Calgary Stampeders looking to improve on 2-3 record
It’s one of the oldest gags in the Canadian Football League’s joke book. Whenever a team struggles in Hamilton, you can bet someone will refer to the Tiger-Cats’ home park as “Never Win Stadium.”
The proper name of the building, of course, is “Ivor Wynne Stadium” and the Calgary Stampeders have actually done a better-than-average job as a road team there. A win on Thursday would give the Calgary Stampeders a final lifetime record of 21-21 at Ivor Wynne, which is slated for demolition following the 2012 season to make way for a new facility.
This final trip to the barn at Balsam and Beechwood is a nostalgic experience for several members of the Stampeders travelling party, none more so than Brent Monson. Calgary Stampeders’ running backs/strength and conditioning coach is a Hamilton native.
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“Shoot, I grew up (at Ivor Wynne),” said Monson. “I went to games as a kid and I played my high-school championship game there in Grade 12. From there, I started coaching and I coached some games there because a lot of the big high school games in Hamilton are played there. Then in rep ball, a few of the Ironmen games were played there.
“I also coached the Tiger-Cats’ kids camps when I was in university, so that was a lot of time spent there with kids. It’s kind of been like home.”
It’s somewhat of a homecoming for Stamps punter Rob Maver, too.
“That’s kind of where it all started for me,” said the Brampton, Ont., native. “I’ve played a lot of games there, snuck on there many times to practise kicking when I was a lot younger. So I know that stadium pretty well and to think this is the last time I’ll be there is a little bit crazy.”
Maver’s first visit to Ivor Wynne as a CFLer was a memorable one as he kicked a last-minute game-winning field goal in 2010 to lift the Calgary Stampeders to a victory.
“It was my first game back home because I grew up just down the road from there,” he said, “and I had the game-winner so it was a pretty good experience.
Constructed in 1928 and home of the Ticats since 1950, Ivor Wynne — originally known as Civic Stadium — is a stadium with plenty of character.
“I actually loved that stadium,” said long-snapper Randy Chevrier, a 10-year CFL veteran. “I thought it was a very intimate stadium. I guess my biggest complaint in most stadiums is that the front rows are so far from the action. As a fan, I would appreciate that dugout more than anything because you’re right into the action. You’re only about five yards from the field.
“It had some charm, right? Hamilton charm — I would say it’s a reflection of the city, and I’m saying that in a good way. It’s Steeltown for a reason.”
“It really encapsulates what Hamilton is all about,” said Maver. “The whole Steeltown mentality; a rugged, grizzled town. You kind of get that feel in the stadium. It’s a storied stadium. By no means is it the fanciest stadium but it is one of the most storied stadiums in the CFL.”
For Kevin Glenn, a 12-year vet who has plenty of experience at Ivor Wynne both as a visitor and a host, there’s no doubt about the standout feature at the stadium.
“It probably would be the fans,” he said. “It’s a very unique place to play because of where the fans are — they’re right on top of you because of those dugouts (instead of normal sideline benches). So you hear a lot of things. You try to block it out but sometimes it’s hard to block out when they’re spitting some of that stuff out — some of those lovely words that they say to the opposing team.
Stamps receiver Marquay McDaniel also once called Ivor Wynne home as a member of the Ticats.
“It’s like a classic stadium to me,” said McDaniel. “It’s old and it looks kind of grimy but at the same time, it’s big and the fans love it. It did get loud in there. It’s a good stadium. I’m pretty sure the new one is going to be way better but I had good times there.”