Boos bothering Blue

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:37 AM ET

Blue Bomber head coach Jim Daley has been preaching patience, a mighty fine virtue when it comes to mastering high-wire acts and dismantling explosives.

Where it fits in with sports fans is another story entirely. Particularly Winnipeg football fans.

Because based on developments here two nights ago, you get the impression the stuff is not in very good supply in this town.

It was barely two minutes into Thursday's game against the Calgary Stampeders -- the booze had barely been flowing -- that the boos began flowing.

At that point, a sober crowd was witnessing another sobering start by the winless Bombers -- a blocked punt leading to a Calgary touchdown on Winnipeg's first possession.

What followed was enough to send the nuns in attendance racing for the beer lineup: two fumbled snaps, 42 yards in losses, a safety touch and two Troy Westwood kickoffs that went out of bounds.

Oh, and a 12-point deficit, all by the midway point of the second quarter.

Little wonder, then, the boo-birds did their business all over Westwood after he hooked his first field-goal try, a 37-yarder, into the rough.

To his credit, Old Lefty rebounded to make four straight, but the message had been sent.

Westwood and Co. heard it, too, loud and clear.

"Boos to me are like butter to teflon," No. 7 was saying yesterday. "You hear it, take note of it and throw it in the garbage. I understand the fans' frustration, but it's irrelevant to what I'm trying to accomplish."

SURLY CROWD

I don't know what it is -- the 14-year Grey Cup drought, the weather, the mosquitoes -- but Bomber fans have turned into a surly bunch, quick to call for the head of an offensive co-ordinator (hello, Paul LaPolice and Ron Lancaster) or a change at quarterback (Khari, meet Kevin. Kevin, meet Tee. Tee...).

This season's bleacher bums seem to be in a foul mood rather early, and in no hurry to look for signs of progress as the team drops to 0-3.

Even Daley sounds resigned to the idea his rebuilding plan is going over about as well as a reading of War and Peace to a kindergarten class on a sugar high.

"When you're a team that has some work to do, like we do, you don't necessarily oftentimes have the support of your crowd," a matter-of-fact Daley said. "So just move on. Just play.

"Crowd support is always a difference-maker. We have not benefited from that, because people don't understand the process we're currently in, and that's fine. That's their business."

True, sports fans aren't into process. More like results. Or, at least, some promise.

Did they get that on Thursday?

If it was effort you were looking for, they did. Of course, giving it the old college try wears thinner than a pair of cheap tube socks after a few years. And this static from the stands has to be cumulative.

I mean, Bomber fans have been dragged through three rebuilding phases since this team last won a Grey Cup. Do you blame them for losing patience?

Westwood, who's been around for all three and has probably heard more boos than any Bomber the last few years, doesn't.

But he also doesn't mind asking them to rediscover it.

"We're doing everything as a team we can to go out there and win," Westwood said. "And to have the fans support you during a tough time is really helpful.

"We're all out there with our blue jerseys and our names on the back, the whole community. Please be patient with us. We will turn this thing around."

They'd better.

Or you get the distinct feeling it'll be their fans doing the turning -- on them.


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