Ticats plan season of Ivor Wynne tributes

Ivor Wynne Stadium. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency file photo)

Ivor Wynne Stadium. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency file photo)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:31 PM ET

HAMILTON - The curtain will drop at Ivor Wynne Stadium and the memories and recollections will flow right up until the final tackle and final whistle gets blown.

No matter what gets said, no matter what story, embellished or not, gets told, it’s unlikely no one will summon the passion Paul Osbaldiston oozed on Tuesday, a day the Ticats used to unveil their season-long tribute to one of the sport’s truly iconic playpens, a place so unique that tales of Ivor Wynne will resonate well beyond when the new stadium gets erected.

Osbaldiston lived through the experience as a player during a playing career dotted with personal and team achievements, absorbed the feel as a parent by taking his two sons, both born in the Hammer.

“This stadium becomes a part of you,’’ began Osbaldiston. “It becomes a reason your heart beats and why your blood flows through our veins.”

The man known as Ozzie was genuine as he was sublime when asked to kick game-winning field goals, a guy who bleeds black and gold and who truly embraces community and the fighting spirit that is Tiger Town.

“The memories go on from person to person, father to son, mother to daughter,’’ added Osbaldiston.

“The names may change from (Angelo) Mosca to (Grover) Covington up to (Joe) Montford , but those memories are universal and it’s something we all shared as players and fans.

“The fans here are so close and you hear everything that’s said, they see you off the field.”

Ivor Wynne Stadium continues to feature this raw charm that is sure to attract large crowds in its final season of operation.

“I can relate to the fans in this city and why they enjoy coming here because it is a sanctuary,’’ continued Osbaldiston.

“It quickly became obvious to me that a lot of people come here, and I came here for the same reason, that no matter what was going in with your family at the time or how bad work was, whenever you came to the stadium it was a place you would go and it would completely change your day, completely change your week and sometimes your year.

“You’re just so excited about the atmosphere, excitement, electricity in the air.”

More than any field goal that lifted the Tiger-Cats into a Grey Cup berth, it was the reaction of opposing players that had an impact on Osbaldiston.

“Ironically enough, what I loved to hear was visiting players saying: ‘I hate this place.’

“Standing on the sidelines in my rookie year (1986) against Calgary,’’ related Osbaldiston. “Their quarterback threw an interception on a peel back, Mike Walker (Hamilton’s legendary defensive lineman) hit Michael Jenkins so hard outside the numbers on our bench that he flew through the air.

“He went past me, bounced once on the turf and skidded into the dugout. He hit the wall on the bench. Give him credit because he got up with his helmet all twisted, blood pouring down his chin, and started to walk through all our players, a little bit of a gauntlet along our bench.

“And here came those words you heard so often. ‘I hate this place.’ ”

There was a post-game conversation Osbaldiston had with Stamps placekicker Mark McLoughlin, who missed a 27-yard field goal, an attempt that actually landed three yards short of the goalline as the vexing easterly winds off the lake took yet another victim.

“After the game he asked me how do you do it here. I told him I love it here.

“He looks at me and says: ‘I hate this place.’ ”

From the June 13 pre-season game to the regular-season finale on Oct. 27, it’ll be a season-long love-fest at venerable Ivor Wynne Stadium, a place the Ticats will do everything in their power to present a fitting send off.

Tasteful and professional, the Ticats, in conjunction with corporate sponsor Tim Horton’s, will honour fans, celebrate iconic moments and present an all-time roster, all aimed at celebrating the final season at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

So historic is the season that even Earl Winfield, whom many figured went missing, will be back for the first time since his brilliant run in Steeltown.

Fittingly, he’ll be honoured on Labour Day against the Argos, a team and backdrop Winfield used to produce one of the most spectacular performances of all time when he scored three touchdowns, kickoff, punt return and reception.

“It’s kind of sad to think this is the last year,’’ Mosca said. “I first came here in 1958 and I’ll never forget how we used to kick the point after from the end zone into the playing field because we didn’t want to lose any footballs.

“I couldn’t believe how small this stadium was and I kept saying to myself: ‘What is this?’

“But what memories. Leaving the field after the 1972 Grey Cup would represent, by far, my greatest memory.

“As I walked off, there was this big sheet that read: ‘Thanx and goodbye, Ang.’

“I’ve always remembered that.”

Fans, Ticats players and even opposing players will never forget Ivor Wynne Stadium.


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