Banjo Bowl or bust

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

A Riders fan with a sense of humour -- who knew?

I'm talking about a hilarious Monday morning post on riderfans.com, where banjo pickers gather to talk everything green and white.

Someone posted a photo from Sunday's game Blue Bomber game in Regina, showing backup Winnipeg quarterbacks Bryan Randall and Stefan LeFors holding up the white boards the Bombers used to signal plays to the receivers. Only in the photo, the boards didn't have play numbers on them.

Superimposed onto one was the word "Interception," while the board LeFors held up said, "Can I have my job back?"

Beautiful.

The debut of the white boards was one of several puzzling elements (what happened to the running game?) to loss No. 6 of the season, and it cost the Bombers on at least one occasion, when receiver Romby Bryant read the wrong number and didn't expect to get the ball on a reverse.

As soon as the ball hit the ground, Bryant was checking his play list and looking at quarterback Michael Bishop, like, "What the...?"

This is head coach Mike Kelly's idea of innovation?

What's next, white boards with "Heads" and "Tails" on them for the coin toss?

That screw-up before the opening kickoff, where Kelly somehow gave up the wind in the second and fourth quarters, and the ball, all in one fell swoop, should have been an omen: this was not going to be his team's day.

Sure enough, the Riders jumped all over them, early.

I wouldn't get too bummed out about it, though, Bomber fans.

I know, it's getting a little tiresome, this annual September swoon. If it weren't for the parties and the scenic drive, it'd hardly be worth the trip to the Queen City for the hundreds who go every year.

MELON HEADS

But just because it's the biggest game of the season for the melon heads in green doesn't mean the Bombers' hopes hinge on it.

Far from it.

The last time this team won the Grey Cup (ask your parents, kids), it was actually blown out, 55-11, on the Labour Day weekend.

Hell, the last three Winnipeg Cup-winners all lost that early September day in Regina.

The last time the Bombers won the Labour Day game was in 2004, a result that didn't mean much, either: Jim Daley's crew won just three of its last seven to finish 7-11 and out of the playoffs.

No, if you're looking for a potentially defining moment to a Bomber season, you're advised not to pick through the empties of another long weekend in Saskatchewan.

CLEARER GLIMPSE

Now, the Banjo Bowl rematch, that's another story.

The game played after the Labour Day weekend provides a much clearer glimpse into the soul of this football team.

Take last season, for instance.

A fourth-quarter collapse by Doug Berry's squad -- the Bombers gave up 20 unanswered points to lose, 34-31 -- signaled exactly where that team was headed.

Sure, they won a few down the stretch, thanks in large part to the horrible state of the Argos and Tiger-Cats. But come crunch time they folded like a wet paper box, wrapped up and sent packing in a home playoff game, no less.

The year before that, the Bombers avenged their Labour Day loss by spanking the Riders 34-15 -- and wound up in the Grey Cup.

See what I mean?

The previous two years were telling, too.

The '05 Bombers, with Daley's team hurtling towards a 5-13 disaster, lost the Banjo Bowl, while Berry's '06 squad, very much on the rebound, won it.

So if Kelly's crew is going to take advantage of its six home games in the second half, it has to start this Sunday.

Preferably, with the coin toss.

Assuming the coach can make heads or tails of it.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


Videos

Photos