Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans take over Hamilton for Grey Cup weekend
'The Grey Cup draws people together more than anything else,' says Bombers fan Hans Stasiuk
Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans decked out in blue and gold have descended on Hamilton ahead of Sunday's Grey Cup, hoping to cheer their team to its third Canadian Football League championship win in the past four years.
Hans Stasiuk has been to nearly 40 Grey Cups and always wears his Bombers gear with pride. His first one was in 1980 when his dad took him.
"It was a good father-son bonding," he said.
It became a family tradition, and since his dad's passing, one he has continued with his own son.
For Stasiuk, the championship weekend is a time for people from all stripes to come together.
"The Grey Cup draws people together more than anything else," Stasiuk said.
"Everyone leaves their politics at home, they leave their problems at home, and they are just here to have fun and celebrate the great Canadian game of football."
The camaraderie at games is also a draw for sisters Leigh and Megan Adams, who flew in with friends from all over Manitoba.
"[It's] just being around our people," said Leigh. "Everyone's friendly, and we just like to come and just have fun. We look forward to it every year."
Their love of the game came from early days, when they would go with their dad.
"[He] was a big Bomber fan. I think he just kind of, like, passed it on to us," Megan said. "So we've been season ticket holders for, like, 20 years."
The sisters were part of a group taking in festivities Friday at Bomber House, in the Hamilton Convention Centre, where the team party headquarters are.
Quinn Adams-Sneisen, in Hamilton for her fifth Grey Cup, said she's a good luck charm for the team.
"I know they depend on me — they depend on me to cheer, and they depend on me to come here. So I will keep on coming until we carry our Grey Cup into the [sunset]," she said.
While her beloved Bombers are looking for a big win over the Montreal Alouettes Sunday, she said it's important to simply be in Hamilton to celebrate and take in all of the events happening around town.
The Grey Cup is a chance for people from all over the country to come together, no matter which CFL team they cheer for, she said.
"It's a unique Canadian tradition that I think you have to hold on to," said Adams-Sneisen. "We have to support it, and it brings the nation together."
Bombers fan John "Cooch" Couture arrived Thursday with his crew of friends who get together every year for the CFL championship game.
For him, this year's is extra special.
"It's my 50th Grey Cup since 1974," Couture said. "And the Bombers are here for my 50th Grey Cup.… I'm a very lucky guy."
Couture's jersey was decked out Friday in pins. Blue and gold bead necklaces adorned his neck, and he even had a rubber chicken attached — which he squeezes to make a noise if he sees a player "choke" during the game.
However, he's confident it won't get any use this weekend.
"You won't hear it on Sunday — no, you won't hear the chicken at all," Couture said.
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While the Bombers lost to the Toronto Argonauts in last year's Grey Cup, fans this year said Hamilton may just bring good luck.
"We're gonna beat the Alouettes," Couture said.
While Montreal has a good defence, "they won't be able to hold our offence as good as they did against Toronto."
"We'll win the game probably 35 to 16."
The Grey Cup gets underway Sunday at 5 p.m. CT.
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