Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Why let Bomber fans play hooligan game?

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Roughrider fan Hugh Montgomery, 8, and mom, Jodi, are angry at the way a Bombers fan treated them last Sunday.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Roughrider fan Hugh Montgomery, 8, and mom, Jodi, are angry at the way a Bombers fan treated them last Sunday. Photo Store

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers did more Sunday than finally win their first game at Investors Group Field.

Behind the scenes, the front office did something right, too.

I know about it only because Windsor Park mother Jodi Montgomery sent a letter to the Free Press. It was really an open letter addressed to the fan who made her son cry at last weekend's game. The blowhard with the big blow-horn was sitting in a first-row seat right next to where the archrival Riders would run onto the field Sunday.

Jodi's wee son, Hugh, wanted to see and greet his heroes up close, so she encouraged him skip down to closer seats wearing his green Roughriders jersey. Soon, little Hugh had trudged the nine rows back to his seat, head bowed, tears welling. Jodi went back down to find the Bomber fan who had told her son to sit down. She found the blowhard with the blow-horn and asked if he had told her son to sit down. At which point he yelled at her through the blow-horn to "sit down" and "go back to your seats."

Jodi said she pushed the horn away and returned to their seats.

The next day, still upset about what happened, Jodi sent her open letter to him through the Free Press.

"To the Winnipeg Blue Bomber fan in section 141, row 1 seat 2. I really hope you've been thinking about what you did before the game started at the Banjo Bowl. I hope you feel remorse. My son is 8 years old.

"He went to the game on Sept. 8 wearing his Roughrider jersey, to have fun and cheer on his team. What a surprise to realize our seats were right next to where they would run onto the field. He wanted to get as close as he could and maybe get a high five. You didn't. If anything, you wanted to yell at and taunt the players and, as it turned out, also yell at my son. Where was your decency? Your reasoning? Sense of sportsmanship?

"Was it necessary to yell at my son and rudely tell him to sit down? The game hadn't started yet. He wasn't going to stand there all day. He wasn't even in front of you. The only reason I can think of for you yelling at him was because he was wearing a Riders' jersey. You need to remember a few things: It is a game. It wouldn't be very exciting if we all cheered for the same team. It is supposed to be FUN. A little good-natured banter back and forth is expected and tolerated. Do you act like that outside the stadium? It's a game, not an uprising. You spoiled a perfectly great family outing for my son."

Jodi finished her letter by telling the blowhard with the blow-horn how her little boy answered when he was asked how he felt after the game.

"Bullied," he said.

I contacted Bombers communications director Darren Cameron and asked if there was a way for the club to identify who was sitting in that front-row seat. And what fans who encounter those kinds of situations can do in the moment. Cameron didn't answer the question about identifying the fan.

But he did say the Bombers have a Fan Helpline they can contact by texting BOMBERS to 78547 or 204-800-2790 or call 204-788-4357.

Then he addressed the incident.

He said the Bombers have been in contact with the family in recent days and were "working to resolve this matter with them, including offering them a Rider gear package and invite them to a game, compliments of the club... "

Bravo, Bombers.

But coincidentally, the Free Press received a Twitter tip about another report of an incident that sounds as if it was in the same area where the Montgomerys had their problem.

A female Riders fan was reportedly standing there, cheering as her team went back to their locker-room, when "one man literally pushed her and called her a loser and bitch" while a woman "was yelling obscenities at her." The account said the female Riders fan smacked one of the hooligans.

The hooligans weren't through with her.

According to the report, another one spit and rubbed his bloodied arm on her, and another man with a blow-horn blew it right in her face.

Sound familiar?

As they say, there's one in every crowd. Unfortunately, it sounds as if there was more than one in Sunday's crowd. In future, Bomber security and their high-tech surveillance cameras might want to keep an eye out for the hooligans in blue and gold who assault women. And make kids cry. After all, that's the reason the cameras are there.

Isn't it?

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 12, 2013 B3

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