I didn't think the first time I walked into this place, that it and the team which occupies it would play such a role in my life.
I guess maybe when I ran around my house crying after the 1972 Grey Cup because Ian Sunter and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats had ruined my 6th birthday by beating the Riders, I should have known. That green and white bug had bitten me and as we know, there is no cure in this province once that bug bites you. I don't know when exactly I made my first trip to the then Taylor Field, but my first memory was sitting in Section 26 having watched Bill Baker decimate both Bruce Lemmerman and Tom Wilkinson in a 40-0 Riders win over those hated Eskimos. I remember going to that first game and just being in awe of not only watching the likes of Ronnie and George, but being at Taylor Field.
The trips to the grand old lady have been many. As a youngster, I sat in the Rider Rookies section. Every time I am in the building, I look in those endzones and remember. Whether your face was pushed up against that chain-link fence or you waited to catch a convert only to have someone request the ball back, they were games to remember.
I sat in Section 27 when the power went out against Hamilton and Gainer surfboarded up and down our section. I was in the pressbox on that famous night in 2007 when the power went out, and I was fortunate enough to be on the field amongst the mayhem on what will forever go down as the greatest night in Saskatchewan sports history when the Riders captured the 2013 Grey Cup. Who's kidding who, I was part of the broadcast on 620 CKRM that night hosting the half-time show with Phil Andrews as the snowmobiles did their thing on the field.
I have walked those ramps, I have gone to the trough on the east side, I have sat on those uncomfortable benches, I have yelled at the opposition, I have spoken to the greats of our game, and I have loved every minute of it. My dad took me to my first game and even though I was working, I made sure my daughter got to experience what Rider football at Mosaic Stadium is. I won't be there tonight, but she will be. It is my hope one day her kids will go to the new Mosaic Stadium to keep the tradition going, Its what we do in Saskatchewan. We can't help it. Its who we are.
The memories are so many. From watching the greats. Lancaster, Reed, Aldag, Austin, Narcisse, Ridgway, Dressler, Chick, Makowsky, Lowe and so many more. Watching three Grey Cups, being there for a 55-55 tie when Henry Burris and Dave Dickenson had a duel for the ages, standing on the visiting sideline and watching Jason Clermont score in overtime to beat the Lions in the Western semi, watching Tony Cherry go around the right side to give the BC Lions a playoff win on a cold Sunday that got colder once he scored to seeing Darian hoist that Grey Cup high. From watching Bon Jovi to the Blue Jays, the common denominator is that structure on 10th Avenue.
I won't be there tonight, and I am sorry for that. However, duty calls as I am in Winnipeg with the Rams as they finish off the regular season against the Bisons. While I am sad to not be in attendance, it is nice to know I have at least one more trip to the grand old lady on 10th Avenue as I will be at Rams playoff games. Could they have 3 more games in there? That's up to the Horns to decide.
Speaking of the Rams, they have given me many Mosaic moments as well. I have been fortunate enough for the past number of years to have been either the TV or radio voice of the team. I called Jon Ryan touchdown catches, I had the privilege of being behind the mike when Neal Hughes had one of the greatest days a running back has ever had in University football. I had the call when Frank McCrystal won his last home game as coach of the team in what was an emotional afternoon, and I absolutely lost my mind as Mike Stefanovic rumbled 100 plus yards for a TD against the Huskies last year.
All I know is when that time comes to walk down those ramps for the last time and it is time to walk on that hallowed surface where so many Canadian football greats have done their thing, a wave of emotion will wash over me. That wave could wash over you as well around 9 o'clock tonite. Enjoy the evening and hope the Riders can give you one more positive memory of a building that has likely meant as much to you as it has to me.
Taylor Field's time has come and there is no denying that. We all look forward to hearing "Bring Em Out, Bring Em Out" next June when the green-and-white start making new memories at their brand new home. As I walk out for the last time next month, I will be sad because of what Taylor Field has meant, but as I look west, I will see what the future holds.
But while knowing what the future holds, I will look back and say "Thanks for the Memories". Good and bad, I wouldn't have changed a thing. As you leave your seat tonight whether it is one you have had as a season ticket for many years or one you just got for this game, if you have cheered for this football team, you wouldn't change a thing either.
Goodbye old girl. Thank you for all the memories you have given me. You won't be forgotten!