As Father’s Day approaches I’ve been thinking about the strong bond between football and fathers. Many football fans were introduced to the game by their dads or grandfathers, so this day holds some added significance for those who love the game. I asked you over social media how your father influenced your love of the game and I was absolutely FLOODED with messages. I have shared many with you below, starting with my own.
A fixture in the Hamilton football scene my great-grandfather C.C. Lawson was the owner of the Hamilton Wildcats through the 1940s and helped engineer the merging of the Hamilton Tigers and the Hamilton Wildcats to become the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1950. My grandad played for the Ticats way back in the day (’43 Grey Cup champ) and always had season tickets. My family owned a lumber yard a few blocks away from Ivor Wynne where we would always park. My first Tiger-Cats game with my dad and my grandad I can remember parking at the lumber yard and walking over to the stadium completely bundled up. My dad would make me wear rain pants and a turtleneck and layer upon layer of clothes, which as a young girl I was never super into because it was not, I repeat, NOT cool. I can remember being curious and amazed by the gameday outfits of the people around Grandad’s seats. These people loved their Cats and their outfits proved that each and every game. From the guy with 100+ CFL pins stuck to his bucket hat, to the black and gold uniform worn by another who would quietly listen to the game on the radio the whole time. These were my first memories of the Canadian Football League. I am so thankful for my grandad and especially my dad for encouraging my love of this amazing game. Their passion and excitement was infectious, so infectious that it stuck with me as a teenager and into university where after graduating I started an internship with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. This eventually led me to my dream job, working for the league I love and connecting daily with people who love it too. I am the forth generation from my family involved with the league, which unlike the rain pants, is pretty cool. Thank you to my dad for instilling a strong love and adoration of three down football, it’s taken me places I could never have imagined.
“My dad, Gino, was the first one to introduce me to the game of football. Whether it was a Hamilton Tiger-Cats game, a Buffalo Bills game, or whatever game was on that Sunday, football was on the TV at my house growing up. My dad helped me learn and helped me fall in love with the game that I get to watch as a job now! I can’t exactly remember what year I went to my first Ticats game but we’ve made it a tradition to always go to the Labour Day Classic in Hamilton together. Love you dad, Happy Fathers Day! :)”
“My dad was the reason I started loving football and pursued it long term. He won a Vanier Cup at Acadia and I saw his championship photo on his home office wall everyday where I kept my equipment. Then he had season tickets to the Argos (even though we were closer to the Cats being from Burlington) and watching the Canadian three down game in person every week increased my love of for the CFL. Ultimately influencing me to football over hockey and lacrosse and pursue USports football as my passion; I hoped to replicate my dads success, but this time at Concordia. When he signed me up for minor football at the age of 6, he taught me positional responsibilities with checker pieces. He taped the name of each position on the back of the piece showing one team as red and the other team as black. Then he moved them around simulating plays. It’s one of my earliest and fondest memories of him teaching me football. This photo was after my last home game. He flew from work in Saskatchewan on a Friday night to surprise me.”
“My dad is the reason I love sports in general but definitely football and hockey. He’s now passed but his favourite team was the Stamps (we lived in Calgary for many years) and favourite player was Henry Burris. I got to meet Henry a few years back at the Grey Cup and we had a nice chat (what a special guy) about my dad – great moment. My dad would explain the game to me when I was younger and watch games beside me. I now have a season ticket and go in both his honour and our love for the game. Dads rule!”
“I wanted to just share with you how my father was a huge role model in my football career. My first sport was soccer. My father trained me and travelled with me through all of my years playing ages 4-18. I always knew I wanted to be a professional athlete, so I believed in myself that I could do that. I was on the Sask Soccer team for many years and the RTC team. When I was 17 I travelled to Jamaica to pursue my professional soccer career. I made the u18 team with Tivioli Gardens FC and proved to the GM I could play with the seniors as well. I was waiting for my contract and there happened to be a political uproar in the community where I was supposed to play. I ended up not going back there. I tried out the next year in Milton Ontario with the CSL league and ended up making a good impression. Then I got a call saying I made the team but the div 1 team folded. I then traveled with my father all over the US for open tryouts with MLS teams. I had nothing come from those but my father believed in me. I couldn’t have gone so far without him. I had played football in high school starting in Grade 11 to fill in for someone who was hurt, and after that I switched from soccer to football and played in Ottawa with the Sooners for four years and then with the Carleton Ravens for the first year as a starting kicker for all five years. My father believed in me and supported me financially as much as he possibly could. He and my family are my heroes and I would do anything for him and for them. I am a prospect for the Montreal Alouettes and I hope to sign with the team next month! My father honestly gave me everything to pursue what I wanted in life. He always stayed positive and pushed me and my brother the farthest we could mentally and physically. He shows me what discipline and perseverance is.”
