By Sean Fitz-Gerald
Mental note — if you want to party on Grey Cup Sunday, your best bet is to go to the Santa Claus Parade, because nobody in Toronto cares about the Canadian Football League.
I was looking forward to the celebration that the Toronto Argonaut/Saskatchewan Roughrider Grey Cup game would provide.
I love the Argos. I named my cat “Pinball” after the great Mike “Pinball” Clemons. I love them so much, I used to follow the when they were stinking up the league. But now I was ready to rejoice in their success. So I went to look for a pub where I could sit with fellow Argo fans and watch the game on a big screen.
The first bar I went to was P.M. Toronto’s, just across from Maple Leaf Gardens. I walked in, paid $4.30 for my bottle of Canadian and got ready to party. The only problem was there were only 15 damn people watching the game on the big screen. Of those 15, 10 of them were too wrapped up in their own conversations to pay attention to the game.
“Honestly, I think it’s like a joke,” said New York native Devon Joes. “I don’t think Canadians take football as seriously as the Americans do.”
Of course, and American would say something like that. It wouldn’t be the American way if she didn’t slam Canada, right?
“Because I live in Toronto, I really want to support the Argo now,” Jones added, killing my contempt for our southern neighbours.
As Argo running back Robert Drummond scored on a five-yard Flutie pass, there was nary a sound in the bar. Disgusted and depressed, I left P.M.T’s in search of a livelier crowd.
The next stop on my Grey Cup crawl was Hoops, just north of Carlton on Yonge. It looked cool from the outside, the bar was full and all of the TVs were tuned to the game.
So I wandered in, paid $3.25 for my bottle of Canadian, and watched the game. Again, I was denied an opportunity to party because the only people cheering in the whole bar were three Saskatchewan fans.
“Rider pride is unbelievable, it’ll follow you wherever you go,” said Jody Fleck, a Saskatchewan native.
Fleck said “eastern apathy” was to blame for the poor support the Argos receive.
“If the CFL had more money, they could get the big players in Canada and get more interest in Toronto,” he said.
Disheartened and slightly tipsy, I left Hoops for a bigger sports bar. I went down to Front Street, to the Sports Front Bar and Grill. Surely somebody here would be ready to party.
I walked into the bar, bought my requisite bottle of Canadian for $3.90 and sat down.
The bar, filled mostly with middle-aged men, was incredibly loud. However, I was saddened to see most of the people cheering weren’t watching the Grey Cup, rather they were watching closed-circuit horse racing on the smaller TVs.
By now, the Argos were already up 34-9, so I was hoping it was just a matter of time before a part broke out.
“I used to have a big Grey Cup party in my back yard, it used to be a good time. You just don’t see that anymore,” said Bill Evans, a fellow Molson drinker.
“Now, we’re basically the 51st state, it’s all about the glitz and glamour of the NFL today,” he added.
I chugged the rest of my beer, and slowly navigated my way home to the Library Pub at Dundas and Victoria Sts.
Here, there was only one man watching the game with me. The score was noe 47-23 Argos.
“I came down for the party,” Thane Poore said.
Poore turned out to be an even bigger Argos fan than me. He said he came all the way from Kingston to be a part of the Argonauts victory celebration.
“It’s depressing. This is an amazing team and it’s an absolute crime that most people don’t support it,” he said as quarterback Doug Flutie hoisted the Cup for the second consecutive year. Depressed, I chugged the last of my $3.25 bottle of Canadian and stumbled back to my apartment to party in silence.