Each one of us walked away from Taylor Field this weekend with new memories of an old playing field.
The atmosphere was electric with the feel of a Grey Cup celebration. Even the weather was in fine form!
Fans had endured a downpour the week before this perfect night for football.
Again, unfortunately, the Saskatchewan Roughriders ran up against a bit of a wall, in an attempt to spoil the Lions march to playoffs. Can our Roughriders come up with that sixth win of the season in Vancouver?! I guess we’ll find out, soon enough.
Setting the scene!
The practice field continued its role as the pre-game meeting spot. It was filled with fans from across the Canadian Football League. Non-believers, donned their own CFL colors. Those getting a head start on Halloween, wore costumes proudly. And the rest of us, generally, just sported our favorite Roughrider gear! Lots of it! Friends met; hugged and shared memories.
In reality, where we are going is hopefully, giving the fan an even richer fan experience!
If you have only caught snippets of what is going on in Saskatchewan, here’s the deal!
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are NOT going AWAY!
Hardly! The club is moving to a new stadium!
The OLD Mosaic Stadium is beyond repair and if you don’t come to Regina very often OR, you’ve never been to an event at Mosiac, then you couldn’t understand what shape the old stadium is in. While we love her dearly, its time to end it all!!! And so it becomes a banner day for Rider Nation.
It might have seemed that the game was secondary to the other events. Fans and residents alike wondered what was going to happen after the final whistle. Such a buzz of excitement! (I figured there would be a big switch flipped.)
The last year has given people from Regina. Saskatchewan. Canada AND the world, a chance to come home and say good bye!
But, do not sit beside this lady’s death bed and wallow in tears. Rejoice in the glory that is Taylor Field.
Stories that have been dormant for years, photos that remained hidden in albums or drawers have flowed from those that have witnessed the tragedy and the glory.
There are so many memories that have been passed along through generations, some have been embellished and some have been lost in translation.
This weekend was about our individual stories. But when it came down to that final 30 minutes after the game, it was ultimately the presentation of the history of the stadium, playing field from the perspective of the organization.
Men in top coats and fedoras, car lights offering light for games in fading light. Players and fans smoking on the sidelines.
Fog. Mud. Rain. Snow and Heat. From the earliest days of fashion to what you observe now as a field of green. From “those days” all the way to Saturday night. The generations of and the evolution of the game.
We have all become the greatest fan of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and wear it like a badge of honor.
But part of the mystic, if you will, comes from the bricks and mortar – our home.
Toilets flood, the stands leak, the lights blow out. Smoke lingers under the stands! (HEY, someone lit a STINK BOMB on Saturday night in the men’s washroom.)
People squeeze into the rows, step on your feet, stand in front of you for no reason and spill their beer! YOUR BEER!
We are family and we stand together under all conditions!
And Now the End is Near
The final gun sounded, the players eventually walked off the field and the lights slowly dimmed. The sold out Mosiac Stadium then took shape of a darkened concert hall. We sat under that prairie night sky and waited for the post program to begin!
And when it did, fireworks and amazing technology took over, allowing us to walk through Taylor Field history with audience participation via our wristbands.
Football, concerts and all those other memories!
The crowning moment had to have been what most identify with: The Grey Cup.
While the Roughriders have hoisted the Grey Cup 4 times, non was sweeter than 1966 with Lancaster and Reed, a legendary friendship and a lasting legacy in Saskatchewan. George is loved wherever he travels. And no one forgets what Ronnie brought to the table. (Let’s honor Ronnie and George by naming the playing field, “Lancaster & Reed Field!)
Our George maybe worn by time, but his walk onto the field under the shroud of that retro cloak sent shivers through many of us. The thousands of adoring fans, saw what looked like a prize fighter casting a long shadow in the spotlight. But this ring was not one to fight in, it was there to be filled with love and admiration! And receive that banged and bruised hardware we all love so much, the Grey Cup!
The scene was repeated for 1989 with Roger Aldag! Representing 2007; Gene Makowsky , then finally, again under the cover of a cloak a future hall of fame player, Darian Durant!
Thank you Darian for being that leader on and off the field, a role, you perhaps have not always embraced. But it is your time to take that torch and run with it. 2016 is one week away from being done for the Roughriders.
Why not let go, just a little and take us all with you into a new era.
The lights, the show, the countdown to those final moments and then no one wanting to leave the stadium.
If you think you saw former players through the weekend, you probably did!
Taylor Field at Mosaic Stadium – you have served us well. Adios!