Ex-Bombers expect rough ride from fans

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:57 PM ET

When the Saskatchewan Roughriders landed in Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon, about a dozen fans wearing green and waving flags cheered them on as they rode down the escalator.

If you didn’t know who Canada’s Team was before, you do now.

“I think that’s a first for me,” head coach Ken Miller said after the Riders arrived at their downtown hotel. “It was really cool. It was pretty special.”

Barrin Simpson isn’t expecting the same kind of reception on the east side of Canad Inns Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Roughriders middle linebacker spent the past four seasons in Winnipeg but had a tumultuous final year in which he clashed with head coach Mike Kelly and defensive co-ordinator Mark Nelson over playing time, and challenged the club when it tried to put him on the nine-game injured list.

When Simpson asked for and received his release in December, many fans said good riddance.

They believed he put himself ahead of the team and should have accepted his new role.

He therefore knows he’s going to hear it during the Banjo Bowl.

“I expect nothing less than them to heckle the crap out of me,” Simpson said with a huge smile. “I love that part. I thrive off stuff like that. I always enjoyed dealing with the fans like that.

“I love playing at home, but I equally love playing on the road, getting those heckling fans. That’s going to be fun.”

Simpson had a monster game against the Bombers last week in the Labour Day Classic, and he should be even more pumped up for this one.

“Man, I’m excited,” Simpson said. “As you see, I’m cheesing from cheek to cheek. I’m looking forward it. I’m excited. I’m going to try to bring some energy to our team and keep them excited so we can go out there and get a win.”

Another longtime ex-Bomber who will be making his first trip back to Canad Inns on Sunday is former head coach Doug Berry, now the Riders’ offensive co-ordinator.

“Driving down Portage today, I had a lot of memories,” said Berry, who was canned after the 2008 season and replaced with Kelly. “I have a lot of fond memories of my time here.”

Berry also expects to get the gears from fans on Sunday.

“Most likely,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s one of those things where hearing and listening are two different words. I’m sure I’ll hear them, but will I be listening? Probably not.”


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