“Our game is better and much faster than the Americans,” said the toothy 77-year-old retired truck plant manager as he flipped pancakes at a fan breakfast Friday. “It’s a must vacation for me, going to the Grey Cup each year.”
A native of Chatham, Ont., Addley says he’s attended 44 Grey Cups in a row – a streak that was only broken when his niece’s wedding conflicted with the big game one year.
The camaraderie at the games, from running into friends all across Canada and keeping up the rivalries between regions, is what keeps the tradition alive for fans like Addley.
“The Grey Cup is Canada-wide,” he said. “People from all the way across the country are into it.”
He still chuckles at the memory of some of his most cherished Grey Cup moments. The first was the stretch from 1954 to ’56 where Edmonton beat Montreal three years in a row. As an Alouettes fan at the time, he didn’t think he’d ever recover.
The second was the legendary 1962 Fogbowl between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium. With nine minutes left in the game, heavy fog blew in.
It was surreal, says Addley. The players couldn’t see the ball and the fans couldn’t see the players.
Finally officials decided to suspend the game and come back the next day. The Bombers went on to win it 28-27.
Addley will be rooting for a Stampeders win on Sunday.
“If we don’t, I’ll be doing a lot of crying on Monday,” he said.
More than 52,000 fans will be on hand at the Rogers Centre on Sunday, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his family.
The halftime show will feature teen idols Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen along with Canadian folk icon Gordon Lightfoot and rock group Marianas Trench.
Barry Ryan and his son Kevin, fans of the Alouettes, will attend their 16th Grey Cup on Sunday.
The 63-year-old Barry says the two go every year so they can be loud and brash football fans, but also catch up with their Grey Cup family. “We get to see the same people every year,” said Ryan, who now lives in Toronto. “Everybody’s friendly. It doesn’t matter who you’re cheering for, we all have good humour about it.”
Dressed in matching maroon jumpsuits covered in CFL game patches and pins, the Ryans say their favourite Grey Cup moment came in 2009 in Calgary when Montreal beat Saskatchewan by scoring on a field-goal attempt that was awarded to the Alouettes after the Roughriders were called for too many men on the field.
“Those Rider fans went from very high to very low – fast,” Barry chuckled.
Allan Zimmer, his wife and 28-year-old daughter are season ticket holders who regularly make a 3 1/2-hour drive from their home in Inglis, Man., to see the Winnipeg Blue Bombers play.
This 100th anniversary game is their seventh Grey Cup, and one the family has been planning to go to for years.
“Look around at all the fans,” said Zimmer. “The CFL is quite alive. It’s growing. We love it because it’s just a unique game.”