Priti Shah had no doubt that her Winnipeg Blue Bombers would take home the Gray Cup on Sunday night.
“I felt sick,” Shah said in an interview at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton after the Blue Bombers beat the Tiger-Cats 33:25 in an exciting overtime win.
Shah has been a bomber fan for decades, ever since her father took her to a game and taught her the game. The team feels like family, she says.
Shah witnessed the history of Winnipeg on Sunday when the Bombers won their second consecutive Gray Cup for the first time in nearly 60 years. The team has not won any consecutive Gray Cups since the 1961-62 season.
“But I’ve never lost confidence. Never.”
The team’s victory was proof of their quality, having achieved the best results in the league 11-3 in the shortened regular season.
Blue Bomber’s defender Willie Jefferson said the team felt like they heard the fans in Winnipeg.
“We heard all the cheers in Manitoba,” said Jefferson after the game. “This is for all of you. If you don’t like Winnipeg, eat your heart out. “
“It’s resilience, it’s camaraderie, it’s family. It’s Winnipeg, ”he said.
This is the third time in franchise history that the team has won two titles in a row. This historic moment means a lot to Winnipeg long snapper Mike Benson.
“This is my dream,” said Benson, who was born in Winnipeg and attended St. Paul’s High School.
His mother, fiancée, and eight-month-old son Wilder all came to Hamilton to see the game. Wilder slept through the festivities after the game.
“This was his first flight, his first Gray Cup – he’s not even a year old. He never missed a home game, ”said Benson.
After the game, Hamilton fans quickly left Tim Hortons Field, but hundreds of Blue Bomber fans stayed nearby to soak up the feel.
“I’m still in shock,” said Trevor Finch, who has been a season ticket holder for 27 years. He credits his late father for turning him into a bomber fan. The last game they watched together before he died was the 1990 Gray Cup match between Winnipeg and Edmonton.
“My dad is the reason I’m a fan,” said Finch.
“He would have been right next to me, laughing and cheering, but probably also feeling sorry for the Hamilton fans. But they will get their chance. “
The bombers will return to Winnipeg with the trophy. Public celebrations have yet to be officially announced, but players are hoping for a parade through the city center.
Head coach Mike O’Shea, now 6-0 for Gray Cup games in his CFL career, said he looks forward to seeing his team celebrate with the fans in Winnipeg.
“I know it’s harder this year with COVID, but it must be a nice relief for the fans,” said O’Shea after the game.
“It’s been a tough couple of years and I know we still have challenges ahead of us, but I hope we can bring some happiness and joy to the province.”
Hometown support at home
Back home in Winnipeg, hundreds of fans of all ages gathered downtown on Portage Avenue and Main Street to celebrate the win.
Eleven year old Connor Weight was there blowing a big blue horn to show his enthusiasm.
“It’s pretty important because the Bombers just did a Gray Cup replay and it’s amazing,” said Connor.
Longtime bomber fan Don Seaton said he had two tattoos – one on each hand – of his favorite team, but plans to stab himself another to celebrate the latest Gray Cup win after partying in blue with others has.
“The best way to win, the best way to end a 29-year drought – two cups in a row!”