Soft spot for Hamilton

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

There's nothing finer than taking in the annual Labour Day Classic at venerable Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Unless, of course, you're a Tiger-Cats fan.

In my opinion, Ivor Wynne Stadium is the best place to watch a game in the CFL. I love the view from the press box, with the mountain on one side and the steel mills on the other.

It reminds me a lot of Mimico, when Mimico still had factories.

Now Mimico has been proclaimed one of the up-and-coming neighbourhoods by Toronto Life magazine, which is amazing because I always thought the editors at Toronto Life had no idea that there were people living beyond Rosedale, The Beach and Kensington.

To me, taking in a CFL game at Rogers Centre is like watching the ballet in an airplane hanger.

I know the Argos have very loyal fans. We have a couple on the Sun news desk, who, in a pinch, could fill in on the offensive line for the Double Blue.

Loving Ivor Wynne

But the atmosphere at the Rogers Centre when you have a decent crowd of, say, 25,000 is not great. It's too big, too cavernous. Too antiseptic. Throw 25,000 people into Ivor Wynne and you have something.

What's amazing are the differences between the two teams, their stadiums and the cities they play in. For instance:

The Ticats cater to their blue-collar fans.

The Argos cater to anyone with $58 to spend on a hot dog.

The Argos are coached by a guy named Pinball.

The Ticats are coached by a guy who soon will be unemployed.

The Argonauts mascot, Jason, was a Greek mythological figure whose father, Aeson, was the rightful king of Iolcus and his mother, Amphinome, killed herself with a sword, after pronouncing a curse against the persecuting king, Pelias.

The Ticats mascot is Pigskin Pete, a fat guy with a drum.

Toronto fans love to chant "Arrrrrrgoooos".

Hamilton fans chant love to "Oskeeweewee, Oskeewaawaa", which is, I believe, Russian for "30,000 kopecks and you can buy the steel mill."

The "Oskeeweewee" chant ends with the line: "Eat 'em raw."

Unfortunately, the only thing the 1-8 Ticats are eating raw these days is sushi. That is, when they visit a city with a decent Japanese restaurant.

Hamilton fans hate Toronto.

Toronto fans aren't sure where Hamilton is.

Hamilton's stadium is named after a guy who cared deeply for his community.

Toronto's stadium is named for a guy who cares deeply for his community. (I'm not sure if Ted Rogers owns the Toronto Sun yet, but I'm not taking any chances).

In Hamilton, the Ticats are the only game in town.

In Toronto, overweight fans are often gamy.

A lot of young families are attracted to the neighbourhood around Ivor Wynne Stadium because of its relatively low real estate prices and quality of life.

A lot of young families are attracted to the area around the Rogers Centre because runaway teenagers often congregate under a nearby bridge.

I remember my first impression of Hamilton. We were driving over the Burlington Skyway on a brilliant, spring day, when I said to my old dad: "Dad, are those steel mills over there?"

To which my dad turned around, smiled and replied: "Son, you know better than to ask dumb questions. Shut up before I clout ya."

Oh, yeah. Good times.

I once visited my good friend Tim Wharnsby, who was covering, I believe, a hockey tournament in Hamilton for the Sun.

Unfortunately, poor Timmy was lying sick in bed and couldn't get up. Hell, he was so sick, he might have been dead for all I knew, if not for the fact that he did have one vital sign ... snoring. Poor Tim. When he finally gathered the strength to check out of his room, his hotel bill included 13 pay-per-view movies. And not one of them was the Apple Dumpling Gang.

So you can see why I have a soft spot for The Steel City.

I loved Hamilton since the days when CHCH TV aired The Hilarious House of Frankenstein, not to mention Tiny Talent Time, which, oddly enough, is what some have suggested I call this column.


Photos