Priti Shah had no doubt in her mind that her Winnipeg Blue Bombers would take home the Grey Cup Sunday night.
“I was nauseous,” Shah said in an interview at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton after the Blue Bombers beat the Tiger-Cats 33-25 in a thrilling overtime win.
Shah has been a Bomber fan for decades, ever since her dad took her to a game and taught her the game. The team feels like family, she says.
Shah witnessed Winnipeg history Sunday as the Bombers won their second straight Grey Cup for the first time in nearly 60 years. The team hasn’t won back-to-back Grey Cups since the 1961-62 season.
“But I never lost confidence. Never.”
The team’s win was a testament to their quality after going a league-best 11-3 in the shortened regular season.
Blue Bomber defensive end Willie Jefferson said the team felt like they could hear the fans in Winnipeg.
“We heard all the cheers back in Manitoba,” Jefferson said after the game. “This is for y’all. If you don’t like Winnipeg, eat your heart out.”
“It’s resilience, it’s camaraderie, it’s a family. It’s Winnipeg,” he said.
This is the third time in franchise history the team has won two titles in a row. This historic moment means a lot to Winnipeg long snapper Mike Benson.
“This is my dream,” said Benson, who was born in Winnipeg and attended St. Paul’s High School.
His mom, fiancée and eight-month-old son, Wilder, all came to Hamilton to watch the game. Wilder slept through the post-game celebrations.
“This was his first flight, his first Grey Cup — he’s not even a year old. He never missed a home game,” Benson said.
After the game, Hamilton fans quickly filed out of Tim Hortons Field, but hundreds of Blue Bomber fans stuck around to soak in the feeling.
“I’m still in shock,” said Trevor Finch, who’s been a season ticket holder for 27 years. He credits his father for turning him into a Bomber fan. The last game they watched together before he died was the 1990 Grey Cup match up between Winnipeg and Edmonton.
“My dad is the reason I’m a fan,” said Finch.
“He would have been right there beside me, laughing and cheering, but probably also feeling bad for the Hamilton fans. But they’ll get their chance.”
The Bombers will head back to Winnipeg with the cup. Public celebrations have yet to be formally announced, but players are hoping for a parade through downtown.
Head Coach Mike O’Shea, who is now 6-0 for Grey Cup games in his CFL career, said he’s looking forward to watching his team celebrate back in Winnipeg with the fans.
“I know it’s tougher this year with COVID, but it’s gotta be a nice relief for the fans,” said O’Shea after the game.
“It’s been a tough couple years and I know we still have challenges ahead of us, but I’m hoping we can provide some happiness and joy for the province.”
Hometown support at home
Back home in Winnipeg, hundreds of fans of all ages gathered downtown at Portage Avenue and Main Street to celebrate the win.
Eleven-year-old Connor Weight was there blowing a large blue horn to show his enthusiasm.
“It’s pretty important because the Bombers just did a Grey Cup repeat and it’s amazing,” Connor said.
Long-time Bomber fan Don Seaton said he has two tattoos — one on each hand — of his favourite team, but he’s planning on getting another to mark the latest Grey Cup win after he finishes celebrating with others in blue.
“Best way to win, best way to end a 29-year drought — two cups in a row!”