Colour McMahon green as Rider faithful swoop in

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Henry Burris has a hunch he won't be the first one to arrive at McMahon Stadium today.

Not with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in town.

"There's probably some (Riders fans) out there right now in the parking lot, out there tailgating, getting their Lethbridge beer in them -- the Pilsner beer," the Calgary Stampeders signal-caller said after practice Friday afternoon, still 72 hours before kickoff.

"It's going to be a fun environment."

The Roughriders could be stuck in the CFL cellar, and Gang Green would still show up at McMahon Stadium with their jerseys and noise-makers.

So with the Stamps and their out-of-town guests vying for sole possession of top spot in the West Division, it's a safe bet Riders fans will make their presence known.

They always do.

"The big thing is we control the crowd as a team," Burris said. "If we go out there and we do our jobs, you'll hear the people in red going crazy, not the people in green.

"But they always have fun -- the Roughrider fans. Win, lose or draw, they always make noise regardless."

Nobody has to warn second-year Stampeders fullback Rob Cote about how many Riders supporters will be in the stands when the division rivals hit the field today.

Cote grew up in Cochrane, and his parents are longtime Stamps' season-ticket holders, so he knows the trash-talking isn't limited to between the lines when the Riders visit.

"It's too much green for me, but it makes for a good game," Cote said. "It always feels like a playoff atmosphere.

"I just wish there was a little more red."

There was a time all those green jerseys made Burris' eyes light up. The veteran pivot spent three seasons in Saskatchewan, tossing for 9,044 yards and 54 touchdowns in Riders colours.

It's been four years since Smilin' Hank signed with the Stamps, returning to the city where he started his CFL career and leaving a scowl on the faces of football fans from Moose Jaw to Melfort and every tiny town in between. He's still a favourite target of Rider Nation.

"It's a love-hate relationship," Burris said. "They love me deep inside, but they hate the fact that I wear another colour. But that's what you expect, and you have to love it.

"I'm here, just like the millions of Roughrider fans that live here in this town. I just followed 'em out here."

One of three former Riders on the Stamps roster, Burris calls today's matchup "my Labour Day," and that's not lost on his current teammates.

"Everybody doesn't get to see him in the locker-room, but he gets fired up for these ones," Cote said.

Import receiver Ken-Yon Rambo knows a thing or two about being backed by a passionate fan base.

Prior to signing with the Stampeders, Rambo suited up for the NCAA's Ohio State Buckeyes and NFL's Dallas Cowboys, two of the most popular football programs on the planet.

No matter where the Buckeyes or the Cowboys were playing, Rambo could usually spy some fans cheering in the seats.

"You love to see it because you know you have extra support," Rambo said. "It's a big thing and us players love it. We look up to fans in our colours and know they are supporting us.

"Saskatchewan fans go everywhere, and you can't beat that type of atmosphere."


Videos

Photos