What is Operation Orange…? (Cont’d)
The bus ride to the stadium was relatively quiet. The players on my bus were obviously well into game mode so there was little chatter or banter. When we got to that idyllic spot on the mountain with the McGill University campus where the stadium is situated, we discovered that we had about an hour before we could go in to watch them go through their pre-game warmup routines. So in that interim I decided to walk down one of the streets on the McGill campus and search out our Presbyterian College. Even though it was Friday afternoon I hoped that someone at PC would be available to answer a couple of questions. I also thought it would be nice to finally see inside the newly refurbished chapel; maybe even meditate for a while or at least ponder a life that might have been lived had I gone to McGill straight out of Grade XII. When I got there, sure enough there was one keen member of the administrative staff still deeply involved in her tasks. Taking a few minutes away from her desk, the individual gave me some needed advice on the main problem I posed, and then let me into the Chapel. It is a very beautiful site and creates a most peaceful setting and it did inspire me to reflect and ponder for about half an hour…sometimes it is good just to sit and ask yourself all kinds of questions, even if there are really no immediately helpful answers.
I returned to the stadium in time to be ushered inside the field perimeter to our end zone location to watch and almost feel the warmup. When the big boys are running, the ground tends to quiver if not full out quake!! Getting down at field level also gives you a better perspective on just how fit these players are, especially when you watch them work through their warm-up drills. The most amazing are the offensive and defensive linemen – they may be massive, but they can move and flex and high step and generally do things with their bodies that I thought was the purview of high school cheerleaders. Simply put, they are amazing and I only can dream of even wishing I ever could have been in that kind of physical shape.
During this preliminary period inside the stadium I was also permitted to circle round to the local English-language radio broadcast booth above the north side bleachers. When I had seasons’ tickets for the Alouettes (2006-2013) my seats were right in front of this booth (had a tremendous view of the city and beyond to the Eastern Townships) and when the guys learned I had been a sports broadcaster in college we struck up a dynamic friendship. In fact, whenever there was a controversial play on the field, I would stand up and turn around and they would shift one of their monitors so I could see the replays. It was a fun time. Coming back this time with the Lions, while they were surprised to see me they were not surprised I was wearing Lions’ colours. We chatted about a number of things including traffic and the building of the new Champlain Bridge (which I saw while riding back to the plane on the bus later that night) and of course football. Rick Moffat is a good radio broadcaster, very knowledgeable but also not full of himself. Thus the conversations are always informative and yet sprinkled with laughter and hypothetical bets.
It was a nice prelude to the game before returning to the field and then to my seat which was on the upper tier on the southside section of the stadium about the forty yard line behind the BC Lions bench. While initially I thought it would be great to sit behind the bench (where such visiting groups usually do), in the end these were much better as we had a great view of all the play-making at both ends along with the middle of the field. Moreover, there were a good number of BC fans from Québec and nearby Ontario & the USA in the area creating a very supportive feeling – every time we cheered, everyone else in the area was cheering as well!!
The game itself was mostly exciting – the Als even took the lead at one point – thankfully not for long!! The injury to Lulay (the starting qb) could be costly but Jennings did a respectable job in relief and helped win the game. In the first half it was primarily a defensive game although Montréal did hold a five minute edge in time of possession. The second half was a much different story and by the fourth quarter the time of possession had swung to BC’s advantage, at about five minutes; basically this meant we can controlled the ball over ten minutes more. Then in the last three minutes of the game two interceptions were returned for touchdowns sealing the win – I’m not sure I’ve ever seen two pick sixes happen on consecutive drives (certainly not for a team I was cheering for!!) so that was neat. The end of the game was a very joyous time and several of the players came out to meet family and friends from Québec!! It was actually a bit surprising to see how many people were there in BC Lions’ colours.
About an hour after the game we were all on the buses and heading back to St. Hubert Aeroport (which is basically an industrial airport as Pratt & Whitney has a significant factory & service centre there which includes undertaking a good deal of jet engine testing at that site). The bus ride was very jovial with lots of banter. It is very nice to win!!