Fans of Football: Chad

At 34, Riders fan Chad Ror’s memory bank has enough Canadian Football League entries for a lifetime.

There were the drives from Weyburn to Regina in a beat-up van, flanked by his high-school buddies; the helmets they used to wear at the old Taylor Field, and the pre-game tailgates in the Superstore parking lot.

Of course, those long-term staples were punctuated by unique moments: The heartbreak of a Grey Cup defeat, then the unforgettable triumph in the same game four years later.

Through it all — the ups and downs of more than a decade of Riders football, and more recently a shift to a new stage of life as a father — he’s bled green: 2019 will be his 13th season as a season ticket holder in Saskatchewan.

It started with a van, and four high-school buddies who decided to take the plunge on season tickets in 2007.

“We bought this red van and painted it green, put some lights and decals on it,” laughed Ror, who lives an 80-minute drive from Regina in his hometown of Weyburn. “It got us to every game for four or five years.

A 2008-quality photo of the van which shuttled Chad and co. to Riders games for five seasons. (Provided photo)

“We took it to Calgary for the ’09 Grey Cup, (and) I don’t want to talk about it, the 13th man game,” he trailed off. “Anyways, the next year we took it all the way up to Edmonton and it was barely roadworthy — we somehow took it that far and made it back home.”

An average late-2000s gameday for Chad and his trio of Riders buddies — high-school friends Devin, Dave and Jared — was an energetic time.

Chad at the 2012 Labour Day Classic in Regina. (Provided photo)

“You’d meet up with other local people, music was blaring and drinks being had, (but) we always had a sober driver (and) were never disrespectful or anything,” Chad chuckled. “Back then, everybody in Weyburn would ask ‘hey, you got room in the van,’ and it was a big party.”

The quartet’s bond has changed as its members transitioned into their 30s, but remains strong: They have served as best men and groomsmen at each other’s weddings, and still get together regularly for Riders games.

“Now, we all have families with young kids, (and) spend as much time as possible with them on gameday — so we just hit the road and come straight to the stadium,” he outlined. “Labour Day you’ve still gotta play rock, paper, scissors to see who drives, (but) we’ve slowed down immensely from the old helmet-head days.”

It’s a more refined, and dare we say engaged, approach to being a Riders fan.

(L-to-R) Jared, Chad, CBC’s Devin Heroux and Dave, during flooding in Regina. (Provided photo)

“Back in the later-aughts, if you saw half the game (and) knew what the score was when we got home we were impressed,” laughed Chad. “Now we actually sit there and break down the game, listen to the roundtable on the way home. We appreciate it more now, to be honest.”

With young son Beckett turning two later this month, he is entering a third chapter of his Rider fandom: Passing it on to the next generation.

“I’m really looking forward to taking him to his first Rider game, that’ll be a real moment for us,” he reflected.

Chad’s son, Beckett, is already locked-in as a lifelong Riders fan. (Provided photo)

Chad’s journey as a Riders fan has taken him from childhood, through his raucous early years as a season ticket holder, through to a new phase: The dad life.

“We had a lot of fun, and still do,” he said. “It’s a different level of fun now, but I wouldn’t trade a gameday for anything.

“I guess we grew up, a bit.”

Chad Ror and his friends have seats on the 20-yard line (Section 141) at Mosaic Stadium. Join them in the stands at a Riders game this season here.