BY DAN MCNEE
Well, hello there; by gar, it’s been awhile!
I have completed my travels of this great nation of ours and returned back to its very core, its centre, its heart. And while Fordwich is where my liver will reside forever, North Perth is certainly where my heart is.
It is good to be on staff here at The Banner once again and I’d like to thank my superior officers for having me back. It was a somewhat humiliating process though.
Have you ever seen The Simpsons episode where Homer must return to the power plant and ask Mr. Burns for his job back? I, too, had to crawl through the supplicants’ door on my hands and knees and plead with Bill to give me another shot. He did, of course, but not before recording it and posting it on YouTube. Whenever I close my eyes, I can still see him pointing and laughing at me.
I left The Banner what seems like four long years ago to try my fortune out west. While no fortune was to be found, I did have some interesting experiences and befriended some amazing people, most of which came from my time working as a groundskeeper at McMahon Stadium. And since I have taken over the sports department here, it’s only befitting that I share with you a couple of sports related “adventures” I had in the last few years.
Some more loosely related than others. Anyway…
August 2009. Two friends and I had exited Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton after taking in the Eskimos-Stampeders game. We were approached by a large group of Edmontonians, who asked us if we could spare a cigarette.
Being the Good Samaritan I am, I was more than happy to comply (yes I’m still a smoker, but not for long, I swear). After doing so and in the midst of having a chat with one of the fellows, the last of their group caught up and proceeded to sucker-punch me in the face and then run away up the street. The guy I was talking to cheerily informed me, “Don’t worry, he does that all the time.”
I never returned to Edmonton.
November 2009. McMahon Stadium and the city of Calgary are hosting the Grey Cup. The Saskatchewan Roughriders have the Montreal Alouettes on the ropes. Montreal has just missed the roughly 45-yard field goal that would have given them the game and the championship.
Our stadium – largely filled with exuberant, drunken Saskatchewan fans – explodes with an excitement that is drastically short-lived. There is a flag on the play. Too many men on the field for the Roughriders, resulting in a 20-yard penalty.
That exuberance turns to rage towards what will forever be known as The 13th Man in Saskatchewan football lore.
The Al’s get a second shot and kick it through the uprights with ease to win the Grey Cup. I was standing in the north end zone with a couple of co-workers when the Pilsner beer cans and watermelon helmets begin to rain down on the field.
I was very fortunate to return home from work uninjured, let alone alive that night.
April 2012. Atlantic City, New Jersey. It’s the night before game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Devils and my beloved Flyers. I was finally going to see my boys play on home ice in neighbouring Philadelphia the next day, and so to celebrate, my traveling companion and I decided to take in some gambling and spirits at some of the local casinos.
(The bulk of this story has been self-edited for content, ridiculousness and general taste)
The long and short of it, I would end up diving into the marina behind the Golden Nugget in my briefs after a truant iPhone.
I managed to retrieve the phone. Oh, and Philly won in overtime.
I hope that wasn’t too overwhelming for my first column back. I look forward to sharing more experiences and opinions with you here in my space in the sports section.
And while the name of the column has changed slightly, I promise to bring up quality issues affecting both the local and professional sports worlds. And perhaps from time to time, some more of my experiences not necessarily playing sports (excluding my favourite Fordwich slo-pitch team, of course), but the general ridiculum that seems to happen to me when I take in sporting events.
Until then, see you on the ice, the court and the field, and I’ll do my very best to make you famous – at least on a local scale.
Thanks for reading Banner Blitz, and I’ll see you back here in a fortnight.