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East-siders contend west side will still suck

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Blue fans (from left) Irv Koch, wife Sandi, granddaughter Iyla, daughter Keely.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Blue fans (from left) Irv Koch, wife Sandi, granddaughter Iyla, daughter Keely. Photo Store

Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,

Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,

When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

-- Rudyard Kipling, The Ballad of East and West

 

MONSTER Bombers fan Irv Koch has been harassing the opposition since Don Jonas was slinging footballs around the dearly departed Winnipeg/Canad Inns Stadium.

He wasn't about to abandon his post at his beloved team's new digs at Investors Group Field.

Koch will be in the front row of the east-side grandstand for opening kickoff tonight when the Bombers christen their new stadium with an exhibition game against the Toronto Argonauts.

And the Argos will know it, too.

"We're in Row 1," Koch said. "My wife is not too keen on it, but I get to razz the opposing players."

Indeed, in the the old Winnipeg Blue Bombers' stadium, what mattered most to many football fans was what side they were on.

East side or west side.

Hence the infamous chant, "West Side Sucks!"

And there's the different personalities, too.

The east side was home to the plastic cup "beer snake" -- the spawn of rowdy bellowers roasting in the setting sun, heckling at Jumbotron images during the national anthem and pelting the visiting team's bench with snowballs late in the season.

The west side was for more reserved football fans -- politely passing baking from home, not beers, up and down the aisles, seeking shade from the glare of a Prairie sundown and shaking their heads at the boorish behaviour on the east side.

The Bombers did their best to accommodate season-ticket holders who wanted to remain loyal to their sections and sides in the old stadium.

"Yes, there is an east and west side and most fans stayed on the same side they were previously at (in) Canad Inns Stadium," said Winnipeg Football Club spokesman Darren Cameron.

So, in the new stadium that tale of two sides continues. As it should, said longtime east-side fan Murray Chatfield.

"It's a friendly rivalry between the two," Chatfield said. "It's been going forever and ever. The only thing that's more important is the Banjo Bowl and Labour Day (games). It just makes the experience that much better. It adds ambiance to the game.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 12, 2013 A4

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