Big play Labour of love

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

A game-changing play is always satisfying.

Executing one of those during an important game -- such as Labour Day -- is even more thrilling.

Some would say unforgettable.

So when asked about his Labour Day 2007, Ryan Thelwell could easily tell you how it felt scoring two touchdowns, one that he was so wide open on he high-stepped into the endzone.

Thelwell finished with 199 yards in his first taste of the annual battle with the Edmonton Eskimos.

The 35-year-old Calgary Stampeders receiver has had great plays in other games, but has to admit when it happens during a highly anticipated outing, the feeling is much better.

That's why Labour Day isn't just another game.

"It's not," Thelwell said. "We will say the right things about it being one game on the schedule. It's a BIG game.

"It's our rivals and now we're tied for second and have two against them. We let one go last time in Edmonton (July 3) and need to make up for it.

"The guys are fired up, not that we aren't usually. The coach doesn't have to say anything to get us fired up."

Stampeders defensive back Brandon Browner counts a road game at LSU as the biggest crowd he ever played in front of while with Oregon State. As a pro, Browner has no trouble recalling last year's Labour Day when he stripped Eskimos receiver T.J. Acree on what was a sure touchdown.

"It means a lot because of the significance of the game," Browner said. "To have it as a momentum changer was perfect."

There are no shortage of memorable plays or performances on the holiday Monday.

Who could forget Wane McGarity's 126-yard missed field goal return TD in 2003.

Or how about Jeff Garcia's 546 passing yards and six touchdowns in 1995.

Stamps backup quarterback Dave Dickenson remembers that well, but not the year it happened.

"I started in 1996 and that year there was a lot of talk about Jeff and whether he could reproduce his coming out party from the year before," Dickenson said.

"I actually remember a loss more than anything else. We always have good luck here. The loss that snapped the streak in 1999 (six years).

"Terry Vaughn had gone to the Eskimos and after the game he kept telling us his Labour Day win streak was still alive.

"It was a great game and it was HOT. The temperature was well into the 30s, the old astroturf was boiling and we were wearing black uniforms.

"Unfortunately, the most clear memories for me are the ones that got away."

Since returning to the CFL in 2003 from an NFL stint, Dickenson was in B.C., where there is no Labour Day rivalry, unless you include an annual meeting with Montreal.

He is pumped about being involved once again, even if he doesn't get to play a snap.

"I missed it," Dickenson said. "I loved the Monday and Friday games. It's fair because you play the same team. You play awfully quick, so if either team could win both it sets them up for a good run the rest of the way."

As for Thelwell, he may not be a huge part of the Stamps offence anymore, but he still delivers in the clutch.

And there are parallels to last year at this time, when Thelwell only had one reception in the two games prior to Labour Day.

"Leading up to that game, it was slow for me," Thewell said. "I just wanted to feel like I was contributing, because I wasn't as much as I could have ... You never know when your number is going to be called."


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