Hamilton has surprising amount of Toronto Argonauts support in Grey Cup: poll


Published November 18, 2022 at 11:04 am

Either the last two Grey Cup defeats stung that much, or too many Toronto types have moved to Hamilton and become aware Canadian football is a thing.

Whatever the reasons, an inthehammer poll finds some Hamiltonians are willing to back the Double Blue in the Grey Cup this seekend. The national media — read: the Toronto Sports Network — reliably assures its dwindling, dying-off subscriber base that The Hammer hates all things Toronto Argonauts. After all, most of the time the hottest ticket on the Hamilton sports calendar is to the annual Labour Day Classic game between the forever rivals, where the Argonauts are taunted and booed until that five-year-old child’s throat is sore.

The Argonauts ran the East Division of the CFL this season to earn a berth in the Grey Cup, which takes place in Regina on Sunday. The two-time defending champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers are repping the West. The Blue Bombers’ back-to-back wins, sentenced around the CFL’s COVID-19 hiatus, each came at the expense of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, including an overtime decision at Tim Hortons Field.

So the question was put to the readership: which rival would you rather see win the Grey Cup? In all honesty, one would have expected, based on all the hoopla that the rivalry gets, the Argonauts to poll very poorly. The Blue Bombers were still the more popular choice at 56 per cent, or 241-of-433 votes. The Argonauts drew a respectable 44 per cent, though.

Your theory is as good any in this space.

The East is the East, even when it is being represented by the team that Hamilton supposedly cannot stand in the least. The big game on Sunday also gives veteran Toronto receiver Brandon Banks, whom not so long ago won the CFL Most Outstanding Player award, a chance to finally earn a Grey Cup ring after Hamilton went a Buffalo Bills-esque 0-4 in big games (2013, ’14, ’19, ’21) during his days donning the black-and-gold.

The Argonauts might be ready to pull another upset. The Blue Bombers are only 4½-point favourites, although they had a much better record than Toronto (15-3 to the Argos’ 11-7) in the deeper West Division. Quarterback Zach Collaros is banged-up. Bob (Knuckles) Irving, the now-retired broadcaster who has seen more Winnipeg football than anyone alive, also recently told The Bob McCown Show that these Blue Bombers are not as dominant as the ’21 team.

Toronto and quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson have nothing to lose.

In terms of how inthehammer readers feel about it, there is the recency factor of Hamilton having lost to Winnipeg twice in a row. Last December — do you have to remind people? — the Tiger-Cats were five yards away from a Grey Cup-winning touchdown in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter at Tim Hortons Field. Winnipeg made a goal-line stand, with all-star halfback Deatrick Nichols tipping a pass away from slotback from Jaelon Acklin. The Tiger-Cats settled for a field goal and overtime, where they lost 33-25.

Two seasons earlier, Winnipeg removed all doubt with a 33-12 win where Hamilton did not score a touchdown. Those wins contributed to Hamilton, probably the best supported team in the East Division, now having a 22-season Grey Cup drought, the longest in the nine-team league.

Ottawa has managed to win in that time, even though it was out of the CFL for 10 of those seasons. And Hamilton has to acknowledge that the Argonauts manage to drink from that silver cup every so often. Toronto has won thrice in this century: in 2004, ’12 and ’17 (perhaps tellingly, though, the game was held in Ontario each time).

That is decent, considering the paucity of support for Argonauts. Maybe that is the thing. Hamilton might harbour a hate-on for all things T.O., but it is hard to affix that to the Argonauts when the CFL is about the ninth-most popular sport in Toronto.

The others, in rough order: Maple Leafs games, Maple Leafs practices, Maple Leafs morning skates; the Blue Jays when they win enough for bandwagon fans to rummage for gear from 1992 and ’93; the Raptors and Toronto FC who actually have won in this century, followed by municipal decay and sprinting to work since the subway is shut down again.

Again, whatever the reasons, enjoy the Grey Cup, if you so choose. Please keep in mind that the Americans added fourth down to football; the point awarded when a missed field goal attempt is not run out of the end zone is a single, not a rouge; and the running start before the snap is called a waggle. Those receivers are slotbacks, covered by halfbacks, as Winnipeg’s Deatrick Nichols illustrated so deftly at a decisive moment one December Sunday here last year.

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