By Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER – Frigid temperatures greeted football fans on the Grey Cup parade route in Vancouver on Saturday, but supporters of the Calgary Stampeders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats were all aglow with confidence about which team would clinch the top prize on Sunday.
“The Tiger-Cats are going to win,” said David Gilkes. “We’re going to have a great running game. We’re going to stop Jon Cornish,” he said of the Stampeders’ running back, recently recognized by the CFL as the top football player.
“The score’s going to be 28-24 Hamilton,” said Gilkes, who has been to five Grey Cups with his wife Patty.
“We’ve got a tough Hamilton defence,” she said. “Pretty, and tough.”
Ellen and Dac Dang of Calgary weren’t having any of that, saying “it’s obvious” that the Stamps will stomp over the Ticats.
“If we can contain Mr. Banks, then we should romp all the way to the bank and win it,” Ellen Dac said of Hamilton’s returner Brandon Banks.
As for the score, Dac Dang predicted Calgary would win by a wide margin: “Maybe 30-15,” he said.
“Former B.C. Lions placekicker Lui Passaglia drew cheers as the grand finale celebrity in the parade as he and six-year-old Lucas Graham, who won a family pack of Grey Cup festivities, threw orange foam footballs to the crowd.
“Tomorrow’s game, I think, is going to be a close affair,” Passaglia said in an interview afterwards.
“Calgary’s the favourite, but I wouldn’t count out the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. They’ve come on pretty good at the end of the year, and they’ve got a pretty good chance of winning.”
Passaglia thought it would be a close game: “I’m predicting Calgary’s going to win 28-24.”
Capt. Canada and his wife Mrs. Canada, also known as Jack and Christine Hetherington of Burnaby, B.C., weren’t making any predictions about Sunday’s big game as they strolled through the Vancouver Convention Centre, where many of the Grey Cup festivities were being held.
“As Captain and Mrs. Canada, we’re totally impartial,” said Jack Hetherington, who wore a white suit and hat, along with his red Captain Canada pin, of course.
“The best team will win,” he said, standing beside “Mrs. Canada,” who was decked in a red suit and hat and a white scarf adorned with maple leafs.
“The Grey Cup is a national party. No matter what city the Grey Cup is in you’re meeting people from all over our wonderful country,” said Hetherington, who along with his wife, travels around the country on national holidays, celebrating all that is Canada.
“We like to think we’re a living embodiment of Canadian patriotism.”
B.C. Lions’ fan Lee Bohachewski of Abbotsford, B.C., wore an orange wig with her all-orange outfit in support of the home team.
“My other favourite team is the Hamilton Tiger-Cats,” she said, as her husband looked on, adding: “I don’t know about him.”
“I’ll go for Calgary,” said Rex Bohachewski, predicting a 32-14 win for the Stamps.
Fans of other CFL teams also partied the day away Saturday, with swaths of Saskatchewan Roughriders’ green outnumbering other colours in some downtown venues.
“This is our 17th Grey Cup, and our 12th in a row,” said Kevin Fenwick, who along with his wife Sherilyn, has been a life-long Riders fan. “We come every year whether the Roughriders are in it or not.
“I’m cheering for Hamilton,” Sherilyn Fenwick said.
“I’ll probably watch who scores first and then I’ll cheer for the other team,” her husband said. “I’ll cheer for the underdog.”
Cecilia Carter-Smith, a retired teacher from Hamilton, said earlier that she’s been going to football games “almost since I was hatched.”
“My dad would say, ‘I want you to feel a part of it. I want you to understand the significance of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats,” Carter-Smith said, adding she has attended at least 20 Grey Cup games.
“Canada is linked through sport and the CFL is the greatest football league in the world. The quality of players in the CFL is spectacular,” she said at a bar among fans sporting Calgary, Saskatchewan, Montreal, Edmonton and Toronto jerseys.
Carter-Smith believed the Ticats will be victorious on Sunday, as other Hamilton fans also hoped for a repeat performance of their team’s Grey Cup win against the Stamps in 1999 at B.C. Place stadium, with a score of 32-21.
Calgary last took home the Grey Cup in 2008, after triumphing over Montreal.
Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the Stamps will bring home the Cup.
“The Stampeders have had a dream season,” he said before heading to Vancouver for the big game on Sunday.
“Jon Cornish, the guy I call Mayor Johnny because he’s the real mayor of Calgary, has had this brilliant season despite missing a bunch of games because of injury. I cannot imagine the Cinderella story ending any differently. So I’m predicting Stamps by 17.”
As of Saturday night, about 900 tickets were still available, said 102nd Grey Cup Festival general manager Jamie Pitblado.
He said remaining tickets, for endzones, corners, and sidelines, were priced at either $150, $250 or $350.