Thursday, November 30, 2023

Bombers bond: California curler and longtime friends in Winnipeg connect at Gray Cup

Daisy MacCallum is a huge Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan – even though she’s never been to Manitoba.

Until a few years ago, the California native knew nothing about the team or the Canadian Football League.

But looking at him now, you’d never know.

On Friday night, as she walked the Gray Cup Festival in Hamilton, she was dressed in a blue unitard, with blue hair and lights adorning her costume and matching blue light-up sunglasses.

“I knew this year I had to do something a little weirder,” MacCallum said. “And what’s better than bling and lights?”

There’s no mistaking which team he’s cheering for in Sunday’s CFL championship game, as Winnipeg looks to capture its third Gray Cup in four years.

“I’m 100 per cent a Bomber fan,” MacCallum said.

Three People Wearing Winnipeg Blue Bomber Regalia And A Silver Trophy.
MacCallum, Shaff and Diamond with the Gray Cup trophy in Regina in 2022. The three began going to Gray Cup games together in 2019, after Diamond told MacCallum about the long-standing tradition of attending the games with Shaff, his childhood friend. (Submitted by Jay Diamond)

Sunday’s game against the Montreal Alouettes will be the third Gray Cup he has seen the Bombers play. Those were the only three CFL games he saw in person.

His love for the team came from a conversation after a curling game with his friend Jay Diamond, about his love for the Bombers and the Gray Cup.

Diamond, originally from Winnipeg, moved to Menlo Park, Calif. — in the San Francisco Bay area — 30 years ago.

He and his childhood friend, Martin Shaff – who still lives in Winnipeg – started going to the Gray Cup together as a tradition in 2006.

Although the pair now live more than 2,000 kilometers apart, Shaff said the Gray Cup weekend gave them an excuse to coordinate their schedules to take a few days off for some fun and football.

They dressed up and hit all the Gray Cup weekend activities, surrounding it with the big game.

They go wherever it is, or who’s playing.

“It’s an excuse to hang out,” Shaff said.

A Man In A Sports Jersey Wearing A Horned Helmet, Stands Next To A Woman In A Blue Wig.
Shaff and MacCallum in Regina for the 2022 Gray Cup. MacCallum, a doctor of sports medicine, says that the Gray Cup is unique because it is ‘really about the fans and that every single team is represented’ by them. (Submitted by Jay Diamond)

When Diamond told MacCallum about the long-standing tradition, he knew it was something he wanted to be a part of.

“He’s a sports medicine doctor, and he’s been to every sporting event you can think of,” Diamond said.

“I told him about the Gray Cup, and he said, ‘That’s amazing. I think I should go to that.'”

In 2019, he and Shaff added MacCallum to their roster.

The trio went to Calgary to watch the Bombers beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats that year, ending a three-decade Gray Cup drought.

Since then, the new CFL fan quickly jumped on the Bombers bandwagon.

The Gray Cup is uniquely Canadian, MacCallum said, and offers a space for fans of each team to come together and celebrate the national league, regardless of who is playing.

“This is the only professional sporting entity that is really part of the fans and that every single team is represented in the finals,” the doctor of sports medicine.

“That’s something unheard of. You don’t see (that) in the United States, and that’s what I want to be a part of.”

While MacCallum has yet to go to a game in Winnipeg, he is looking forward to getting that chance soon.

The city is scheduled to host the Gray Cup championship in 2025.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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