Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bombers' biggest fan to raise flag

Senior a season ticket holder 67 years

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Don Ramage is fairly confident Investors Group Field is the last stadium in which he'll watch a Winnipeg Blue Bombers home game.

For those of you keeping score at home, he's on his third.

The 87-year-old is the team's longest-serving season ticket holder, having first made the commitment 67 years ago in 1946. The team is honouring him by having him raise the Canadian flag prior to today's regular-season opener against the Montreal Alouettes.

"This is fabulous. (Investors Group Field) is really something to be proud of," he said from his seat on Tuesday. Then he added with a laugh and a nod to the heavens, "I'll write you a letter when I get up there at the next one and see how they compare."

'This is fabulous. (Investors Group Field) is really something to be proud of'

-- Don Ramage, a 67-year season ticket holder

Regardless of which stadium he was in -- he started out in Osborne Stadium, moved to what became Canad Inns Stadium in 1953 now IG Field -- he was always on the west side.

"I like the sun on my back, not in my face," he said.

(Ramage still refers to the nearly-demolished Canad Inns as the "new" stadium.)

To put his longevity in perspective, during Ramage's first season as a season ticket holder, Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering (later Sony Corp.) was founded with 20 employees, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis first took the stage together and it would be another five years before Dieter Brock was born.

In nearly seven decades of dedicated fandom, Ramage has missed a grand total of five games. He is quick to note all were for a good reason, including his mother's funeral and him suffering a stroke a few years ago.

That means he has seen more than 600 regular-season and exhibition games as a season ticket holder. He has taken in even more when you include when he was younger and would catch an errant field goal or convert attempt that sailed outside of Osborne Stadium and the football would be his ticket in.

He went with a regular crew of friends for many decades but as the youngest of the group, he has been the sole survivor for several years. He made a point of buying his friends' tickets to ensure he would sit among people that he liked.

But you don't do something for 67 years without establishing a few rules. So, if you don't want to incur the wrath of Ramage, you make sure you take your hat off and belt out the national anthem, you don't block his view doing the wave, you don't drink and you never -- ever -- leave your seat until the final whistle has blown.

His son, Don, who along with his sister, Patti, knew better than to schedule a birthday party or any other event on the same day as a Bomber game, said he adhered to the rules without fail until he turned 18 and could legally buy a beer.

"You were there to watch the game and nothing else. You had to stay until the end of the game because you paid money to watch the game, not to leave early," he said.

The elder Ramage wasn't just a fan of the Bombers, he loved the entire CFL, compiling another impressive streak -- attending 41 consecutive Grey Cup games.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 27, 2013 A5

History

Updated on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 6:47 AM CDT: adds video, adds photo

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