November 8, 2012

Home away from Home

Mitchell Blair


If the Saskatchewan Roughriders have to play a game on the road, there is no place they would rather have it than at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium. When the Riders play there, McMahon turns into Mosaic Stadium 2 as Rider fans not only make the trek from our province to the game, but many from our neighboring province who call Saskatchewan home attend wearing Rider colours.  In fact, the only thing missing might be Gainer, Worksafe Bob and “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate”.

The football team is well aware as to what type of environment is created by games in Calgary and how they feel it’s a big advantage to them as they get ready for Sunday’s Western semi-final.

“It gives us a huge lift,” defensive tackle Keith Shologan said. “It is literally half green when we step out there. We hear from the Calgary fans and the Calgary players that every game people show up wearing red except for when we come to town when they change into Riders gear. We’ve had a lot of success there in the playoffs and I really think a lot of that has to be attributed to the fact that our fans are out there making it as difficult for them as their fans are in making it difficult for us.”

Head Coach Corey Chamblin has experienced it from both sidelines. Chamblin was the defensive backs coach in Calgary from 2008-2010 and saw his Stampeders get knocked off by the Riders in the Western final at McMahon by a score of 20-16. He is fully aware of what kind of factor the Rider Nation plays in this type of game.

“I was fairly new to it when I came to Calgary and I had to ask when the Riders came to play, not only in the regular season, but the playoffs as to whether or not we were the home team.” Chamblin said. “I’m serious when I say that because it looked like it was 50-50 in the stands and it made it very exciting.  It’s always good to have some of our fan base in attendance, but that really comes through in Calgary and I know they can help us out like they have in the past.”

Darian Durant has experienced many games at McMahon and like Chamblin he says it is a little surreal playing there knowing that they are supposed to be the visitors.

“Rider Nation is alive and well in Alberta—especially in Calgary.” Durant said. “It is the number one choice for us when it comes to being on the road. The crowd is about half and half and that means we don’t have to deal with the crowd noise to the extent that we would in other places and that helps us out tremendously. We have the best following in the league and that will show itself again on Sunday,”

The team will practice at Mosaic Stadium Thursday and Friday before departing to Calgary Saturday. Game time on Sunday is 3:30 Saskatchewan time (4:30 ET).

The forecast is promising as it calls for sunny skies with a high of plus 2.