Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

OHL: Spitfires celebrate ultimate long-time fanThe essence of a game is  how people respond to it — and it says a lot for junior hockey in Canada that its attracts some of the most loyal, steadfast fans in all of sport. In most arenas across the Canadian Hockey League, you're bound to find season-ticket holders who have been there since Day 1 of the team's inception or who have been going to games since current players' fathers skated in the league.

And it turns out none can hold a candle to Windsor Spitfires supporter Margaret Chamney, who turned 100 on Tuesday. The Spitfires, in a grand gesture to the great-great-grandmother of 17 who was born the year before the Titanic sank, have made her their honorary centenarian. Her classic response?

"I was thrilled to death," Chamney said.

"It has to be one of the best things to happen to me."

Chamney and her husband Herman were season-ticket holders for decades following the club.

"Our son used to buy them for us for Christmas," she said. "I love the Spitfires."

She spent years at the old barn watching the team.

"My favourite was Ernie Godden and J.P. Leroux," Chamney said.

"I used to wear buttons.

"The old rink (Windsor Arena) was cold and we had to use an umbrella one time because it was raining and the roof was leaking, but I love hockey." (Windsor Star)

The team has invited Chamney to perform the ceremonial faceoff for their home opener. As the Windsor Star's Jim Parker detailed, would mark her first visit to the WFCU Centre. It's more than well-deserved for someone who spent a generation cheering from her seat at the Windsor Arena, which was known simply and appropriately as The Barn. They also presented with a jersey and suffice to say, this is one time putting three numerals on the back is not a Jersey Foul.

Chamney's devotion has never wavered, either.

... Her husband passed 12-years ago and she no longer goes to the games at the WFCU Centre, but that hasn't stopper her from following the team.

"I never miss a game on TV," she said.

"I'll turn the phone off so no one disturbs me. If they're not on, I'll go up and down the dial to find a game and nine times out of 10, there will be one of our old players."

This will come off as corny and maybe insincere, but this helps show how for true sports fans, your favourite team can feel like family. One can assume that like anyone who is fortunate enough to live to her or his 100th birthday, Margaret Chamney might have been happy enough to mark the occasion with many of her, as the Star story notes, five children, 18 grandchildren, 38 great-grandchildren and 17 great-great-grandchildren. Having her favourite hockey team show up with a birthday surprise was the perfect topper. It also reaffirms part of what keeps all of us following junior hockey: the players keep getting older and move on, but deep-down, all of us watching stay the same age.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports . Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: Windsor Star; video, Windsor Spitfires).

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