Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Passion makes a comeback

Bombers vs. Riders matters again

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John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS files
Excitement over Winnipeg-Saskatchewan games is on the rise now the Bombers seem to have reached a competitive parity with their Prairie rivals.

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John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS files Excitement over Winnipeg-Saskatchewan games is on the rise now the Bombers seem to have reached a competitive parity with their Prairie rivals.

The guy dressed in Bombers blue and gold was in his early 20s, bent at the waist with his hands on his knees, hurling everything he had onto the scalding pavement of a parking lot in the shadows of Mosaic Field.

"Man it sucks to be a Bombers fan right now," came his reply when asked if he was OK.

The same fan will likely have the same jersey on tonight and he might even have the same eau de pints cologne filling the air. But he won't stink of despair.

Nope, he and thousands of other folks rolling into tonight's Bombers vs. Riders game will all be taking in the same whiff of hope their football team has pumped into this city.

This just in: The Bombers matter again. And so do these games with the Riders.

It's doubtful the Bombers' play on the field that day had much to do with this glorious display of upchucking. Too much beer, too much tailgate cuisine and too much sun were the more likely culprits. But for sure the Bombers weren't helping any.

It was Labour Day of 2012 and the Bombers had just been pasted 52-0 in what was, for my money, the low point of the Joe Mack era. Poor Tim Burke had been pushed into the head coaching job, and he was little more than a sacrificial lamb this day and throughout his disastrous run at helm of the sinking ship Blue Bombers.

It was bad enough the Bombers were among the worst teams in the CFL. But it was worse they couldn't muster up the gumption to make their yearly Labour Day trip to Regina more of a game. They've lost nine in a row on the biggest football weekend of the year on the Prairies. And for Bombers fans this is as almost as painful as the 23 years since they last won a Grey Cup.

But the Bombers enter tonight's game at 5-1 while the Riders are 3-2. Much more than pride is on the line.

This is a game that matters. In fact, not only is it the rivalry game of the week, it's simply THE game of the week in the CFL.

Winnipeg-Regina is always something to see. And with both teams now in the West Division and well within their rights to consider themselves a playoff possibility, the storyline goes well beyond the Hatfield and McCoy element of this matchup.

In fact, over the next five games, the Bombers will meet the Riders three times.

Hate will boil over and a team's season could be dramatically altered depending on the results.

"It's going to be emotional. But I don't want to say too much. They like to talk trash. But as my college coach used to say, 'a yapping dog rarely bites.' We want to do our talking on the field," said Bombers fullback Michel-Pierre Pontbriand.

Tonight's game, Labour Day and the Banjo Bowl. They will all have added depth and import this season.

Bombers fans have already been given reason to do some chest thumping. A win tonight will push their new belief to a higher level.

And if they don't win? Well, they get two more cracks. And this season, they won't be mercy games. They'll have meaning.

The Bombers-Riders series is back. It's good to see you again.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 7, 2014 D3

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

 

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