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TORONTO – Don’t adjust your monitors folks, yes, Chad Owens was seen last week wearing a Hamilton Tiger-Cat jersey and smiling while doing so. It is going to take some time for all CFL fans to get used to seeing CO2 in Black and Gold. Not retained by Toronto, Hamilton swooped in last week and signed the 33-year-old slotback, hoping he can add another dimension to their offence while obtaining revenge on their biggest foe in the process.
Owens is not the first lynchpin of the rivalry to go to what his first team will call ‘the dark side’ and likely not the last.
In honour of Hamilton’s newest signing, CFL.ca takes a look back at some of the heroes and villains in the Toronto/Hamilton rivalry.
#9 Ricky Foley
Ricky Foley has only been on one side of the rivalry and both teams want to keep it that way. Foley made his first real impact as an Argo in the 2010 Eastern Semi-Final where he forced Kevin Glenn to the sideline with an injury for almost two quarters. Despite Glenn’s return, Foley was in his kitchen for the rest of the game as the Ticat quarterback never got back on track.
#8 Rob Hitchcock
Like Foley, Hitchcock only wore one uniform in Southern Ontario. A natural leader, a revered Hitchcock played on some well-coached Ticat football teams. The anchor of the Hamilton secondary, no. 42 was often seeing inviting crowd noise from a hostile Ivor Wynne crowd which only got angered those who made the trip from Toronto.
#7 Chad Owens
The book is still out on what Chad Owens will do in Hamilton but on top of winning an MOP and a Grey Cup with Toronto, Owens has been nothing short of a Ticat killer in his six years as the face of the franchise in Toronto. His intensity rallied the Argos and enraged Tigertown. Whether it was a one-handed catch to take the final Labour Day at Ivor Wynne or a last second winning touchdown catch during the stretch run towards the playoffs, the Ticats are hoping they can reap some of the rewards of having the Flyin’ Hawaiian on the other side of the rivalry.
#6 Leo Cahill
If Mosca terrorized opposing fan bases from the field, head coach Leo Cahill did so from the sidelines. Loved by Argo fans for his aggressiveness and loathed by Ticat fans for his brashness, Cahill was never shy to speak his mind, especially when probed on the rivalry. He didn’t like Hamilton and Hamilton didn’t like ‘Leo the Lip’.
#5 Angelo Mosca
Arguably the most polarizing figure in the league’s history, Angelo Mosca is the most revered Tiger-Cat of all time. That alone was enough to push the buttons of Double Blue supporters who starved for a Grey Cup championship while Mosca hoisted at home. The fact that Mosca played on the edge and his style of play enraged all who didn’t wear Black and Gold only infuriated Argo fans more.
#4 Adriano Belli
Who couldn’t love the ‘Kissing Bandit’? Well, any fanbase that was on the other side of the rivalry that he represented. A tenacious player who pushed the envelope made getting under the opponent’s skin his mission. A Ticat for much of the first part of his career, Belli finished with a five-year stint in Toronto, capping off his career with a Grey Cup win. With multiple fines and suspensions earned along the way, Belli’s career ended with a love-hate relationship from supporters on both sides.
#3 Arland Bruce III
Not unlike Owens right now, Arland Bruce lll was synonymous with Double Blue and him joining the dreaded Ticats was unthinkable…until it happened. A 2009 mid-season trade sent the flashy receiver to Ivor Wynne where he reversed the fortunes of the rivalry. A dominant receiver with the Argos against the Black and Gold, Bruce produced just as well with the Tiger replacing the ‘A’ on his helmet.
#2 Joe Montford
Joe Montford will always be remembered as a Hamilton Tiger-Cat. Nothing short of a menacing rush end, Montford terrorized quarterbacks throughout, specifically ones in Double Blue. No player exemplified how one should play in the annual Labour Day Classic more than Montford. In 2002, Montford traded in his Black and Gold for the unimaginable Double Blue. The fit just was never right from the start. Montford struggled in his lone season in Toronto before making his way back to Hamilton the following year where he picked up where he left off. He was one player that just wasn’t meant to be on the other side of the rivalry nor villainized by a fan base that to this day, adores no. 53.
#1 Mike OShea
It would be irresponsible to have anyone else topping this list than former linebacker Mike O’Shea. Argos fans loved him and Ticats fans loved to hate him. O’Shea was a true throwback – a hardnosed lunch-pail middle linebacker that focused on only one thing: winning and dominating the opponent while doing so. It were those qualities that made him such a fan-favourite when he began his career in Hamilton. Perhaps no player was loathed more than when O’Shea joined the Argonauts and promptly won back-to-back Grey Cups as a part of a power-house Toronto squad. You will be hard-pressed to find a player that defines the rivalry more than O’Shea.