One cup, 10 weeks, 100 stops.
Those are the stats of the Grey Cup Train Tour which made a whistle stop in Red Deer last week allowing dozens of CFL fans from many different teams the chance to see Canadian football’s Holy Grail, some for the first time.
Three cars made up the train, one with a look at the colourful history of the league, another housing a locker room featuring the jerseys of current players from each of the eight league members and another dedicated to the Grey Cup where fans could get a picture taken with the trophy.
“The CFL is not just a sports league, it has so much more to do with Canadian history and you’ll see that in the museum car,” said Carley Smith, communications officer for the Canadian Football League. “We wanted to, in celebrating the 100th year, bring the Grey Cup back to our fans who always travel to see the Grey Cup games so this is the way we’re doing it.”
The site in the Edgar Industrial Park was packed with activities outside of the train as well but it was the Grey Cup which many fans waited patiently in line to get up close and personal with.
The cup travels with a member of the Hall of Fame most times but for this leg of the trip at least there were members of the league office to keep the trophy safe and secure, said Smith.
“We will take the cup to places it has called home and places it has never been before, and each time it arrives, we will host a celebration worthy of its stature and full of fun,” said Mark Cohon, commissioner of the Canadian Football League.
One long-time CFL fan, Jim Sutherland of Red Deer explained why he loves the CFL game and took a bit of a shot at our national past time as well.
“Well they don’t go on strike, we know that. They play for a reasonable salary and they have the best interests of the fans in mind,” he said. “They’re a long-term tradition. One hundred years of one league. Well that’s a long time in Canada’s history and well worth celebrating.”
The Grey Cup is special, added Cohen. “It’s ours. And it’s time to celebrate it – and Canada.”