If you followed The Hoser’s Guide to the 102nd Grey Cup (required reading before you go any further) then your trip will look remarkably similar to the exploits herein.
Along the way I have ranked parties and events out of 5.
(1/5) – Don’t bother next year.
(2/5) – Worth one drink, but only to say you were there.
(3/5) – A good enough time but there was somewhere better to be.
(4/5) – Great party with a couple of annoyances.
(5/5) – Mandatory for 2015!
My plan was to rendezvous with Blue Bastard Sr. immediately after arrival in Vancouver and rid myself of the week’s pay, it having been a heavy burden on my wallet all week.
Woah, Blue Bastard, wait a second, how can a bastard have a father?
1.archaicderogatorya person born of parents not married to each other.2.informalan unpleasant or despicable person.“that bastard drank all our beer!”
Hope that clears things up.
Eventually, after the seemingly never ending work day and a prick taxi driver, I arrived at the airport sober but ready to begin the adventure for which I had been waiting a full year.
It was difficult to hail Captain Morgan inside the Maple Leaf Lounge with the yanks all heading home for Thanksgiving but I eventually managed a few minutes of his time.
My time in the lounge was short but I was soon boarding without being a burden on sobriety. Strangely, everyone on the plane acted like they’d never seen me before, as if I were out on a day pass.
They had no idea who I was on the SkyTrain either but this didn’t phase me because the Captain and I had been sailing with the winds at our backs for a while now.
Eight hours after leaving work Sr. and I were at the Atlantic Schooner’s Party (3/5). It was a total let down, nothing like last the year previous, although to be fair it was only Thursday night.
Actually the band playing was better than anything else I would see all weekend. They did “Fairytale of New York” except they didn’t have a female signer so the male lead somehow raised his voice several octaves and performed the part while the bass player did his best Shane MacGowan impersonation. It was hilarious and well done. Heart felt applause followed.
It was here that my greatness was finally recognized. CKNW (AM980) granted me a platform with which to espouse my views on the best rum to coke ratio for fooling the Vancouver Police. I’m told this information was broadcast as far as Comox on Vancouver Island. True story! Curiously, my solutions to world hunger, climate change and war were left off the air. I can only assume this was due to time constraints imposed upon them by their sponsors.
It should have been apparent from the moment we walked in to the Convention Centre that it was a dead venue but we peeled off a half dozen twenty dollar bills before coming to this conclusion and cutting our losses.
Spirit of Edmonton (5/5) was bitchin’ (and free)! Definitely the place to be on Thursday night, I have nothing bad to say about it.
At the end of the evening I learned Vancouver has an acknowledged lack of Taxis, especially on the weekend, making it a long cold walk home in the rare-for-Vancouver snow.
Just like I knew would happen, I missed the Calgary Pancake Breakfast. The morning’s headache proved immune to the usually hangover slaying Tylenol-3 I had brought, so to the hair of the dog I went. A few hours later we were back in action at the Convention Centre under command of Captain Morgan once more.
Friday’s main event (for us) was Touchdown Manitoba (5/5 if you’re a Bomber fan, 4/5 otherwise). It was positioned perfectly a couple of floors up in the CC along a glass wall affording a magnificently unobstructed view of North Vancouver and the harbour. An awesome venue save for the first time bartender we were forced to contend with.
Here I met many loyal readers and then David Black (Bomber O-lineman form ’85 to ’96) while looting cold cuts. A more interesting conversation I did not have all weekend. He’s great story teller and I could’ve spent all afternoon crushing beer with him.
Speaking of beer, the price for a baby can of Stella was straight out of prohibition at $9. So naturally I made a scene about it and, of course, the Grey Cup Fun Police arrived (@GCFunPolice) to write me up:
As a salty dog is prone to do, I became progressively more inebriated and started spending money accordingly. No Manitoba social would be complete without prizes:
In typical Manitoba fashion, as soon after the prizes came off the table the party thinned out. We paid for entrance to the Atlantic Schooner’s Party again but tragically, it was scarcely any better than the previous attempt (3/5). So it was to be the Spirit of Edmonton once more!
There was a considerable line at Spirit this night, perhaps because it was a great party but probably because it was free. It was just as good as the night prior and once again this is where we finished.
Like the pancake breakfast there was never a chance in hell I was getting out of bed in time for the Grey Cup parade. I did however make it up barely in time to catch the exhibits inside the CC and at the Street Festival sometime around 4pm.
Overall I have to rate them fairly low (3/5 footballs) — the exhibits inside appeared to shut down at 6 and the street festival was, pardon the pun, pedestrian. There were no worthwhile giveaways and the zero degree weather definitely kept the locals away. The lone positive worth noting was the largest selection of food trucks I have seen at Grey Cup.
