Posted in General, Sport

A Spectacular Day

What is the relationship between Madrid, Spain and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada?

You probably cannot answer that – in fact, I am positive you cannot answer that, but I can. I like all sports to some degree or another, but there are some I love. Now, my father taught me never to use the word love about inanimate objects, but I consider sports as very animated, so ‘love’ is the correct word for cricket, tennis, some forms of aquatic sports, Canadian football and soccer.

And yesterday, Sunday, 24th November 2019 was a spectacular day. Naturally, church came first after breakfast, followed by some nibblies and a cup of tea. Then My Beloved and I headed home, determined to spend the rest of the day watching our beloved sports. Yes, I say ‘our’, for we both love the same sports.

Tennis Canada was formed in 1890 and four years later, it started a program for training boys of eighteen years of age and under. In recent years, of course, that has been opened to both boys and girls and operates in three centres in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. Beneath the level of these training centres are sixteen Training Development Centres, which are funded by grants, corporations and other sources. The result of all these developmental programs is that Canada has been producing young world class players.

The Davis Cup, named after a Harvard University tennis player in 1899, is the most preeminent tournament in tennis. Interestingly, Davis’ name was given to the cup, yet it is almost mythical for he himself had almost nothing to do with creating the tournament and his name dropped into obscurity. Nevertheless, the Davis Cup is something every male tennis player wishes to be part of and play for his country. (The equivalent for women is the Fed Cup.)

Canada has never won the Davis Cup, nor even reached the final, but this year our young team comprising Denis Shapovalov (20 years young), Vasec Pospisil (29), Felix Auger-Aliassime (19) beat some of 135 countries to get into the finals in Madrid. In the week before yesterday, Canada beat Italy, the USA, Australia and Russia to reach the final against Spain.

So, that’s why My Beloved and I high-tailed it home after nibblies and tea, to sit down and watch our young Canadian tennis players try to achieve the until now unachievable. Young Felix put up a great fight against the veteran Spaniard, Roberto Batista Agut (31), but lost in two sets, although the first went to a tie break. Next up, Denis Shapovalov against the world number one and only, Rafael Nadal.It was close: first set went to Nadel 6-3, but the second set went to a tie break and finished up 7-6(7) meaning after the score reach 6-6, the tie-break went to 9-7 for Nadel.

WOW! To quote Tennis Canada,
“What an effort. What a week. What a team.
“They won’t be coming home with the Davis Cup trophy but in reaching the final of the 119-year-old tournament for the first time in the country’s history, the BMW Canadian Davis Cup team will surely have inspired the next generation to pick up a racquet.”
Were we disappointed? Slightly, but to have achieved as much as the youngsters had was in itself a joy for us and the country, according to the sports news. Many are looking forward to achieving something like the USA and its 32 victories! Let’s not be greedy, winning as many as Spain’s 6 would be good.

But that was only the afternoon’s entertainment.
Did you know that the chair umpire of a match such as the final of the Davis Cup or a Grand Slam is paid £3,500 and could, through all major tournaments, earn an annual income of £170,000. The line umpires for the quarter and semi finals of a Grand Slam earn £1,500 with an annual maximum through all the major tournaments of £40,000. Hm!

Dinner, a new recipe of My Beloved’s, a ground pork meatloaf: very juicy with roasted sweet potato and sauteed broccoli.
And wine!

Then our eyes again went to the TV set at 7.30pm for the Grey Cup.

The Grey Cup is a trophy produced by Birks Jewellers that has been part of Canadian sports since 1909, when it was donated by non-mythical Governor General Earl – that’s not his name, that’s his royal title 🙂 – Albert Grey for the Canadian football championship.

Many years ago, when I was young and charming (Gilbert & Sullivan for those not familiar with G&S), My Beloved and I moved from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Now it is said that Winnipeg is the coldest city in North America and perhaps we proved that by producing five children. You have to keep warm at nights. I have always said our son could and did play hockey on outdoor rinks from the beginning of November to the end of March. Besides being cold in winter, it can be very hot in summer. I loved our 18 years in Winnipeg, for the city had everything one could wish for to enjoy life: great restaurants, and you know that is us, multi-cultural events, an excellent symphony orchestra, a to-die-for live theatre, a world-renowned ballet, a lovely park with a zoo, and, best of all, wonderful people. (Despite what you have heard about the record number of murders this year.)

And a great football team. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
However, the last time they won the Grey Cup was way back in 1990, 29 years ago.
And yesterday they were going to play Hamilton Tigercats, who hadn’t won since 1999.
So the game was called Break the Drought game.

Until yesterday, Blue Bombers had made 24 trips to the Grey Cup and won 10 times, so the interest was exceptionally high throughout the country. I recall one very odd Grey Cup win for the Blue Bombers. The game took place in Exhibition Stadium in Toronto in 1962 over December 1st and 2nd. Over two days, you say? This is not cricket. Football lasts only four 15-minute quarters, not days. However, I will never forget watching the game on TV. As it progressed, a fog began to descend over the field and, as time ticked on, the goal posts became hidden, then the players at the ends furthest from the cameras disappeared into the gloom. Finally, it was difficult to see anyone, so the Football Commissioner pulled the game with 9 minutes, 29 seconds remaining and the score, Winnipeg 28 and Hamilton, yes the same Hamilton – different players, though – as we played yesterday, at 27. The game resumed the following day, but the score remained the same. A game never to forget.

Could our team yesterday, after 29 cup-less years break the jinx and win an eleventh?
Hamilton were favoured to win by 4 points. But what do the bookies know? I, however, in my gut felt that they might be right.

No, no, no! Right from the opening play, Winnipeg got a turnover and never looked back as they added touchdowns and field goals and My Beloved and I added more fluid red calories.

So, we were worn out, exhausted from the stresses provided by superb aces, double faults, great backhands down the line, then switch games to turnovers and just inches to go with Winnipeg stopping them more than once and touchdowns and conversions. Wow! What a day!

From Madrid to Winnipeg.
Yes, A Spectacular Day!