Veteran St. John enjoying good times

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

He has toiled in football's trenches and finally got to savour the spoils of victory.

Jude St. John is one of those CFL survivors who are easy to cheer, an Argos ambassador who gets better with age and one who has learned to take nothing for granted.

He is among a handful of Argos who has seen the franchise sink to its lowest ebb and rise to the highest of levels.

As the Argos get ready for tomorrow's East final against the visiting Montreal Alouettes, St. John knows what's at stake.

"Quite a few teams have won a Grey Cup, but not many have won two in a row," the veteran offensive lineman said. "We want to be mentioned as one of those elite teams."

St. John went 10 years before he earned his first championship ring.

He joined the Argos in 1998, a year after the team had put together back-to-back Grey Cup titles, and witnessed first-hand the organization's plunge into obscurity.

The Argos have come full circle from those dark days and are now playing host to a Montreal team under a backdrop where the roles clearly have been reversed.

In the three previous East final matchups, the Argos had to venture into a noisy Olympic Stadium, finally breaking through a year ago en route to the Grey Cup title.

"I've seen some hard times, some lean years, sparse crowds and believe me it wasn't enjoyable," St. John said. "I would never have guessed how quickly this turnaround would happen. You could see things happening, but not like this.

"We had 40,000 when we clinched the East against Hamilton and (tomorrow) we'll have some 45,000 people."

The Western product has been a fixture on the offensive line and has grown into one of the team's elder statesmen.

"After all those years of not winning a Grey Cup, let alone playing in one, it was a weird feeling this year," St. John, who turns 33 next month, said. "If anything, it motivated me to work even harder in the off-season.

"Having won a championship, you need to find another source of motivation and for us it's being a dominating team. We're hungrier today than we were a year ago this time and I haven't seen a hint of complacency."

St. John believes the Argos, who took two of three meetings during the regular season, match up well against the Als and is predicting a very competitive battle.

"Essentially, each team has an MVP quarterback," he said. "Montreal has been the best in the East for the past five years and we each have veteran players. It's going to be a great game."


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