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Football fan seeks fair-weather — and all-weather — friends

Margaret is tired of missing Edmonton Elks games.
Margaret is tired of missing Edmonton Elks games. JACK FARRELL/St. Albert Gazette

Margaret is tired of missing Edmonton Elks games.

A regular at Commonwealth Stadium since it opened in 1978, the St. Albertan in her 70s is hoping to form new friendships with football fans of any age ahead of the upcoming Canadian Football League (CFL) season.

“My husband and I had Elks football tickets for years, and he died eight years ago,” Margaret said. “I kept the tickets for a while but then I couldn’t find anyone to go with me.”

She requested her last name not be published for privacy's sake.

“I don’t think we even had children yet, and my son is 51,” Margaret said when asked how long she's been attending games. “I just always enjoyed it.”

“A friend of (my husband) had four tickets so we used to go with him all the time, and then we started going with my brother-in-law, and then my husband and I started getting tickets on our own. Sometimes we got season tickets and sometimes we didn’t, it depended on what we had planned.”

Now, with a son more interested in hockey, a son-in-law swept up with baseball, and old friends who lost faith when the Green and Gold started slumping in recent years, “I’m left on my own,” she said.

“I’m not going to go there by myself.”

As such, with the organizational prowess of Tom McIntyre, an account executive with the Elks franchise, Margaret is hoping to start an informal booster club for the upcoming season, and is putting a call out for any Elks fan interested or in need of some new game companions.

Although she's not picky, Margaret's ideal fellow fans should not be heavy drinkers, though. “I don’t mind a social drink, believe me, but some people at the games over indulge, and I don’t want that,” she said, adding game-goers need not be afraid to tell the team to smarten up. “I'm not going to sit there quiet, that's for sure. I don’t do face painting but I usually wear the jersey.”

When asked what era of the Edmonton football club she remembers fondly, Margaret said the early 2000s, especially 2002 when Shania Twain performed the halftime show at the Grey Cup. It was held that year at Commonwealth Stadium and unfortunately saw the Montreal Alouettes and CFL Hall of Fame quarterback Anthony Calvillo defeat the hometown favourites 25-16.

“It was freezing, we were all wrapped up tight watching this game, and her at halftime, oh, I remember it particularly,” she said.

McIntyre said he's heard from fans in similar positions as Margaret, so he's hoping there's enough community interest for the Elks to start a program to bring together longtime fans in one section of the stadium each game.

“Once we sort of gauge the interest, there's some things to expand with the program to help grow it," he said. "We'd like to get to a point — we're not there yet — to have almost a private area for them,” he said.

Anybody interested in joining Margaret at the stadium this year can contact McIntyre by phoning 587-414-0599, or by emailing tom.mcintyr[email protected] to get more information and get involved. 

Margaret said she doesn't have any particular goal in mind for the number of people she hopes to recruit this year. 

“Whatever we can get, even if we start with just three or four,” she said.

Last week the City of St. Albert announced it had partnered with the Edmonton Transit Service to provide a free local park-and-ride service leaving from the Nakî Transit Centre for all Elks home games this season. Those interested in using the service will only need to show a valid game ticket to hop on a bus.

The Elks kick off the 2023 regular season on Sunday, June 11, when the Saskatchewan Roughriders come to town.

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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