REGINA – Fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders football club were hugging each other and high-fiving strangers in downtown Regina after the team won the Grey Cup on Sunday.
Albert St., better known as the “Green Mile,” was shutdown to traffic and packed with people.
“It’s great for Rider nation. I think it’s great for the city, the province, the country. It’s amazing we’ve gone 101 years and only won it three times, so this was a long time coming and it’s great for everybody,” said Thomas Hamilton, who was there to celebrate with his family.
“To have it happen at home, I think it’s great. People talk about the economic benefits, but I think it’s more emotional and this kind of stuff goes a long way.”
The championship was held at Mosaic Stadium, home to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. It was the first time the Riders played in the Grey Cup at home.
More than 44,000 football fans, most decked out in green and white, descended on Mosaic Stadium to see the game in person. They were on their feet early in the game, chanting “Henry,” in attempt to make play tough for Ticats quarterback Henry Burris, who is a former Rider.
When the final seconds counted down and Saskatchewan beat the Ticats 45-23, fans went wild.
Mark Walter, from Prince Albert, Sask., was also among those celebrating on the street in downtown Regina.
“Well, you can’t really beat that one actually,” Walter said of the home turf win.
Many fans were on the stadium grounds even before they could get inside.
Brenda Jessome, a die-hard Rider fan, was wearing a watermelon carved into a hat with pompoms coming out the sides. Jessome said one of her sons carved the watermelon hat, but it didn’t fit him so she ended up wearing it.
“You just got to make sure it doesn’t touch your forehead because it gets cold,” she laughed.
Jessome, who was at the game with her sons, Dale and Mike, says Grey Cup week is all about the love of football and for one week, everyone is friends.
“It doesn’t matter what team you’re on, not at all,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter what team you’re on, just enjoy the CFL, get to know the game, have fun with the game and have fun the league because it is a better game and it is very enjoyable.”
Ken Keller painted his son’s pickup truck green just for Grey Cup. In the back of the truck, parked across the alley from Mosaic Stadium, Keller had huge speakers set up and was blaring “Green is the Colour,” a Saskatchewan Roughriders song.
“We’re bleeding green,” said Keller.
Ticats fan Donna Harrison was also in Saskatchewan for the game and said she wouldn’t miss it. The Ticats have been her team for 52 years and she loves them, she said.
“Well, it’s Grey Cup and I come to Grey Cup. It’s my 15th one. It’s Canada’s party,” said Harrison.
“You come for the party and stay for the game, and in this case we’re really staying for the game.”
Next to Harrison was Betty Halliday. The two women first met years ago at a Grey Cup and meet up every year for the championship.
“I’ve been doing this 16 years. I love the Cats,” said Halliday, who was wearing a full length Ticats jacket.
The Ticats were in the Grey Cup for the first time since ’99.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders were considered the favourite going into the game and carried the weight of an entire province’s expectations. Their last win was in 2007 when the Grey Cup was held in Toronto.
After a frigid week with wind chills that made it feel colder than -30C, the 44,710 fans at the stadium were basking in the relatively balmy temperatures just before kickoff. Environment Canada’s website said it was 1C at 5 p.m. in Regina.