A View From The Stands: Banjo Bowl Piffles Pod Bus Edition
Published: Tuesday, Sep 10th 2019, 8:09am
By: Sheldon Jones (@SheldonJones83)
All week long, all I could do was count down the days and hours until my wife Tammy and I gathered with over 50 other hardcore Saskatchewan Roughriders fans for a trip down the Trans Canada Highway to watch the Riders take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Labour Day rematch that has been infamously dubbed the “Banjo Bowl”. It all started with former Blue Bomber kicker Troy Westwood when he labeled Rider fans as “a bunch of banjo-pickin’ inbreds” before a 2003 playoff game between the Riders and Bombers. The next year Blue Bomber board member David Asper coined the post Labour Day rematch as the “Banjo Bowl. Up to this year the Bomber had an 8-7 record in this annual event and the Roughriders were looking to even up the series at 8 wins a piece. Or so we thought… (Usually this piece would be a review of the game, but we all know how that ended… I will focus more on the trip itself)
- Getting up at 3 am wasn’t so bad. After grabbing some coffee at the Vic Square Tim Horton’s, we loaded up the bus and made our way east. Most on the bus took the opportunity to get a few more hours of sleep but I was too excited to sleep. After a quick stop in Moosomin to pick up a couple more members of Rider Nation we continued to Brandon for a breakfast stop.
- Had the pleasure of getting to know @huntzki better during breakfast at the Smitty’s in Brandon (they were quite shocked with the bus showing up but did a great job of getting everyone fed quickly) Next stop, IG Field!!
- We got to the stadium about 2 hours before kick off and after a quick group photo, Tailgating commenced. Some fans went to the famous @BomberFanTed’s tailgate party or partied with other fans who tailgate in the parking lots around the stadium, and some of us went into the official Blue Bomber / Riderville parties just beside IG Field. Lots of fun was had and we managed to get some pics with the Bombers Mascot and Pilot dude. As I was dressed up as Marvel’s Thanos complete with a Roughrider themed infinity gauntlet I got quite the looks and gave out my fair share of fist bumps to Rider fans and Bomber fans alike.
- After we entered the stadium, we took a walk around the concourse and found our seats. Just like last year we were below the famous Rum Hut (just on the other side of the endzone) I spotted the infamous @Bomber_Reaper and we made our way down to finally meet that great man. What a couple passionate fans he and his wife @Bomber_Vixen are, and it was great to finally meet them. During the game we also we able to meet @UKBombers, a bomber fan who made the trip across the pond and is so engaged that he stays up into the wee hours of the morning to watch the bombers games live all the way in Nottingham, England. There was also countless other Bomber fan we met that were just great fans and very welcoming of us, their rivals from the west. Of course, there are always a few bad apples in every bushel but the good far outweighed the bad and I am happy that we took the chance last year on this bus trip to give you Winnipegger’s a second chance. We also FINALLY got to meet @Tinabanshee a hardcore Hamilton Tiger-Cats fan who flew into Winnipeg to watch the Banjo Bowl with us. She is amazing and for her to do that just to attend a neutral site game featuring 2 teams that aren’t hers is just a testament to how cool she is. We did see her wearing a green “Jesus Sprinkles” t-shirt (email [email protected] to get yours!) and green is DEFINITLEY her colour LOL.
- Then came the game. I will tell you this, the game was lost for the Riders when they allowed Bomber QB Chris Streveler to convert a 2nd and 17 from their own 3-yard line on the first series. Had the Riders stuffed them there, they would have had very good field position and possibly even a 2-point lead if Mike O’Shea decided to give up a safety to gain a little bit of field back. But no, the Roughriders defense then proceeded to allow the Bombers offense to drive the field 100 yards and score their opening TD of the game. Not only that Streveler and co. chewed up over 8 minutes of the first quarter. It was a very demoralizing drive that ultimately lead to the outcome of the game.
- After the game came the long walk of shame out of the stadium and back to the bus. I think having the game go the way it did lead to an easier walk back, as if it was closer it might have been more tense. Only a few fans felt the need to rub it in our faces so that was great. Lots of fist bumps and thanks for comings. We loaded on to the bus and made the long trek to the downtown hotel. Luckily, we were closer to the front of the bus, so we only had a short wait to get checked in. My huge thanks go out to all the peeps @PifflesPod and specifically @Safimod for making sure everyone got checked in right and had to wait till last to get himself checked in. For all your planning of this trip, you are the real MVP!
- We decided to grab some food and were looking online to see what restaurants were close by. Nothing was really jumping out at us, so we decided to go downstairs and try out the Hotel restaurant (as did a good number of us from the bus). Let’s just say this wasn’t our best choice. The food looked amazing but after sitting there for over an hour with not so much as a “sorry we are running a bit behind” we asked a server if it would be much longer. They went to check and informed us it would be at least 20 more mins. We politely apologised and said we were not going to wait and ended up getting something off Skip the Dishes in our room (which ended up being what we should have done in the first place lol).
- In the morning we woke up and after reading some twitter suggestions for breakfast we decided to try the little dinner across the street from our Hotel, Stella’s. It was AMAZING!! Great price for a very generous sized portion and we were fueled up and ready to get back on the bus to head home. After a stop in Moosomin to drop off a couple passengers and to grab lunch at the Red Barn (which is also AMAZING) we were back home in Regina safe and sound thanks to our bus driver Willie!!
The Banjo Bowl Bus that Piffles puts on has easily become my favorite trip of the year. I get to see all the CFL family I can handle, and we just have a great time. I can’t wait till next year (or maybe sooner if we don’t host the West Final) but I am also very excited for the Piffles Bowl 3 touch football game on Saturday September 21 at Mosaic Stadium. The game is being hosted by Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive tackle Zack Evans and is an awesome time where they raise money for Hope’s Home in Regina. $60 dollars gets you on the field to play touch football for 2 hours with Zack. Then there is an after party with prizes and a silent auction to follow!! Come join me and the crew for some great fun!!