From Alabama to Edmonton, Ron Montgomery has traveled a long way for the 2018 Grey Cup.
And this will be his third time doing just that.
Montgomery has followed the CFL for years – dating back to the days of hall of fame quarterback Dieter Brock – and gets a kick out of following college players from his area as they move from the SEC (the NCAA’s South Eastern Conference) to the CFL.
In fact, he started a Facebook group called CFL fans in SEC country for people in the area to talk about the league.
“There’s a lot of good players that went to Auburn and Alabama and Mississippi State and LSU and some of those schools that are now playing in the CFL,” Montgomery pointed out.
Including two on his favourite team – the Roughriders.
“I’m an Auburn fan and I know you got two good Auburn players on the Riders in Nick Marshall and Tre Mason and really enjoyed watching them play this year.”
But it wasn’t Mason or Marshall that made Montgomery a Roughrider fan. In his travels to games – mostly in eastern Canada to start – he met people from all over the league but was naturally drawn to the Saskatchewan fans.
“(We) met a lot of people from Saskatchewan and just kind of gravitated to that team,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to meet (Riders head coach Chris Jones), he lives down here, not too far away from where we live, and we think he’s really a great coach.”
Montgomery has also attended two games at Mosaic Stadium in the last few years and “met all kinds of great people and formed some really good lifelong friendships.”
So of course when Montgomery booked his Grey Cup tickets he had hoped that the Saskatchewan Roughriders would be there, but with them out the atmosphere of the festival alone was enough for him to come along anyway.
“I’ve never really seen anything like it, just the way that all of the different fan bases come together have a good time and intermingle,” Montgomery said shortly after arriving in Edmonton. “We met a lot of great people. We have good friends that are Ti-Cat fans and Argos fans and Redblacks fans. We enjoy visiting.”
“The whole league, the fans, the players the coaches are all very approachable,” he added.
As for who he thinks is going to win, Montgomery isn’t sure. Though he seems to slightly favour the Redblacks.
And one thing is for sure – he was one of those cheering the loudest at last night’s award show when Jones won CFL coach of the year.
“There is nobody that works harder at any level of coaching,” he said a few hours before the on Thursday ceremony. “He is running camps all year round, searching for players and coming up with people like Nick Marshall who was off everybody’s radar… I sure hope he wins it and I think it’s much deserved.”