‘The Boys’

A love for foot­ball and their favourite team runs deep

More of Our Canada - - Con­tents - By Doug Mc­beth, Kanata, Ont.

It’s Tra­di­tion

We called our­selves “The Boys.” We were ten-strong, 18 years old and in­vin­ci­ble. The place was the Rex­dale dis­trict of Toronto, 1971. Septem­ber brought that cool tinge to the air—foot­ball weather. On week­ends, we played tackle foot­ball with no equip­ment. In­juries were mi­nor. We played in the open field right be­hind our homes, at a lo­cal park or the high school field.

Of course our favourite CFL team was the Toronto Arg­onauts. We at­tended games at CNE sta­dium or watched them on TV.

Novem­ber was play­off month, semi­fi­nals. Soon Grey Cup day was upon us. We all met, rain or snow, to play one last time. We had to throw the ball around to set the mood be­fore the big game. I think each one of us se­cretly dreamed we could be in the shoes of one of those CFL play­ers per­form­ing in the Grey Cup.

Af­ter our out­ing, it was off to our buddy Red­wood’s house to watch the Grey Cup game. He had the space, and his par­ents agreed. We drew num­bers out of a hat to win the pot for the fi­nal score and we snacked, drank beer and cheered all evening. I don’t know how his par­ents put up with the racket!

One by one, the boys got mar­ried but they still showed up at the an­nual Grey Cup party, thanks to the grace of their thought­ful wives. Af­ter Red­wood got mar­ried and moved away, we had to hold the party at who­ever’s home could be of­fered up.

I left for Ot­tawa in the ’90s, but there still re­mained a faith­ful core who would get to­gether and keep the tra­di­tion alive.

Seven years ago, af­ter an Argo’s team prac­tice, I pre­sented then coach Jim Barker and the Argo team with a two-by-three­foot pic­ture frame, fea­tur­ing a poem about the ori­gins of the Argo name. It was de­rived from Greek mythol­ogy—the Argo was the ship on which Ja­son and the Arg­onauts sailed to re­trieve the Golden Fleece.

Founded in 1873, the Ar­gos are the old­est ex­ist­ing pro­fes­sional sports team in North Amer­ica still us­ing their orig­i­nal name. The Ar­gos also hold the record for most Grey Cup vic­to­ries, with 17. n

Doug with the Toronto Arg­onauts; (in­set) “The Boys“watch­ing the game in ‘74.

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