Let’s face it. Ottawa football fans are as die-hard as they come. The fanbase has experienced a few incredible highs, interspersed between a number of lows over the past 50 years.
I feel an incredible pang of pride when I think about that day in November 2016 when our team improbably won the Grey Cup, as a double-digit underdog. I took my kids on the road to that game, explaining to them while we were on the drive to Toronto that we had to support our team even though it was unlikely we would win.
No matter the record of our team, or the score on the board, one thing the die-hard Ottawa REDBLACKS/Renegades/Roughrider fans can count on is that the friendly rivalry between the fans on the Northside and the Southside of our stadium is an integral part of the experience, and of the fabric of this team.
As a season ticket holder for the REDBLACKS from Day 1 (full disclosure: I’m a Southsider), I feel an enormous affinity for my tribe. The unparalleled joy that it brings to us in Section QQ when one of our own ambles down the field and splays themselves on that wet plastic after spinning around the dizzy bat for a couple of minutes ahead of their cross-field Northside rival, is priceless.
Truly, what experience can one have that matches watching Mr. Shoe Beer? This guy really caught the public imagination from his seats in Section UU of the South Side. Every single game, he’d show up in some crazy outfit and in the 3rd quarter, he’d pour a beer into a shoe, boot or whatever footwear he had and guzzle it down to the roar of the crowd. He did that schtick for the first five years of the REDBLACKS’ time here in Ottawa. Legend.
I have great friends that are dyed-in-the-wool Northsiders, and they would never dare to sit on the Southside with the rest of our friends. Their roots have grown under the seats in Section D.
We haven’t quite figured out yet where the loyalties lie among the Log Cabin crowd; I suppose they are in the midst of creating their own tribe to rival ours. We will see what happens when the North vs South contests begin this season – perhaps we will give those folks their own piece of wet blue plastic in the endzone, so we can all revel in the competitive experience of Dizzy Bat.
CAA has taken the mantle of the sponsor of North vs South this year, and we will add to the experience with flags, t-shirts, and other giveaway prizes for the Northsiders and the Southsiders to wear and wave proudly.
This REDBLACKS season promises to be one of the best at Lansdowne. We have our quarterback back, we have our North vs South back, and I am certain we will continue to have a whole lot of fun.