by Steve Milton
Steve Milton has spent 33 years of his 42-year sports-writing career at the Hamilton Spectator, most of that as an award-winning columnist. He is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and the Skate Canada Hall of Fame and is also the author or co/author of 25 books.
The defending Ontario Football Conference champions were able to get one guaranteed date at Tim Hortons Field, so they moved to Brantford Bisons Alumni Field.
They’re still the Hamilton Hurricanes, but they’re playing all their home games in Brantford.
The defending Ontario Football Conference champions were able to secure only one guaranteed home date at Tim Hortons Field this season, so they moved all of their games to Brantford Bisons Alumni Field, adjacent to the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre on Highway 403.
“When Forge FC formed and would be playing at Tim Hortons Field, we started working on Plan B,” says Hurricanes president Mike Samuel. “We wanted to have some consistency and not move games around from field to field. Fans, family and friends know our games will all be in one spot, so we’re not a travelling road show.”
OFC regulations dictate that all games be played on turf, not natural grass, and Samuel did look at local high school fields as a home site for the junior (under 23) team, “but it became a logistical problem for us. The problem is that we need change rooms and there’s a cost to paying extra staff to open them up.”
The team still practices in Hamilton, using the venerable HAAA grounds on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and Samuel says that after the season they’ll look at the game-field situation for next year.
“The city hopes we can be back at Tim Hortons Field, but with the Ticats and Forge, it does nudge us down the pecking order.”
With Brian Duguay stepping up to replace retired head coach Jason Hayes and former MacNab Lions quarterback Ethan Belbeck under centre after the aged-out graduation of all-Canadian Jake Marquette, the Hurricanes have a 3-0 record to start the season.
One of their wins came when the Ottawa Sooners forfeited the season opener, which was supposed to be the Hurricanes’ first home game. Last Friday in Brantford, they beat the GTA Grizzlies 51-13. That date was the only one which had been made available to them at Tim Hortons Field. The previous weekend, the Canes travelled to London and edged a strong Beefeaters team 19-16, rallying from a 9-0 halftime deficit.
After playing the Niagara Raiders in St. Catharines this Sunday and travelling to Windsor the following weekend to play the Windsor Fratmen, whom they defeated in the OFC final last year, the Hurricanes play at “home” in Brantford on Saturday, Sept. 21, against Niagara.
In the early going, the six-team OFC seems to be split into two parts. Hamilton, Windsor and London won last weekend’s games against GTA, Niagara and Ottawa, respectively, by a combined score of 183-13.