Stamps feel the love on final day of practice Argos' defence not surprised by surging Stamps

Team Backgrounders

Toronto Argonauts
Calgary Stampeders

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