It was a perfect way for the Grey Cup to celebrate Family Day; by spending it with members of the Argo family.
Canada’s cherished football chalice is making the rounds, spending time with 109 season ticket holders who were lucky enough to have been selected to visit with the trophy. The 109 is representative of this year’s 109th Grey Cup win.
The Cup made a dozen stops in Durham Region on Monday, with Rob Richardson – Argos Assistant Manager of Ticket Sales and Service – acting as the trophy’s chaperone.
He’ll be the keeper of the Cup for all 109 visits and is loving the opportunity to share the Argos good fortune with some of the team’s most die-hard supporters.
“It’s really rewarding to bring the Cup to the fans,” Richardson told Argonauts.ca. “It’s very cool to bring it to people’s homes and places of work, just seeing how excited they are. It’s incredible.”
Some 50 people gathered at The Thirsty Jester in downtown Whitby for breakfast and a chance to take pictures with the Cup. The host of the trophy’s third stop of the day was Stacy Beggs, who spread the news about the visit via Facebook.
“I’ve been a really serious fan since 1991, but I don’t remember my dad not watching the CFL,” he told Argonauts.ca after the Cup had left the bar. “It was my first year playing football (with the Oshawa Hawkeyes). Mike “Pinball” Clemons, “Rocket” Ismail, John Candy, Wayne Gretzky; it was a phenomenal year.”
With over 30 years of watching the Argos in seasons both good and bad, being able to celebrate the 2022 championship with friends and have the Grey Cup present was a bit overwhelming to Beggs.
“It means a lot; it touches you right in the heart.”
The Durham tour would make six more stops before finding its way to MultiCorp Office Services Inc., located in southeastern Whitby. It was there that owners Christine and Glen Smith greeted Earl Grey’s trophy with an awesome February tailgate party, attended by roughly 100 people.
“It was a little surreal,” a smiling Christine Smith told Argonauts.ca after the Cup had left for its next visit.
The Smiths have been season ticket holders for roughly 30 years, and over that span they’ve become great friends with many other fans, particularly those who tailgate with them in the south parking lot before each game.
They welcomed the Grey Cup and some of those friends with a mid-winter tailgate on Monday. It was in part to honour the late Argo fan whose passion for the Double Blue helped turn them into superfans.
“It all started with our buddy Steve Siuta, who got us all involved,” Glen Smith explained. “A whole pile of people who were here today are from the tailgate that we do every home game. It was just cool to do it in February. Who has a tailgate in February?”
Argo fans, that’s who. But that’s what this campaign has done, it’s brought friends and family together in the middle of the off-season and allowed them to celebrate the championship while also remembering those who would have loved to have been a part of the festivities.
The Cup had two more stops to make after leaving the tailgate and subsequent indoor photo shoot. The 12 stops in one day have been the norm for Richardson, who has made as many as 15 visits in a day.
He’s also getting a good tour of the province.
“The furthest north we’ve been is Parry Sound, Port Carling, Bracebridge,” he recalled. “We’ve been here in Durham in the east and we’re going just past Kitchener in the west.”
Yes, Argo fans are loyal, but Richardson noted they’re also ruthless.
“The last stop will be on Friday, just down the road from Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton. They’re going to bring the Cup to the field and take pictures just outside the stadium with about 40 people.”
Richardson is hoping he’ll have an opportunity to do it again in 2024, adding one more visit to the 109 celebratory stops he’ll make this year.