Heartbreak in Hamilton: Ticats lose Grey Cup in OT after nail-biter against Winnipeg

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats lost the Grey Cup game in front of a hometown crowd, but the players and the people cheering them on managed to win over some rival fans.

Hamilton Ticats lose Grey Cup, but wins hearts of some fans who flocked to city to watch

A Hamilton-Tiger Cats fan holds a scarf up to their face during the final minutes of the CFL's Grey Cup game. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat Hamilton 33 to 25 in overtime. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

It was too good to be true — at least that's what Hamilton Tiger-Cats fan Nicole Barbour says.

"Kudos to Winnipeg, ya did it. Thought we had it, I really thought we had it," she said.

Had the Ticats beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, they would've won the Grey Cup in their home town.

It would've been their first Grey Cup since 1999. Their first CFL championship win at home since 1972.

History did repeat itself on Sunday — just not that history.

Winnipeg beat Hamilton for the Grey Cup in 2019 and on Sunday, made it two consecutive Grey Cup wins over the southern Ontario city.

"How is this possible, again? Again," Ticat fan Vanessa Howarth said in disbelief.

"Going into the fourth quarter ... everyone was pretty confident we were going to come home with the cup. We literally were standing in the stands saying, 'don't blow it, don't blow it.'" 

The game didn't start that way though.

The Hamilton-Tiger Cats say 26,324 fans were in attendance at Tim Hortons Field for the Grey Cup game, setting a new attendance record. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Hamiltonian Brian Simmons called it an "emotional roller coaster."

Winnipeg got the first points on the board, leading by seven points before Hamilton scored a touchdown. In the third quarter, the Ticats padded their lead and, at one point, in the fourth quarter it was 22 to 10 for the Ticats.

Brampton, Ont., resident Chelsea Green — also known as DJ Dem Ones who was an opening act with hip-hop artist Haviah Mighty — said the energy in the stadium and nearby streets was contagious.

"It's a phenomenal feeling, the crowd is huge, it's insane. The energy is unreal," Green said.

Some fans cheered, screamed and stomped while others blew into horns and kazoos.

Other locals watched from outside of the stadium while some gathered around monitors in the tailgate section for the game and the half-time show led by Arkells.

Streets in the Stipley neighbourhood looked like a sea of black and gold during various points of the day.

A Hamilton Tiger-Cats fan holds a sign that says 'Don't run outta juice.' The Ticats lost in overtime. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

The stadium saw a record-breaking 26,324 fans according to the Ticats. Some people in attendance said they were concerned about potentially getting COVID-19 — particularly as the omicron variant spreads — but felt safe because of vaccine mandates.

The momentum in the game started to shift as Winnipeg stifled the Ticats offence. It was tied 25 to 25 heading into overtime before the Blue Bombers shut down the hometown team.

Ticats fans went from roaring in the stands to shuffling out of Tim Hortons Field dejected.

But fans in attendance said they were still grateful to watch the game live.

"The atmosphere ... is absolutely bananas. There's a huge sense of community," said Haviah Mighty (she was cheering for the Ticats).

Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans embrace after the team scored a touchdown during overtime against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the Grey Cup game. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

And while not everyone in the city was pleased to host a Grey Cup and most locals are upset about the end result, Hamilton managed to win the hearts of some rival fans.

"Hamilton put on a really good show, a great venue, and they came out on the losing end but they should be proud as a city," said Toronto Argonauts fan Ryan Driscoll.

Blue Bomber fan Kurtis Perkins also said Hamilton grew on him.

"Being from central Winnipeg, I've never even come to Ontario ... coming to Hamilton, I feel like I'm at home," he said.

"You've got people from all over Canada ... you got everyone here, it's great, it's the best thing ever."


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.