Events passed, memories held, community shared

Darian Durant was one of a select few Roughriders to have his image hung on a banner at the now-demolished Taylor Field west grandstand. Don Healy/Regina Leader-Post

It was a funny thing to watch: The Taylor Field west grandstand toppled over as City of Regina crews deconstructed the remaining upper seating sections at the historic site.

I found the event itself rather anti-climatic and uninteresting.

But what I can’t stop looking at is that giant, gaping hole now in Regina’s skyline.

Once the anchor-point for my eyes whenever I scanned the prairie city, the metal-clad box with its always-open upper mouth is now absent, making Regina’s sky seem a bit wider.

As if wanting to fill the void, I can’t help but replay some of my fondest memories from Taylor Field.

One leads to another, however disconnected they may be.

Shuffling along with hoards of shivering football fans on the upper level as we all collectively made our way to the bathroom at halftime breaks of Roughriders games.

Committing the names Kent Austin and Tom Burgess to memory – they’re the first two quarterbacks I saw throw passes for the Roughriders.

Arriving to Riders’ games and anxiously waiting to see if our voucher-pass tickets would land us near to or far from the always loud and sometimes funny drunks in the 200-numbered sections.

Looking down on that green turf, yearning for a chance to maybe, one day, run on it.

Fearing I was about to freeze to death as I watched the Stallions demolish the Stampeders at the 83rd Grey Cup, watching from the highest row of the temporary south stands. That ice wind blasted my face like never before.

My first football play on the field: I was a lanky, grade 10, third-string cornerback. Coach put me in for kickoff duties as the widest player on the right side. “Keep contain, keep contain,” I reminded myself as I hustled down field for a potential tackle.

Scraping my knees and elbows on the old, sand-paper-like turf while making tackles as a starter in grade 11.

Wearing the scabbed-over wounds the next day as badges of pride. We lost every game we played that year.

Playing fullback my senior year and throwing a helmet-to-helmet lead block on the Martin Monarchs’ middle linebacker at the goal line. We both fell to the turf. My running back scampered through the hole for a touchdown. I was so happy.

Sharing the highs and lows of the fickle Roughriders with my loved ones.

Watching my dad turn into a kid at Riders games – he’s always the loudest one cheering on their defence.

Relishing the consistency with which the Roughriders never, ever let a B.C. Lions quarterback find success at Taylor Field.

Walking the long, chilly trek back to our car as we recounted the game, what was and what could have been.

Sitting at mid-field as the Rams battled the Huskies while thick, heavy snow fell onto the turf, making it a white blanket. Crews busily shovelled snow clear every five yards. “I love this province,” I thought to myself.

Cheering wildly as Darian Durant ran in the game-winning touchdown, six yards, in overtime against the Edmonton Eskimos. It was the high point of an otherwise forgettable season.

Sharing the heartbreak of a mediocre, lackluster Roughriders’ loss with my nephew, hoping he’ll get a chance to see the other way the team is capable of playing.

As I look back on time spent and memories had at Taylor Field, I’m left with gratitude.

I’m grateful for the sense of community, the bonding and the sharing that the cobbled-together structure afforded me.

I hope that the city’s new stadium will afford other kids those same rewards.

They’ll stand much longer than any metal and concrete structure.

So long, Taylor Field. You will be missed and remembered.