Sunday, November 15, 2009
Bleeding Tricolour: Yates Cup Champions!
After a 31 year Yates Cup drought (a stat made all the less impressive by a stint outside Ontario), Queens has finally put their name back on the oldest football trophy in North America, and the win came in the most epic of circumstances a 43-39 win over rivals Western Mustangs.
But you can go read about the actual game over at the CIS Blog and various Mainstream Media sources, so instead I'm going to go through what was a sports experience (WARNING: lame cliché) I will never forget.
Facebook has revolutionized pre-game arguing, chirping and all around enjoyment. Ever since the Yates Cup page on facebook was made after the win over McMaster last week which took Queens to the final there was back and forth not so politically correct debate between Western, and Queens fans with even a few players chipping in with thoughts of their own. This facebook group was then expanded to another called "YATES CUP ETIQUETTE... The duty of the 13th man". This group had three simple rules:
There is nothing worse than having homefield advantage and having it work to your disadvantage. For the big game this weekend please keep in mind these three rules as the thirteenth man.
1. DO NOT CHEER WHEN THE OFFENCE IS IN THE HUDDLE, AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE, OR DURING THE CADENCE.
2. CHEER YOUR FACE OFF WHEN THE DEFENCE IS ON THE FIELD, WHEN THE BALL IS IN PLAY, OR WHENEVER THE OTHER TEAM'S OFFENCE IS TRYING TO DO ANYTHING.
3. WHEN IN DOUBT, WATCH BIG MATT O'DONNELL AND DO WHAT HE TELLS YOU TOO.
Follow these rules and Western's gonna wish they never got on that big purple bus. Believe it.
When facebook speaks the crowd follows as was evident even from Friday afternoon.
My Friday started with a radio Yates Cup Preview show in which I predicted Queens to win 42-38... not too shabby. Then walking through Queens campus seeing the smashed purple car, and last year's star linebacker Thaine Carter pumping up the crowd while selling "Puke up, Drink Up, We Want the Yates Cup" t-shirts. The scene was set.
On game day I headed down to the field early and participated in the good old Canadian football tradition. The "non-alcoholic tailgate". Along with my classic "Wuck Festern" sign, we ate lots of meat, got into a little bit of banter with some Purple Ponies, and generally enjoyed ourselves. Finally it was time to jam into a packed Richardson (announced attendance was 7,253 which for Kingston sports crowds is very impressive).
The game kicked off on the wrong foot, but soon enough we were up and celebrating Dan Brannagan's eighty-five yard completion for the first of his five touchdowns in the air. The atmosphere had kicked off on the students' side immediately, but the alumni side waits usual quiet self, with the aforementioned rules somewhat being ignored as the biggest cheers seem to come while the offense was on the field.
As the game hit halftime Queens had a 26-17 lead as close as anyone had been to dominate at any point in the game. At this point was one of the lamest halftime shows in the history of sports where a band called USS played in a small stage only visible to the cheerleaders, band and a small portion of the students' side. Had I not known there was going to be a halftime show I wouldn't have even noticed this small distraction off to the side.
As the second half kicked back off Western started to take control again, but the Queens defense had managed to stop Nathan Riva through some absolutely incredible plays by the whole defensive line, particularly Shomari Williams who showed why he is the best defensive end in the country.
Despite Michael Faulds connecting for over 500 yards, the run defense coming up big in several situations really helped save the game on several opportunities. After Brannagan drove down the field to put Queens into the lead for one last team the defense came up big to really win the game.
In this last Western drive the alumni side finally came to life and it was louder than I can ever remember it being. With Matt O'Donnell doing his part to make sure it happened, as always. Western's last drive was about as dramatic as it could get with the silence from the crown after Faulds got hurt thinking "could this be it", to the boos when he returned for the final play hobbling out with only one working knee. The feeling of euphoria when Faulds missed that last pass really is a perfect example of the reason we all get so emotionally invested in sports. For brilliant moments like that one.
Seconds later the clock ran out and it was followed by mass celebrations as it seemed the entire stands emptied in a matter of milliseconds as we all somehow found ourselves on the field. The players were exhausted but clearly ready to celebrate. High fiving, and hugging everyone in sight. Those next few minutes on the field were those of pure jubilation. Seeing Brannagan later awarded Yates Cup MVP, and seeing the Yates Cup itself being presented was the icing on the cake of a fantastic event.
Bring on Laval!