“My dad took me to my first Argos game back in the 90s (the Pinball years). Crazy about football ever since. Took it all the way to being the Stamps new video assistant.”
“My first memory of the CFL was Grey Cup Sunday. I remember my parents hosting a GC party for all of their friends and family who were immigrants to Canada, including themselves. What I take from that early memory was a love for the game and what it meant. Love for friends and family, football and the country which was their new home.”
“My wife bought me my first Father’s Day gift shortly after my son was born from the Bombers store (Bomber coffee mug, bumper sticker, hat, gift card and tickets to the game) I absolutely fell in love with the game and haven’t missed a game since! My son was born in 2006!”
“My grandpa was the one who introduced me to football. My family and I were in Saskatoon visiting my Grandparents and we had a massive party watching the Riders vs. Bombers back in 2007. We made a cake, half blue, half green, which we would add chocolate chips that represented the score. My grandpa taught me all the rules which of course meant cheering for the Riders. I live in Manitoba so my family back home wasn’t too thrilled. It gave us both something to talk about and bond over. I am forever grateful for all he has taught me about the CFL because it’s where my passion is. Him and I will always share the same love for CFL football! Cheers!”
“My dad is the whole reason I am the football fan I am today. It’s because of him that I bleed Rider green, that I know the words to the Rider song, that I travel to Hamilton, Ottawa and Montreal to see them play and that we have season’s tickets to the Argos. He’s my partner in crime and my game buddy for as long as I’ve lived – in fact my mom was pregnant with me when the Riders won the Grey Cup in ’89. His motto is ‘Football is Life’ which I used to roll my eyes at – but everyday I see that it’s what’s made our life together so close and enriched. This photo is of my dad and his sister from the 2007 Grey Cup (which the Riders won of course!)”
“My dad was at my first game when I was 8 and it was contact. I was scared so I was crying and told him I had a headache and he told me if I was too scared to play than I couldn’t play anymore. I ended up playing and having a good game and that was the last time I was scared.”
“My dad put me in football when I was 10 and from that day to graduating high school he not only didn’t miss a game rain or shine he didn’t miss a practice either. Deciding to stay home and play university was such an easy decision because him watching me play at that level meant as much to me as playing myself. It’s definitely mine and his bond and anything football related will always make me think of all the time, energy, and money he sacrificed to see me play and succeed.”
“My first Stamps game – kids section at the North end of McMahon. Old schoolyard bleachers and stale popcorn! Loved it!”
“My dad played a huge part in my love for the game of football especially the CFL. Took me to my first game back in 1962 when I was 6. A playoff game between Winnipeg and Calgary – the Bombers won and went to the Grey Cup. Took me to many games and bought me Bombers season tickets when I was older. He still loves and watches the CFL game at 88 years old. Say’s there’s finally something to watch now that the season has begun. This is my 19th season working in the CFL and he’s a big reason why I am here. He’s very proud his son is in the CFL which I find so cool.”
“Dad bled the Black ‘n’ Gold of the Tiger Cats. I used to watch as a kid, then swap house’s as adults before he passed. So fun!”
“My dad came to Canada in 1957. Became a Ticats fan immediately, games on radio, trips to Ivor Wynne games on CBC tv passed it on to his sons.”
“My dad still loves the game at 76, but it was my Mom who instilled the love of football. Taking me to great Stamps games vs Esks and Riders.”
“Dad use to be an Eskimos season ticket holder, we moved to Calgary where I now have season tickets and he still only goes to Esks games.”
“It was my dad bringing me to the 1991 super cold grey cup in Winnipeg when I was 8.”
Follow your favourite players and coaches after the whistle!