Events passed, mem­o­ries held, com­mu­nity shared

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - SPORTS - EVAN RAD­FORD

It was a funny thing to watch: The Tay­lor Field west grand­stand top­pled over as City of Regina crews de­con­structed the re­main­ing up­per seat­ing sec­tions at the his­toric site.

I found the event it­self rather an­ti­cli­matic and un­in­ter­est­ing.

But what I can’t stop look­ing at is that gi­ant, gap­ing hole now in Regina’s sky­line.

Once the an­chor-point for my eyes when­ever I scanned the prairie city, the metal-clad box with its al­ways-open up­per mouth is now ab­sent, mak­ing Regina’s sky seem a bit wider.

As if want­ing to fill the void, I can’t help but re­play some of my fond­est mem­o­ries from Tay­lor Field.

One leads to an­other, how­ever dis­con­nected they may be.

Shuf­fling along with hoards of shiv­er­ing foot­ball fans on the up­per level as we all col­lec­tively made our way to the bath­room at half­time breaks of Roughrid­ers games.

Com­mit­ting the names Kent Austin and Tom Burgess to me­mory – they’re the first two quar­ter­backs I saw throw passes for the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers.

Ar­riv­ing to Rid­ers’ games and anx­iously wait­ing to see if our voucher-pass tick­ets would land us near to or far from the al­ways loud and some­times funny drunks in the 200-num­bered sec­tions.

Look­ing down on that green turf, yearn­ing for a chance to maybe, one day, run on it.

Fear­ing I was about to freeze to death as I watched the Stal­lions de­mol­ish the Stam­ped­ers at the 83rd Grey Cup, watch­ing from the high­est row of the temporary south stands. That ice wind blasted my face like never be­fore.

My first foot­ball play on the field: I was a lanky, grade 10, third-string cor­ner­back. Coach put me in for kick­off du­ties as the widest player on the right side. “Keep con­tain, keep con­tain,” I re­minded my­self as I hus­tled down field for a po­ten­tial tackle.

Scrap­ing my knees and el­bows on the old, sand-pa­per-like turf while mak­ing tack­les as a starter in grade 11.

Wear­ing the scabbed-over wounds the next day as badges of pride. We lost ev­ery game we played that year.

Play­ing full­back my se­nior year and throw­ing a hel­met-to-hel­met lead block on the Martin Monar­chs’ mid­dle line­backer at the goal line. We both fell to the turf. My run­ning back scam­pered through the hole for a touch­down. I was so happy.

Shar­ing the highs and lows of the fickle Roughrid­ers with my loved ones.

Watch­ing my dad turn into a kid at Rid­ers games – he’s al­ways the loud­est one cheer­ing on their de­fence.

Rel­ish­ing the con­sis­tency with which the Roughrid­ers never, ever let a B.C. Lions quar­ter­back find suc­cess at Tay­lor Field.

Walk­ing the long, chilly trek back to our car as we re­counted the game, what was and what could have been.

Sit­ting at mid-field as the Rams bat­tled the Huskies while thick, heavy snow fell onto the turf, mak­ing it a white blan­ket. Crews busily shov­elled snow clear ev­ery five yards. “I love this prov­ince,” I thought to my­self.

Cheer­ing wildly as Dar­ian Du­rant ran in the game-win­ning touch­down, six yards, in over­time against the Edmonton Eski­mos. It was the high point of an oth­er­wise for­get­table sea­son.

Shar­ing the heart­break of a medi­ocre, lack­lus­ter Roughrid­ers’ loss with my nephew, hop­ing he’ll get a chance to see the other way the team is ca­pa­ble of play­ing

As I look back on time spent and mem­o­ries had at Tay­lor Field, I’m left with grat­i­tude.

I’m grate­ful for the sense of com­mu­nity, the bond­ing and the shar­ing that the cob­bled-to­gether struc­ture af­forded me.

I hope that the city’s new sta­dium will af­ford other kids those same re­wards.

They’ll stand much longer than any metal and con­crete struc­ture.

So long, Tay­lor Field. You will be missed and re­mem­bered.

DON HEALY/REGINA LEADER-POST

Dar­ian Du­rant was one of a select few Roughrid­ers to have his im­age hung on a ban­ner at the now-de­mol­ished Tay­lor Field west grand­stand.

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