Calgary bars open their doors for Stamps fans to watch the 100th Grey Cup

While the 100th Grey Cup ended in disappointment for most Calgarians, Nov. 25th’s football game was a success for the city’s bar owners.

Fans who decided to get out of the house and watch the game with fellow Stamps fans who didn’t migrate to Toronto were treated to lively events being put on by bars across the city.

Schank’s Athletic Club on MacLeod Trail hosted a huge Grey Cup party. The game played on 27 television screens throughout the bar. Even before the start of the game between the Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts, empty seats were hard to come by. 

Patrons draped in Stamps red and white sat shoulder to shoulder and drank pitchers of Molson Canadian in anticipation of their team taking the field. 

Brad Carbol and Stephanie Carr celebrate the Grey Cup at Schank’s Athletic Club on MacLeod Trail.

Photo by Max ShilletoCanadian country singer Johnny Reid’s pre-game performance from the Rogers Centre in Toronto was drowned out by the chatter of eager football fans in attendance at Schank’s.

“I’ve been revved up for this game all week,” said lifelong Stampeders fan Brad Carbol.

Carbol, who attended the Grey Cup party with his cousin, said, “This is one of the biggest Grey Cup parties I’ve ever seen.”

Just down the road from Schank’s, Calgary’s most popular cowboy bar, Ranchman’s, hosted a Grey Cup party of their own. A large number of fans in attendance proudly wore cowboy hats in addition to their red and white wardrobe.

Cowboys and cowgirls alike gathered for the event that transformed the western-themed watering hole into a hub for Calgary football fans.

“I usually come here to two-step on weekends, but I’ve never been here for a football game,” said Stamps fan Matt Festejo. “It’s a really great environment.”

The crowd’s loudest cheer at the bar was reserved for Stamps’ defensive back Quincy Butler when he intercepted a pass from Ricky Ray on the opening play of the game.

However, not long after, the crowd was silenced when the Argos took an early lead on a touchdown from the CFL’s most outstanding player, Chad Owens.

At 17th Avenue’s favourite Irish pub, Jamesons, the frustration was mounting after the Toronto Argonauts continued to drive up the score.

Halftime gave the fans in attendance a chance to regroup and enjoy the festivities at the bar which included a beer-chugging contest.

The event was hosted by CJay 92 DJ Red Dawg, who actually won the beer chugging, slamming back his pint in less than six seconds.

David Knightly looking disappointed with his Stampeder’s jersey over his shoulder at Hudson’s.

Photo by Max Shilleto

Fans also gathered at Melrose Café and Bar, just down the street. The venue that was made famous by the Calgary Flames’ 2004 playoff run, again looked like a sea of red – this time with a few white caps.

Fans continued to watch in disappointment as Kevin Glenn failed to get momentum going for his offence. Still, it didn’t seem to hurt beer sales, as the tables were covered in pint glasses that, at this point in the night, were half empty.

“We love the bar, and the service is great,” Bruce Wilson said. “It’s just too bad the game isn’t as good.”

There was one happy fan at Melrose.

Marc Pepin, who moved to Calgary from Toronto 10 months ago, may have been the least popular fan at the bar.

“I think I’m the only Argos fan here,” Pepin said. “I keep cheering, but no one’s joined me yet.”

Fans slowly started making their way to the exits at the start of the fourth quarter. By that time, Canadian tap house Hudson’s, located on 12th Avenue, was beginning to empty as well.

The spirit of Stamps fans was reaching rock bottom as they watched their team’s Grey Cup hopes fade in front of their eyes.

One fan took off his jersey and threw it onto his chair before the final whistle blew.

On his way out the door, David Knightly picked up his crumpled jersey, slung it over his shoulder and said, “I guess there’s always next year.”

mshilleto@cjournal.ca

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Brad Carbol’s name. The Calgary Journal regrets the editing error.