Ex-prez wins 50/50 prize

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

Sandro DeAngelis may have run into the locker-room as the hero but Ron Rooke walked away with all the cash.

In the midst of a wild night at McMahon Stadium that featured more on- and off-field giveaways than a Monty Hall production, it was the former Stampeders team president who pocketed the $12,000 prize in the 50/50 draw.

Call it an unofficial severance following his unceremonious ousting by the new ownership group in January 2005.

"I didn't know where to report to," laughed Rooke, who knew instantly he'd won as his ticket number (535000) was easy to remember.

"I worked for the club for so many years that this was one of my first times buying 50/50 tickets. Before I started working at the club, they didn't even have a 50/50 draw."

Calmly leaving his seat early in the fourth quarter when the winning number was announced, the team's longtime marketing and communications director proceeded to the front office he worked in for 14 years.

Informing longtime receptionist and colleague Joanne Gauthier he'd won, the two immediately embraced.

The reception was not quite as warm on the field, where executive v.p. Stan Schwartz presented Rooke with a cheque on the 30-yard line.

The name announced and shown on the stadium Jumbotron identified the winner simply as Ron.

"That was kind of the first time I had talked to Stan in years," said Rooke, who was part of the front office under owner Michael Feterik that had Schwartz fired as team president and replaced by Mark McLoughlin three years ago.

"I actually saw him on the concourse before the game and I said, 'Hi.' He was happy for me."

Schwartz said he figured one day the two would sit down and have a nice chat about bygones but insisted he was strictly professional about the on-field meeting.

"I'm not one of those guys who holds grudges," said Schwartz.

"I'm a better man that that."

Several players who knew Rooke well didn't see or hear the announcement of the winner with five minutes left as they were embroiled in a tense one-point ball game that came down to DeAngelis' dramatic game-ending field goal punctuated by his FIFA-style sprint straight into the locker- room.

"I said to my two boys, 'Sandro would have been running like that no matter what happened,' " laughed Rooke, an age-old Stamps fan who was thrilled to return to the football business two weeks ago when he became v.p. of marketing for the CFL players' association.

"Good things happen in threes -- maybe I'll buy a lottery ticket."

Most players reacted with shock and happiness after the game, including Stamp Brian Clark.

"Nice -- 50 percent of that goes to the players' association," joked Clark when told of Rooke's windfall.

"He's already making money for us."

Rooke wasn't sure how he'd spend his money but pointed out his boys were leaving for Italy today and might be sent packing with a cut.

Then again, maybe he'll donate it to minor football with which he worked so hard promoting all these years.


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