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March 11, 2021

Nye: How the ’89 Grey Cup changed my life

The Canadian Press

“It’s up. It’s good!”

The famous call from the great Don Whitman on Dave Ridgway’s game winning field goal in 1989.

It was the best Grey Cup game ever.

Fight me!

The win that night at the Skydome in Toronto forever entrenched the ’89 Roughriders in the lore of Rider legends.

Bobby Jurasin, Ray Elgaard and Don Narcisse joined the ranks of Ron Lancaster and George Reed from the only other team to win the Grey Cup, 23 years earlier.

Everyone in Saskatchewan has their ‘where were you when’ story of the ’89 Grey Cup game and now that the game is on the CFL’s Grey Cup portal, I imagine it’ll be one of the most re-watched games.

My personal story means much more than just where I was. It’s now a single moment in time that I can trace to how my journey put me where I am 32 years later.

At the time I was a snot-nosed brat eight-year-old, who yelled at my brother for putting the Riders’ logo on my face backwards. Note: I was looking in a mirror at the time of this rant. The logo was fine and my brother, who now has a masters degree in fine arts did a damn good job in retrospect.

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The 1989 Saskatchewan Roughriders celebrate winning the franchise’s second-ever Grey Cup in Toronto (Photo: The Canadian Press)

We watched the game at the Colhouns on the biggest television I’d have ever seen to that point. I remember the fun, some of the big plays like Jeff Fairholm sprinting to the end zone, Tony Champion tying the game with an unbelievable catch and of course Ridgway’s kick.

But here is the thing about 1989: I was hooked.

Growing up in the ’80s I was more a fan of the Oilers’ dynasty and Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier and my big dream was to play in the NHL.

Actually, my big dream was becoming the host of Hockey Night in Canada.

But after that moment, the stick went away and the hockey cards were no longer getting requested for Christmas. No. I wanted tickets to the Riders. I wanted the programs. I wanted to know more about Bruce Boyko or Vince Goldsmith.

Instead of scoring the big goal, I was catching the big touchdown pass. I was trying to kick the football through the trees in my front yard for the game winner ala Robo-kicker.

I eventually did get season tickets so I could get tickets to the 1995 Grey Cup game.

The Canadian Football League became my No. 1 passion and as my career continued to slowly develop in the sporting world, the pull to the CFL continued.

While at 630 CHED radio in Edmonton, a lot of the wannabe sports folks wanted the Oilers’ beat. They wanted to cover the NHL. Meanwhile, I spent more time with the long-time voice of the EE Football Team, Bryan Hall, to hear his stories of Jackie Parker and Ron Lancaster and Warren Moon.

Yes, I was on enemy territory. They were referred to as the Evil Empire after all, where I grew up. But my passion for the league got me in the good graces of the programmers to put me on the field as the sideline reporter.

That experience spurred a fateful phone call in early 2009 to come home. 980 CJME needed a Rider reporter and co-host of a sports show.

Now, could I stay in Edmonton and cover the Oilers and EE Football Team or go home and cover the team I was most passionate about.

Some would call it silly to leave a much larger market, but it’s been my passion since I saw Dave Ridgway kick that ball through the uprights at an acreage outside of my hometown of Lumsden, SK.

The reason I’m writing on CFL.ca goes back to meeting a former staff member of the league on my internship at TSN and he noticed I was more interested in talking to Chris Schultz than Pierre McGuire.

So now that the ’89 game is on the Grey Cup portal I’ll watch again, as I have every time I get the chance. I’ll remember an eight-year old kid watching the parents party their butts off and without knowing it then, how much that November night in 1989 would impact this now 40-year old man.

I’d love to hear your story of that game, or your favourite Grey Cup! Hit me up @jamienye on Twitter.

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