Trevor Stoddard (left) alongside fellow Riders fan Stacey Burden (right) at Dundas Square.Trevor Stoddard has been doing this for almost a decade. Traveling from city to city by car and sometimes by plane to witness the Grey Cup live. Like many others in his home province, the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native is a diehard Roughriders fan. And though the Riders aren't playing in their this year's championship game, being that it's the 100th Grey Cup gave him plenty of reason to hop on a plane to Toronto to take part in the all the festivities leading up to, and including Sunday's game.
Stoddard was one of many people dawning his home team's colours while taking in a part of the 100th Grey Cup festival in Yonge-Dundas Square Thursday. A white and green Riders away jersey was his choice of apparel and while at first glance the number 100 that's stitched across the front and back along with the name 'Stoddard' seems like something you'd see in an edition of Puck Daddy's Jersey Fouls, to him it holds a special significance.
Trevor Stoddard's friend surprised him with a special custom-made jersey last Christmas."My buddy Tony came back from serving in Afghanistan in November [and] every year we make a t-shirt with a logo on the back along with some sort of [Grey Cup] slogan," Stoddard said. "One year in Calgary it was 'the Riders are going to stampede over the Alouettes, last year it said 'No Riders in the Grey Cup? WTF. Still bleeding green.' So my buddy came back from Afghanistan in November and he texted me and said 'don't worry about the t-shirt this year, I've got something special.'"
Lo and behold, Christmas rolled around and as a gift for him, Tony had the jersey custom made and eventually Stoddard was able to get it signed by all the Riders players.
"This won't get worn ever again after this week," he said. "It will be put away to hang on a wall, never to be worn again."
Stoddard was in Toronto the last time the city hosted the Grey Cup in 2007 — when the Riders defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers — and he says there's a massive difference this time around when it comes to excitement and festivities leading up to the game.
It's a lot better," he said. "The last time we came, this square was empty, nobody was here and people didn't even know what our jerseys were. We were on the subway and people were asking 'What are you going to, a soccer game?' Now Nathan Phillips Square is full, the Convention Centre is full, this is full, it's like everybody knows that they Grey Cup is here."
B.C. Lions fans Carol Poole (left) and Val Reid (right).It's not just die-hard CFL fans that flew to Toronto to witness the 100th Grey Cup. Val Reid who traveled to the city from British Columbia alongside her cousin Carol Poole, had never even seen a football game up until last year. But when Poole asked her to come to Toronto, she jumped at the opportunity and the relatives have been doing their best to get into the Grey Cup spirit even though their Lions won't be a part of the historic game Sunday.
"We've been walking, talking, eating, doing a lot of high-fiving," Poole said. "
And they're hoping the experience in Toronto this week might lead to a yearly tradition.
"We were just talking about that," Poole said. "I think maybe we'll go to Regina next year, we'll just have to wear warmer clothes."