As the rain poured and the temperature dropped, the main event to this very grey weathered edition of North Toronto’s Red and Grey Day was about to get underway. The Senior Boys Football Team appeared, one-by-one, their cleats clattered on the pavement before entering the field of play. The band started playingNorth Toronto’s school song as students, staff, parents, and NT alumni sung and clapped along.
Eastern Commerce, the visiting team, let out a belting chant, “Let’s go Saints!” This chant was heard on the other end and countered by our gridiron warriors in red and grey. The “N-T-C-I, N-T-C-I!” chant silenced the opposition, fans, and band. Even the sizzle of hot dogs at the BBQ station simmered down. Colloquial chatter and cheers were drowned out by the volume of the Norsemen. Right from the get go it was clear that we were playing to win, and win in front of home support.
Standing near the sidelines, I overheard a conversation between two freshmen. One kid, whose face was red and attitude was grey, began begging his friend: “It’s so cold out, I’m flippin’ freezing, and this is boring. Can we cut?” First of all, who uses the word ‘cut’ to imply leaving? Second of all, why complain? He never experienced having to trek to Northern to see our Norsemen play a home game.
For those of you who do not know why this home field is so important, especially on Red and Grey Day, it’s because this is the first Senior Boys Football game played at the school for over half a century. Before the field, NT students and staff had to march over to Northern on Red and Grey Day, in order to watch our Norsemen. Playing a home game at the field of our adversaries created a hostile environment with some consequences: objects would get thrown and fans and players alike would get verbally abused. Not the ideal environment when you envision a home game.
Now, with the construction of Northern’s field in progress, their sports teams have to walk toEglintonParkfor practices. It gives me, and the whole student body, pleasure seeing Northern’s Football Team glance onto our home field in utter jealousy as they trek over to our former practice grounds. Talk about a taste of your own medicine, Red Knights!
To the niner who thought the temperature was too cold and football was too boring, I hope you stayed and watched. I highly doubt that you did because you had to ‘cut’. Trust me, you missed a heck of a game.
Eastern Commerce kicked off the game to the sweet sounds of the NT’s marching band playing Gary Glitter’s classic, Rock and Roll: Part I and II. Hey, Hey, Heyyyyyy indeed! NT’s first drive resulted in a two-and-out. Luckily, on Eastern Commerce’s second play from scrimmage, the Saints fumbled the ball and North Toronto recovered. On the ensuing drive, NT rumbled down 53 yards of the field. With NT on the two-yard line, Quarterback Jack Hull handed the ball off to running-back Liam Murray who found a hole in the defence and punched the ball into the end-zone. The first half was still young and NT led 6-0.
With 6:32 left in the second quarter, NT’s defence picked up their second fumble of the game. The Norsemen held Eastern Commerce to no first downs in the first half. Starting at the 40 yard line, Centre, Charles Kim, snapped the ball to Quarterback Jack Hull who made a beautiful spiralled pass to the on-running receiver who took the ball all the way into the end-zone. NT put up another six spot and this time converted the field goal to make the score 13-0.
During the half time show,North Toronto’s Spirit Squad performed for the shivering supporters. People went to the BBQ station as hotdogs, burgers and beverages were being served. Some went for the food, and others went for the warmth.
Student Council President Isaac Marlow-Dilworth manned the green communications tent. Sideline humour took place as the commentators started joking around with player bios. Slot back, Nick Giancola, was introduced as “5’9” tall, weighing 165 lbs, he likes long walks on the beach, and, ladies, he is single!” Laughter came from the crowd but the shenanigans were stopped shortly after they started.
Eastern Commerce only managed two points againstNorth Toronto’s defence. “Our defence was strong,” stated linebacker and back-up quarterback, Andrew Kim. “We stuck to our assignments, got forced fumbles, interceptions here and there, and our offense was steady in moving the ball. Overall, we played a great game of football and deserved to win.”
And win they did. The Norsemen beat the Saints, 13-2. Our Boys christened the new field with style in what was a defensive and offensive showcase put on display by North Toronto for our first and most important win of the season, with, hopefully, many more to come.