Football and Mother Nature

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Aug. 4) — For two weeks, southern Ontario is bone–dry. I buy tickets to a Canadian Football League game in Hamilton and get soaked.

At least I wasn’t alone.

More than 24,000 people had their coifs ruined Monday night at Tim Horton’s Field, as a driving thunder–and–lightning storm halted play for 26 minutes between the Hamilton Tiger–Cats and Toronto Argonauts. Both teams were ordered off the field with 5:38 left in the first half as lightning struck close to the stadium. Hindsight reveals the Argos should have remained in their dressing room, for they showed absolutely nothing in a 34–18 loss — the final score flattering to the double–blue.

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THE SKY WENT DARK AND UGLY FOR HALF–AN–HOUR IN HAMILTON ON MONDAY NIGHT.

It was my first visit to the stadium that opened while still under construction on Labor Day of last season. And, I was impressed. Hamiltonians have coveted football for more than a century and deserve a front–line facility. Though not as intimate as the old park — Ivor Wynne Stadium — the new field (built on the same site) offers amenities inherent to all modern sports venues. Particularly, widened concourses, which came in handy once the rain began to pour down on Monday.

Naturally, I was accompanied to the game by my trusty NIKON:

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THE WEATHER WAS RADIANT UPON ARRIVING IN THE HAMMER NEAR 5:30 P.M.

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WIDE ? AND CLOSER ? VIEWS OF EAST STANDS FROM OUTSIDE THE STADIUM.

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TIGER–CATS PUNTER HUGH O’NEILL LETS ONE FLY DURING THE WARM–UP.

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TIM HORTON’S FIELD — NAMED AFTER THE DONUT EMPORIUM FOUNDED MAY 17, 1964  BY THE HALL–OF–FAME TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS DEFENCEMAN (AND BUSINESS PARTNER RON JOYCE) — IS IN THE SAME RESIDENTIAL AREA OF EAST HAMILTON AS WAS IVOR WYNNE STADIUM. THE FACTORY OF U.S. STEEL CANADA (FORMERLY STELCO) IS PROMINENT IN ABOVE PHOTO.

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THERE WERE COPIOUS SIGNS (ABOVE AND BELOW) OF IMPENDING WEATHER AS THE TIGER–CATS AND ARGONAUTS WARMED UP BEFORE THE FOOTBALL GAME.

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IT WAS HAMILTON’S HOME OPENER OF THE 2015 CFL SEASON AND A BEVY OF FORMER TIGER–CATS WERE INTRODUCED IN A PRE–GAME CEREMONY, INCLUDING HALL–OF–FAME TIGHT–END TONY GABRIEL, NOW 66. GABRIEL STARTED HIS CAREER WITH THE TI–CATS IN 1971 BUT IS BEST REMEMBERED FOR HIS LAST–MINUTE TOUCHDOWN RECEPTION (FROM QUARTERBACK TOM CLEMENTS) THAT WON THE 1976 GREY CUP FOR THE OTTAWA ROUGH RIDERS.

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THE WIND PLAYED HAVOC WITH A GIANT CANADIAN FLAG DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM.

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HAMILTON QUARTERBACK ZACH COLLAROS TAKES SNAP EARLY IN THE GAME.

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TURNING TO MY LEFT FROM THE WEST UPPER–DECK OF TIM HORTON’S FIELD, I COULD SEE CLEAR ACROSS LAKE ONTARIO TO SUN–BAKED DOWNTOWN TORONTO.

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THE WEATHER BEGAN TO CLOSE IN LATE IN THE FIRST HALF AND PLAY WAS SUSPENDED BECAUSE OF NEARBY LIGHTNING WITH 5:38 LEFT IN THE SECOND QUARTER.

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FANS SCRAMBLED FOR COVER (ABOVE AND BELOW) AS THE SKIES OPENED.

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THE CONCOURSE WAS PACKED WITH FANS WATCHING TV MONITORS ABOUT THE WEATHER.

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MY SON, SHANE, HAPPILY RETURNED TO OUR SEATS ONCE THE RAIN STOPPED AND THE SUN BEGAN TO SHINE ON THE UPPER–DECK ACROSS THE FIELD.

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THE TIGER–CATS STARTED DEEP ONLY ONCE DURING THE NIGHT.

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THE ARGONAUTS WERE CONFUSED ALL NIGHT.

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AND, GOOD NIGHT FROM THE HAMMER.

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