Those were the days

Inside the Huddle: August 28th, 2018

Down. Ready. Set. Hup, hup , hup!!
This time of the year I recall very well as a young teenager, football tryouts. Years from now, some of these guys will remember it too and tell their grandkids about it.  Right now, I bet they feel it every night when they get home.
The St Paul Lions and Bengals have been practising for a few weeks now. Hank ‘the Tank’ Rogal and his brother ‘Charlie Chuckles’ Rogal,  ‘Danny Boy’ Cardinal,  ‘Ty Cobb’ Smereka and  Odin ‘the Wall ‘ Smith have all played football before and will be on the Lions’ team this fall.  A
lso from our town trying out for the junior team, the Bengals, we have Sam ‘Spiderman’ Rogal, ‘Bazooka Joey’ Cardinal, Nathaniel ‘the Man’ Cousins, Josef ‘Big Red’ Therialt , Chayse ‘Big Pappy’ Pankiw and a female player Aurora Smith, who is a younger sister to the Wall.
 A few weeks from now we will have some game reports to give you…but for now…lets take you back to the early 70’s. 
Ancaster High School football tryouts started on the first day back at school. Every night after school, we would be pushing the blocker, running through tires, pounding heads with all the other guys trying to make the team. I did make the team, four years straight, not only that, we won the Hamilton Wentworth district championship four years in a row.
Of course we had a great team back then. Two of our players went on to play in the CFL. Bob Cameron with the Blue Bombers for close to 30 years as a punter. He was our quarterback all the way through high school.  And my cousin Marv Allemang, who was a big man, six foot three and about 250 lbs of muscle , he became a lineman for the Ti-cats. He played for over 10 years.
Game days on Fridays the team would get out at noon. We had a junior and senior team.  One team would load up on the bus and be on the road and one team would at home . Everyone from the school was there at the games. They would get out early on game days too. After winning the Hamilton and Wentworth district championship we would play off against the winner of the City of Hamilton. That final game was always at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton. The stadium is down in the east end of the city, down by the docks, close to the big steel mills, Stelco and Dofasco. The old stadium has been totally renovated recently and renamed Tim Hortons Field .
Just the other night, my wife Donna was having a wind up meeting with the girls from the Horticulture Fair. My good baseball buddy who also travels to the spring training,  Darryl Kinneberg came by with his wife Shirley, who is part of the committee. Darryl and I headed downstairs to watch the Ti-cats and the Eskimos play. Darryl is a big Riders fan and as such isn’t a fan of the Eskimos at all, so both of us were cheering for the Ti-cats. During the show the commentators began talking about the great the Hall of Fame quarterback Bernie Custis. This brought back a ton of memories, some of which I related to Darryl.
After high school I went on to play football at Sheridan College in Oakville. Our coach was Bernie Custis. He was the very first black quarterback in professional football playing for the Ti-cats in the 50’s.  Bernie passed away last year and was a terrific coach. He worked you hard at practise and expected the best, but would give you a chance. Took a chance on me anyway, because I was by far not the biggest player, but I still made the team.
He was a great preacher and had some awesome inspiring speeches before the games or at practise.  Here’s a few of his speeches I will never forget, I can still here him time and time again telling us “You must have discipline!” and if not the whole team  would run about a extra 25 wind sprints at practice. Not a lot of fun.  Another one was “You tuck that ball in boy, you ain’t carrying a loaf of bread you know!” But my favorite memory of all time was after one of our games when one of our runningbacks had taken the ball all the way from our own end zone over 110 plus yards for a touch down.
At practise the next night as we all gathered around for chat Bernie said to him . “Rastus, I didn’t know you could run that fast” Rastus replied “Bern, when those big guys is after you, you can run!”. After many years of coaching at Sheridan College Bernie went on and coached many more years at McMaster Universary in Hamilton and in 2013 was elected into the CFL Hall of Fame.
Last week at the golf course I was speaking with Taylor Cochrane. She is heading out this week with her parents driving down to southern Ontario to go to school at Sheridan College. She’s taking a sports program. I told her she’s going to love it there. I also told her to be sure to look up the old Sheridan Bruins football team roster from `72.  And she promised she would!
And now for the K. A. Campbell quote of the week. “You must have discipline !”- Bernie Custis- CFL Hall of Famer