Champs on parade

MVP QB Damon Allen hoists the Grey Cup as teammates wave to adoring fans during yesterday's...

MVP QB Damon Allen hoists the Grey Cup as teammates wave to adoring fans during yesterday's championship parade. (Toronto Sun/Stan Behal)

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

Torontonians were certainly up for the Cup.

Nathan Phillips Square turned into a sea of humanity yesterday afternoon to honour the Argonauts following their 27-19 win over the B.C. Lions in the Grey Cup on Sunday at Ottawa's Frank Clair Stadium.

After a parade through the downtown business corridor, the team arrived at the city square, where Mayor David Miller proclaimed Nov. 23, 2004 as "Toronto Argonauts Day in the City of Toronto."

The crowd cheered "MVP, MVP, MVP" when Howard Sokolowski, who owns the team along with David Cynamon, asked, "Who here wants to see Damon back next year?"

He was referring to quarterback Damon Allen, who played a pivotal role in the team's win and was voted the game's most valuable player in the process. Allen, the 41-year-old ageless wonder, played out his contract option.

Allen told the Toronto Sun yesterday he wants to play until at least 2006, when the Argos are expected to move into their new stadium at York University. Allen also paid tribute to the fans and their warm reception.

"It is quite special," he said. "Words really can't describe how you feel about today.

"After you win it, then you realize how excited the city is. The city is quite excited about bringing the Cup back to Toronto (for the first time since 1997). It's a beautiful thing when the best city in Canada has the best trophy in the country."

Defensive tackle Noah Cantor, who has won four Cups in four tries, including back-to-back wins with the Argos in 1996-97, lauded the energy that the fans exuded.

"The fans really seem to be excited about it and I think they were really behind us this year," Cantor said. "Especially at the end of the season they really gave support to us.

"We had our ups and downs, but they were always with us and they showed (at the civic reception) they're true fans."

Linebacker Antonious Bonner, who was a member of the 1997 team, said the latest win was personally sweeter for him because of what the team has endured for three seasons.

"We went through so much to get here," he said. "Losing those two Eastern Division finals against Montreal and then coming back the third year and winning it, the third time's a charm," he said. "I feel real good about this one. A lot of people didn't believe in us, but we believed in each other.

"We stuck together and we always say 'family' before we go out and start practice and end practice. It's a family atmosphere and we pulled it out."

Linebacker Mike O'Shea told the crowd about the team's family feeling.

"Right now you guys are a big part of our family," he said, before leading everyone in a family cheer. "You are exactly why we do this."

Everyone joined in a birthday cheer for receiver Arland Bruce, who celebrated his 27th birthday yesterday.


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