Labour Day tilt was one to love
By PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun
Toronto Argonauts quarterback Michale Bishop looks up field during first half action against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Hamilton, Ont., Monday, Sept. 6, 2004. (CP PHOTO/Aaron Harris)
While people will probably be talking about the 30-30 Labour Day overtime thriller between the Argos and Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium, here are some observations from some of the principals involved:
- Argos running back John Avery, who scored a thrilling 74-yard touchdown, commented about the intensity of the game, in which there were four ejections and numerous injuries, including the badly broken leg suffered by Ticats defensive lineman Hakeem Kashama: "People have to understand these are soldiers out here. I don't care what level you're on, whether it's the NFL level, CFL level or if you're in Egypt playing football, you can't put a price on what guys go through physically on that field. We're not playing baseball. We're not sitting there waiting for somebody to make a hit and then running."
- Argos receiver Andre Rison, who played in his first Canadian Football League game and first game in more than three years, had thoughts on a variety of things.
On the overall atmosphere: "That's a great classic. A great game. It's good for the league. There should be more games like that. I give credit to the Hamilton fans and the Toronto fans who came down to watch it. I guess when the attendance goes up, the league starts to make positive progress in ticket sales and gate sales and the refs can get paid more."
On his team's ability to handle the adversity of losing two starting receivers -- R. Jay Soward and Andre Talbot -- for fighting early in the game: "You're talking about a makeshift lineup that battled. It could have been a circus out there and that credit goes to (offensive co-ordinator) Kent Austin and (head coach) Pinball Clemons. It could have been a disaster. I've been in situations like that where a second and third-string guy has to come in there and play and all hell breaks loose. I tipped my hand off to Kent for having us prepared. It showed."
On his team-leading four catches: "I read (negative stories) about me prior to hitting the field and I'm going to leave it to the reporters who write what they see on the field. You're not in these shoes. If you were in these shoes it would be totally different. Then you know you can play."
- Recently signed Arland Bruce, who played in Labour Day clashes with Winnipeg against Saskatchewan, had a different perspective of the Eastern battle.
"The weather was perfect, the fans had fun, there was some fighting and guys getting thrown out. It was a fun game, but it was bad for us that our guys got kicked out."
The ejections forced Bruce to play almost the entire game on offence in addition to return duties, but he proved to be a quick study.
"When I first got in, I spent two or three hours with (Austin) taking notes," he said.
"I wanted to be a professional and get in the offence wherever I can fit in, whether inside or outside. The guys in the huddle helped me out and it worked out."
- Tiger-Cats quarterback Danny McManus, who may or may not have gotten away in the fourth quarter with a fumble that was ruled an incomplete pass, aptly summed up his seventh Toronto/Hamilton Labour Day game.
"I would say it's typical Labour Day, just the intensity," he said. "You don't expect the ejections to happen, but it's two teams that know each other, know each guy, actually probably even worked out in the off-season with each other, but for the three hours they really hate each other and have a war.
"Both teams deserved to win that game and it's probably justified that both teams got a single point from it."