This time, on this Sunday in late November, there are not any horses roaming round in a lodge foyer, a convention courting again to 1948.
There is no Pigskin Pete chanting ‘Oskee Wee Wee!’ from road corners or the sidelines.
Groceries shops within the host Gray Cup metropolis aren’t working low on watermelons, after a inexperienced wave of followers from Saskatchewan confirmed as much as social gathering.
And there will probably be no fly-over above the stadium simply minutes earlier than sport time, the surge of the jet engines injecting pleasure and electrical energy into the venue.
Followers, many bleary-eyed from a week-long bender, aren’t waking up on this Sunday having to will themselves awake and muster up one final push to kick-off.
For the primary time since 1919 the Gray Cup will not be awarded to a deserving Canadian Soccer League crew and which means the shenanigans that goes with a quintessentially Canadian and quirky celebration is not enjoying out both.
As a substitute, Mosaic Stadium in Regina which was meant to host this yr’s championship sport sits empty, greater than 33,000 inexperienced, plastic chairs out within the chilly. The snow hasn’t been cleared from the aisles awaiting the frenzy of followers to take their seats.
The lights and buzz and hum of Gray Cup Sunday, hushed.
This can be a darkish time within the league’s historical past. Unable to play in 2020 after the league formally cancelled the season in August, many questions nonetheless stay because the CFL tries to stay optimistic about its future, earlier this week releasing a “comeback” 2021 schedule.
However this is not the primary time the CFL has been in a precarious place. In previous many years, there have been instances the league teetered on the sting of collapse, solely to discover a technique to play one other season. And very similar to the league itself, the Gray Cup trophy has additionally endured.
Commissioned at a value of $48 in 1909, the 13-inch silver chalice with a picket base definitely comes from humble beginnings. That small trophy has grown mightily over time, turning into the grand, shiny, prize gamers maintain over their heads after successful it – generally they break it too.
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In truth, the Gray Cup has been damaged too many instances to rely now – overzealous gamers so thrilled to lastly hoist it, snapping the unique high from its base. The trophy has been stolen twice, held ransom as soon as and even survived a 1947 fireplace that destroyed quite a few artifacts housed in the identical constructing.
This Sunday, although, the trophy will not be ushered out by Mounties and introduced to the champions.
And for as a lot because the championship has been about two groups waging struggle on the sector within the hopes of names being etched into the facet of the trophy, endlessly being a champion in Canada’s soccer league, it maybe extra importantly has been about bringing folks collectively.
Whether or not a Ticats, Stamps, Bombers, Riders, Edmonton, Als, Argos, Lions or Redblacks fan and whether or not you are a diehard or informal observer of the CFL, for thousands and thousands of Canadians on this one Sunday in late November, the Gray Cup has symbolized group and celebration.
Neglect the seaside or some unique overseas nation, folks plan their annual holidays round Gray Cup week — attend any one among these nationwide celebrations and you will get the sensation it is extra like a household reunion, lots of the similar faces and costumes showing yr after yr. The nation this one week in November feels slightly smaller and much more united.
It is meant Shania Twain using a canine sled into the stadium to carry out the halftime present. It is meant 13th Man heartbreak. The Fog Bowl in 1962, Ice Bowl in 1977 and the Snow Bowl 1996. John Sweet in a protracted leather-based coat in Winnipeg, watching his Argos win all of it. Tom Hanks and Martin Brief in Regina.
It is meant last-second area targets, body-contorting catches and plot twists within the waning minutes solely the CFL can manufacture. No lead is ever protected.
It is produced heroes, from Warren Moon to Tony Gabriel, Rocket to Pinball and Ridgway to Flutie. The record goes on.
The burden of not enjoying a CFL season is being felt immediately greater than every other time all through the final seven months as a result of on this Sunday in late November, thousands and thousands of Canadians are presupposed to be gathering of their houses, inserting their bets and having fun with their favorite snacks and drinks. It is simply what’s occurred on today in November for many years.
The league will survive. It at all times has. And that treasured trophy will probably be lifted to the heavens once more as confetti swirls and the intense lights of the stadium shines down on the champions.
However on this Sunday in late November, the promise of what may simply occur subsequent over 60 minutes of Gray Cup soccer is gone.
And it is missed.