After short dinner break in Chinatown we resumed our application of the Hoser’s Guide by visiting as many of the team parties as we could. There were bars hosting the Bombers, the Cats, Argos and Stamps. I can sum them all up thusly: a bunch of strangers mostly representing the same team but also mostly keeping to themselves at their tables. Contrary to the CC or Spirit of Edmonton where everyone is making a point to get to know everyone else. I suspect this can be explained by the type of venue hosting: bars with tables vs the CC with open space. We guzzled our obligatory drinks as quickly as we could in anticipation of a better vibe at the next bar, only to end up repeating the procedure until we had given up on them all. 2/5 x 4.
Being Saturday night we had to give the CC another chance, but unwilling to spend $50 each for entrance to the concert series, headed instead to the the BC Lion’s Den (3/5 but could’ve been a 4/5). We were there a little early but it didn’t take long for the place to pick up. The Hoser’s guide says if you’re ever at a dead GC party with a VIP area then you need to pay attention to who’s inside. So that’s exactly what we did and look who we found:
He literally ran over to have his picture taken once we showed interest and stayed to chat for so long that the waitress, thinking he had abandoned his table, bused up Tommy’s full beer. Haha!
Prefer to drink something other than Bud? Then you were waiting in line for 15 minutes to buy drink tickets and then another 30 at the bar. Mercifully (never thought I’d say that about flavoured urine) the line for Bud was nearly non-existent at the Bud truck. Every year at least one venue suffers this affliction.
As bad as the lines were the worst part about this place was the absolutely wretched music. It was like listening to 1978’s top 40 and watching Dirty Dancing at the same time. Had I a dull pencil my own ear drums I would have pierced.
Lord Grey was to be conquered the next day so we agreed to call it a night.
I awoke late in the morning from the beads of sweat on my eyelids focusing the sun’s rays like a laser pointer burning a pilot’s retinas on final approach. After wiping them off and taking a swig from last night’s warm and flat English Bay Pal Ale, I emerged slowly from my linen cocoon. The unplugged Samsung Galaxy S3 on the floor was blinking red, betraying it’s intention to die as soon as I asked it to do anything useful. It unlocked on my third attempt and displayed the date. Nov 30! The day of days! Canadian Christmas! Though still not having reached peak mental awareness, it was then that I experienced what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity. I knew exactly what I had to do. I had to get drunk immediately.
Many individuals turn to coffee the morning after a hard night. A Grand National Drunk veteran turns to coffee cups, Coke and Captain Morgan.
There are two things to be accomplished on this hallowed of days:
- Carry the Grey Cup.
- Watch the Grey Cup.
In order to carry the GC one must obtain a wrist band. Just as Hoser’s Guide indicated might happen, one was bestowed upon me by the Cup’s keepers before I could even enter the Olympic Plaza and commune with my CFL brethren. Thank you maidens of CFL Fan March!
The Fan March (5/5) then turned into even way more fun that it has ever been…
Having exhausted our supplies (drinks) we marched back to the forward operating base to rearm. This produced one completely inconspicuous Road Rocket (RR) and one obviously Improvised Ethanol Device (IED). A good soldier makes do with what he has in the field…
That fueled an adventure around BC place which, I can now say with confidence, has the best pre-game atmosphere of any GC venue (5/5).
In we went.
New BC place was much better than I remember from the first time in 2011. Bathroom lines weren’t so bad but I did get tricked into something called a “savoury beer”. There was no line so I purchased one and to my absolute shock was presented a concoction of “clamato and beer”. I cannot pardon this dastardly bait and switch. Nine dollars for yeast flavoured salt water clam piss and tomato guts? The Rumpelstiltskin-like metro sexual troll passing it to me had the shit eating grin of a Spike TV personality peddling dick pills.
I got over myself rather quickly and think I enjoyed the rest of the game until I was removed with a couple minutes left… I had no idea the winning touchdown was called back on an illegal block until I read about it the next morning in the paper… A story best told over a beer at Grey Cup 103 in shivering Winterpeg.
After the way Regina set up the team parties all inside the same venue Vancouver felt watered down. On a scale of pure fun I rate the 102nd as the second best Grey Cup I’ve had the pleasure of attending, the best being the 100th in Toronto. Vancouver is a great host city and each team was very well represented this year in contrast to Regina in 2013.
What made this one of the best Grey Cups was meeting lot of the people that frequent this space. It always takes more time than I think to write these posts and I wouldn’t keep it up if you didn’t keep reading them.
I will be in Winnipeg next November but before then I’ll also be at every Bombers @ Argos/Ti-Cats/RedBlacks game. Hopefully I can snare the Montreal game too!
Happy New Year you scurvy dogs! All the best in 2015!