Some Hamilton football fans still give ex-Ticat O’Shea the means to leave town

He’s been gone since 2000, but it looks like some Hamilton football fans still haven’t forgiven Mike O’Shea for leaving the Tiger-Cats.

O’Shea had two separate stints as a linebacker with Hamilton (1993-95, 2000) during his Hall of Fame career. But most of O’Shea’s time as a CFL player was spent with big rival Toronto (1996-99, 2001-08), helping the Argonauts win three Gray Cups (1996-97, ‘ 04).

He added another Gray Cup victory as an assistant coach for the Argos (2012) before guiding the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to Hamilton 33-12 in the 2019 game. It was O’s first title. Shea as CFL Head Coach.

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Tiger-Cats and Bombers are on opposite ends in Gray Cup contest

Winnipeg returns to the Gray Cup game on Sunday, facing the hometown Ticates at Tim Hortons Field.

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When O’Shea returned to Hamilton as an Argos player, it was no surprise that some fans threw batteries at him on the Toronto sideline at Ivor Wynne Stadium. And while many Ticates fans have calmed down or moved on, O’Shea said he still hears it from some fans behind the visitors’ bench at Tim Hortons Field.

“There are a few guys behind our bench who are full of vigor,” O’Shea said Wednesday at the Gray Cup coaches press conference. “I think it’s calmed down a bit, but there are a few fans who still feel abandoned.”

Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer knows this firsthand. He played four seasons with the Ticates (1997-2000), helping the franchise win the Gray Cup in 1999 (the last), before ending with Toronto (2001-08).

“I stood next to (O’Shea) and he doesn’t overstate the history of the drums too much,” Steinauer said. “But you had canoes that you could fit into at the time.

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“I love it, it’s the CFL, that’s what is beautiful. They love their teams. I share the same, when I was in Hamilton they loved me. When I came back, not so much. It’s just what it is.

The Blue Bombers looking for back-to-back wins

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are looking to become the first repeat CFL champion since 2010.

The Montreal Alouettes were the last club to win back-to-back Gray Cups (2009-10). Winnipeg can do it on Sunday with a win over Hamilton.

The CFL did not play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And it has been a long time since the Gray Cup was last played after being two or more years away. The last time this happened was in 1920, as there was no match between 1916 and 19.

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Les Ticates hope to be first home team to win in 8 years

The Tiger-Cats will look to become the first team to win a CFL championship at home since the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2013.

That year, the Riders defeated Hamilton 45-23.

The home teams are 6-5 Gray Cup overall and have won the last three games (BC in 2011, Toronto in 2012 and Saskatchewan). Hamilton won a last Gray Cup title at home in 1972.

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What to do at the 2021 Hamilton Gray Cup Festival

Even though the Tiger-Cats play at Tim Hortons Field, Hamilton is named as the home team for the Gray Cup as the Eastern Division champion.

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The 2022 title match will be played in Regina. The West Division champion will be named as the home team next year.

Hamilton is set to host its first Gray Cup game since 1996.

When the city’s 25-year drought as host of the CFL Championship game ends Sunday, Montreal will become the CFL city to have lived the longest without hosting a Gray Cup (2008, 13).

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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