Als' Matthews recalls meeting Clair

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

Alouettes coach Don Matthews paid tribute to the late Frank Clair yesterday.

Matthews, who has 214 career regular-season victories along with 12 playoff wins including five Grey Cup titles, surpassed Clair in 1997 while coaching the Argonauts to become the CFL's winningest coach when he recorded his 148th triumph.

"I'm delighted that he's being honoured," said Matthews.

Renegades brass will hold a pre-game ceremony to celebrate Clair's accomplishments before tonight's kickoff.

Pat Clair, widow of the beloved former Rough Riders coach who led the club during some of its most successful seasons, will participate in the ceremony, as will former Rider greats Bobby Simpson and Ken Lehmann.

Back in 1997, Clair was on hand at SkyDome when Matthews surpassed his long-standing record, and the two met on the field after the game.

Matthews chuckled when he remembered that Clair asked him why he hadn't retired sooner.

"He seemed like a very, very nice man," said Matthews. "I didn't know him other than meeting him that one time. Certainly, his naming of a stadium must represent some very, very fond memories here in Ottawa."

The family will scatter Clair's ashes at the stadium during a private ceremony. Clair was 87 when he died in April at his home in Florida.

SURPRISE GIFT: Renegades president Lonie Glieberman dropped by the field after Alouettes' practice yesterday to present Als' OT Uzooma Okeke the orange, blue and white jersey he wore during his rookie CFL season in 1994 with the Shreveport Pirates, which the Glibermans owned. "We were a pretty good team back then," said the 6-foot-2, 270-lb. Okeke, who played two years in Shreveport and another in Ottawa before joining the Alouettes in 1997 for his first of eight seasons in Montreal. "I thought the (Gliebermans) were pretty good people," he said. "I didn't deal with them much, but I was just lucky to be on the team." Okeke said he'd try to fit into his rookie jersey when none of his teammates can watch him squeeze in.

FUN FROM FINLAND: Lonie Glieberman has a group of three female friends from Michigan in Ottawa to make a ceremonial gift presentation to Canada at halftime in honour of Canada Day. The girls -- named Anti, Isa and Anya -- attend Finlandia University in Hancock, Mich., and have worked for Glieberman at his ski resort. After filming a clip for the scoreboard yesterday, they balked at a request by Glieberman to pose for a TV report about the Mardi Gras promotion. "We don't want to be associated with Mardi Gras, because we're not that slutty," complained one.


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