That was a brief introduction to each team. Following on from that I thought it might be fun to look at each of the nine teams in a little more depth. Especially because, in that article we noted, “You need to find an affinity. Feel a connection. Have something that makes them, however they perform, very much your team.”
Which is what this is about. the first team we are going to look at are the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Is there something there that will create a connection? Let’s see.
The Ti-Cats play at Tim Hortons Field. The 23,000+ seater is a combined home for the Hamilton Tiger Cats, and Forge FC football (soccer) club of the Canadian Premier League. The stadium opened in September 2014, and was a replacement for the venerable Ivor Wynne Stadium.
On game day, Tim Hortons Field can look like a communal gathering place, with fans bedecked in the team colours and wearing jerseys representing current stars or those of much loved Hall of Famers like Grover Covington, Angelo Mosca, and Bernie Faloney among others.
The team was formed in 1950 by the merger of the Hamilton Tigers and Hamilton Wildcats. Whilst the CFL recognizes the Tiger-Cats from 1950 onwards, the team and their fans say the team is older. The argument being that as they were founded out of the two teams they can trace their heritage back from them.
Arguing from this point, Hamilton fans note that the ‘Tigers’ emerged from the first Hamilton football team founded in 1869. The club themselves give a really good rundown on the history on their own site. Have a look here to find out more.
How many Grey Cups?
Which is not to say they have been without success. For example, Hamilton’s post-season record over the decade 2010-2019 was 7-8. Only Calgary appeared in more playoff contests during the decade. The Tiger-Cats also made it to the Grey Cup on three occasions. Unfortunately for them they lost each time in 2013, 2014 & 2019.
Plus, since 1950, whilst they have won the grey Cup on 8 occasions, they have contested the title game 20 times.
As we have seen however, the club, and their fans fundamentally disagree with the league here. Whilst the CFL recognizes 8 Grey Cup wins, Hamiltonians lay claim to 15 Grey Cup wins. They argue this because they see each of the Hamilton-based teams as part of their history “since each franchise is connected to the current Tiger-Cats club”.
The Hamilton Tigers won five Grey Cups, (1913, 1915, 1928, 1929 & 1932), while the Hamilton Flying Wildcats (1943) and Hamilton Alerts (1912) each won one.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats today
The Tiger-Cats are coming off of one of their most succesful ever seasons. The last time the CFL played (2019), Hamilton finished a league best 15-3, and won the East Division title match convincingly before falling short in the Grey Cup. They will surely want to take one step further this time around.
Their regular season success was reflected in the end of season awards. Hamilton took home the MOP trophy thanks to ‘Speedy B’ , WR Brandon Banks having a great season. They also took home the coach of the year, most outstanding lineman and most outstanding special teams player awards.
Reigning Coach of the Year Orlondo Steinauer was named HC in December 2018. Having been Hamilton’s defensive coordinator from 2013-2016. He had a short stay with Fresno State before returning to Hamilton earlier in 2018 as assistant head coach. When June Jones left for the XFL, Steinauer took over the reins.
He had a great first year, during which Hamilton were perfect at home for the first time since the CFL introduced an 18 game schedule.
Oskee Wee Wee
Every team has a mascot. Or perhaps a fight song, right? Well Hamilton have Tc & Stripes, pretty traditional looking mascots. But they also have ‘Pigskin Pete’ and the Oskee Wee Wee chant.
“Oskee Wee Wee, Oskee Wah Wah, Holy Mackinaw, Tigers … eat em raw.” That’s how it goes, but what is it all about? Nobody seems to know. There are a few origin stories for the chant. The only thing for sure seems to be that it was first used at a Hamilton Tigers football game in 1921.
Perhaps it mutated from somewhere else like college football. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it reprents the team and the fans feel like it belongs to them. The chant is led by crowd rouser ‘Pigskin Pete’. There have been a few Petes’ down the years. The latest taking the role in 2019.
Are they right for you?
There are nine teams to choose from. This is just the first. But the Ti-Cats could be the ones for you.
They are an Eastern team with a strong heritage. And a lineage of football going back to the late nineteenth century. Hamilton is a community founded around manufactuing and industry and consequently the black and gold Ti-Cats have represented that as a blue collar team down the years.
Appended to the stadium is the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. So, if you ever planned a trip to see the tabbies play you would undoubtedly want to see that too.
A Special (teams) Connection for UK fans
Another thing that may attract UK fans to the Tiger-Cats is their special teams coach. The team have brought back Jeff Reinebold as their special teams coordinator. 2021 will be his seventh season with the club. Although there was a brief one year hiatus with the BC Lions.
Jeff has a connection with the UK fan base. He has been involved with NFLUK live tours. As well as covering the NFL on Sky Sports. He can even occasionally be seen at an NFL viewing party in the UK. He is a recognised and respected face for UK football fans. Maybe he can be a gateway for NFL fans who take a casual interest in the three down game. And, in particular, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Banner image from cfl.ca