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10-23-2012, 11:34 PM
Hamilton Tigers
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Hamilton would be better.

Any Markham team would just be considered a second class Toronto team. Once the Leafs start winning many, if not most Markham fans would jump ship.

Hamilton is a real city, not a Toronto suburb, that has a long tradition of rivalry with hogtown.

And for the other non GTA citizens who "hate" Toronto, I'm sure they'd love to cheer for Hamilton ( London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Burlington, St Catherines, Brantford etc.)

Sports fans, of course, tend to identify with professional athletes as representatives of their home cities, regardless of how simplistic civic characterizations may be. The Ti-Cats, then, are seen as hard-workers to match their city’s blue-collar culture. The Argos are characterized as metropolitan, over-paid, flashy and cocky players. Matt Dunigan, who quarterbacked for both the Argos and the Ti-Cats in the 1990s, said, “I’ve always felt that Toronto-Hamilton was a battle of culture more than teams. Big city versus small hard-working city.”

There’s a whole host of possible reasons why Hamilton’s grudge against Toronto carries beyond football. Geographic proximity and traditional civic boosterism obvious intensify it. And Torontonians do have a tendency to look down our noses at them, unable to see beyond the steel factories, heavy manufacturing and pollution-choked skyline visible from the Burlington Skyway. But the roots run far deeper.

Samuel Philips Day, an Englishman visitor, noted the rivalry in 1864. Although he praised Hamilton as an “ambitious little city” in the wilderness, he remarked with bewilderment that “the only predominant passion observable amongst the population resolves itself into a sort of harmless rivalry, or more properly, emulation of Toronto.” Another traveler in 1857 predicted that Hamilton was destined to be the leading city of Canada West. Although it developed into an indispensable industrial centre, Hamilton was overlooked as provincial capital and Toronto surpassed it as the commercial centre of the province.
Not only that, Hamilton has historically resented the intrusion of Torontonians, such as Allan MacNab, in the financial and political affairs of their city. Later, Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard bought the financially insolvent Tiger-Cats in 1978, and, despite on-field success, repeatedly threatened to move Hamilton’s only big-league team to Toronto. More recently, Toronto is to blame for any thwarted civic ambitions in Hamilton, whether it’s the brain drain to the mega-city or the failed attempts to land an NHL team. The dislike runs so deep that when a new radio station needed to curry favour with the locals, they started a “Toronto Sucks” billboard campaign. But, hey, Toronto is used to this, and builds civic pride out of how much the rest of Canada hates us.

The Toronto-Hamilton rivalry reflects the best and worst sports have to offer. Games are so heavily invested with historical resonance that fans and players get genuinely excited about the games, regardless of win-loss records.

the hatred for each team runs far deeper than just among fans.

“I hate them tremendously. Start at the top, the city of Toronto, their players, their fans. When we beat them, everybody in Hamilton feels a lot happier the next day. All the neighbours on my street are always fired up,” said Tiger-Cats guard Pete Dyakowski, 28, a five-year veteran of the inter-city gridiron war.

“There’s definitely a different tone in the stands when the Argos are in town. The players feel it too. Playing them so many times, you end up hating them. Everyone in Hamilton hates the Argos.”
The tradition is here too,” Barnes said. “The fans look at us as white-collar workers and Hamilton are blue-collar workers. There’s hatred between the two teams and I’m looking forward to it.”

Hamilton linebacker Kevin Eiben played for the Double Blue for 11 years, including the 2004 Grey Cup winning season, before signing with the enemy as a free agent in the off-season, so he’s experienced the bitterness from both sides.

“I love playing this game and now that I’m on the other side I get the chance to actually have fans who are supporting me and not getting booed as I run out onto the field,” Eiben said. “It’s a huge rivalry, man. I’m surprised nobody gets kicked out of the game. There’s usually a brawl. There’s usually a fight. We don’t like one another and that’s just the way it’s been for 90 or a hundred years.”

Tiger-Cats slotback Dave Stala, who caught six passes for 96 yards in last week’s 39-36 loss to the B.C. Lions, said the players take this game personally.

“Being from Hamilton, I’ve seen the fights growing up. It gets pretty physical and in this heat a lot of tempers will be flying so you’ll probably see some scuffles,” Stala said. “The fans make it a different issue. But we’re fighting for a win and that’s the most important thing on Saturday night.”

I grew up in Hamilton, a city that exists somewhere beyond the 40 miles of unmoving traffic currently occupying the QEW.

It’s a proud place and in no instance more so than in its ongoing rivalry with Toronto. Of course, Canada’s financial and cultural capital has got so big for its britches it hardly knows there is a rivalry with poor old, rusty old Steeltown. But there is.

Toronto may have all the money and, for a week or two, all the movie stars. But Hamilton has . . .

Well, what Hamilton has is being Hamilton. Which is to say, not being Toronto.

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