My first Jets game was with my grandpa when I was somewhere around 13 or 14 years old. We were not really a sports family, and so I didn't grow up as a rabid sports fan, but I did love the Jets. I remember those first few games I attended mostly for the atmosphere in the old barn... It was a loud old building with steep concrete steps, usually with beer dripping down from various spills. It was probably that abundance of beer that caused the fistfight a few rows below us - well it wasn't really a fight- a woman was pummelling her boyfriend and he wasn't fighting back. (I give him great credit for this, although it might have been out of lack of ability due to his own drunken condition). It would have been awesome to see the look of joy and wonder in my young eyes as the crowd began the chant after a bad call... "Bullsh...." you know where I'm going with this...
I was 20 years old in 1996 when the Jets left town, and I managed to attend one of the last games with a group of friends. I don't remember how we ever managed to get tickets, but it was either 21st or the 23rd of April as the Jets played Detroit in the first round of the playoffs. I'm pretty sure it was the 23rd actually, because according to my memory they won the game, which would make it the last game ever won at home and the second last game at home ever.
It's been many many years since that day. In fact, in some ways it feels like a lifetime. It was that summer that I was to begin my career at Cedarwood, a career that would last for 14 years. As I grew older and life changed around me, it's funny how the sting of losing our team never really left. It's ultimately a pride thing I admit- I love our city and I loved our team, and it just didn't feel right that it was now gone. Every few years we'd hear a rumor here or there that there was a chance of getting the team back, and every time we were let down. I'll be very honest- by the time rumours were once again hitting a fevered pitch about a return of our team this last spring, I had pretty much stopped paying attention. You can only be burned so many times, and I was done by that point. It was fun to keep hope that it would happen someday, but I honestly wasn't prepared for the announcement. It became official while I was in Pinawa at a pastors retreat. It seems like yesterday, and the truth is that a crazy amount of details have fallen into place in the relatively short time since.
Here we are - tomorrow the Winnipeg Jets take to the ice to start a new chapter of hockey in Winnipeg. I actually fell quite silly about how excited I am, even if I admit that I don't have a chance of seeing a game in person for at least 3 years! I can't explain it... but I'm just excited that once again a grandfather can take his grandson to see the best of the best playing in our own city. I can almost hear the crowd once again.....
GO JETS GO. GO JETS GO. [insert horrible call from ref here] BULLLSH............... :)
Saturday, 8 October 2011
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