July 29, 2022

Make Yourself at Home

Everyone always wants to feel comfortable in their own surroundings.

For instance, Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson consistently preaches to his team to defend the McMahon turf.  After all, your record at home can often make-or-break a season.

But this is also a call to all Calgarians to be at McMahon Stadium and make it your home away from home.

That’s the hope every week, but this particular one is shaping up to be extra special.

The 4-1 Stampeders host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday at 5 p.m. in the team’s annual Family Day game – an outing which will include a plethora of free pre-game activities at the South Practice Field’s Gridiron Gardens starting two hours before kickoff. The party will then move inside where Family Day content will be prominently featured throughout the battle between the Stamps and Bombers.

And speaking of football, a victory over the mighty Blue and Gold would earn Calgary its 400th home win in franchise history.

The bottom line is: This is an event you don’t want to miss.

“The next game is always the most important game,” said veteran receiver Reggie Begelton. “But if we really want to put a stamp on it, this is a huge game for us. The fact that Winnipeg is on top right now and if we want to beat the (team with the) top record, then this is priority No. 1. But in saying that, we can’t put that pressure on ourselves – we’ve just got out there and handle business and play Stampeder ball.”

With a current all-time home record of 399-213-10, Calgary’s 64.95 winning percentage as a host squad is the very best in league history.

Their first home win came on Aug. 31, 1946, and their 100th, 200th and 300th also came in the month of August. But Begelton knows Stamps fans have high expectations if they are going to come out on Saturday to help make certain this particular milestone takes place in July.

“It’s very important to win at home, especially if we want butts in the stands,” encouraged the CFL all-star and Grey Cup champion. “We better come out here and give them what they want. We’re out here to win a game and that’s what we expect to do.”

Calgary’s longstanding success at home dates back to their days at the since-demolished Mewata Stadium from 1945-59. The Red and White then moved to McMahon where they have continued their dominance at the venue situated along Crowchild Trail.

Included in their home-win tally are a club-best winning streak of 27 games, four undefeated seasons and a winning record in every decade but one. Speaking of 10-year stints, the Stamps had a winning rate of 84% or greater at home throughout both the 1990s and 2010s.

“When you come out here and try to do a job and you have people that support you in your job, it’s a big energy boost,” said Begelton. “The fact that you get people out here cheering for you, we use that energy and we love to play for our fans. That’s what we want to do.”

Despite a 2-0 start at McMahon this year and three straight regular-season wins when Winnipeg has come to town, this game won’t be easy for the Horsemen. The back-to-back-Grey-Cup-champion Blue Bombers are 7-0 so far in 2022 and narrowly edged the Stamps two weeks ago in Manitoba.

“With the momentum swings, it’s vital that the crowd is into it when Winnipeg’s offence is on the field,” urged Begelton in advance of undoubtedly the biggest game on the entire CFL calendar thus far. “It disrupts their entire scheme – it’s hard to hear and it’s hard to get in a rhythm. It really helps as an extra player (for us). Some college stadiums in America, with 11 people on the field, they call the fans the 12th man, because it really is. It makes a difference.”

You can count on the team being ready.

Can they count on you to show up and make some noise for the chance to see home win No. 400?

“Come and enjoy a really good game,” Begelton declared. “You won’t be disappointed. You can come out here while the weather is beautiful. If you’re going to come out or contemplating coming to a game, this is the one to go to.”

Do it for the Stamps.

Do it for the city.

You’ll be glad you did.

It’s been a long five weeks apart, and we can’t wait to welcome you home.