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Among the Madness at the Tailgate

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Akil at the tailgate | Photo Gallery

They convened the latest reunion of the Leafs Nation at York and Bremner and the people came from the farthest reaches of the Blue and White Universe.

The event was the Coke Fans First game, a contest in which not one patron paid one dime to watch the Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres.

The game was kicked off by a tailgate party, comely puck bunnies, a road hockey game that included Leafs alumni and a concert.  The event swelled with thousands of people hoping to win free tickets.

“We came to hopefully get some tickets,” said Heather Carnie, who was at the event with her significant other Chris Thompson. The pair drove south from Bobcaygeon for a simple reason.

“We’re hoping to get tickets,” she said. “I’ve never been to a game.”

Chris has. “I’ve been to dozens,” he said. “It’s nothing like television, much more exciting.”

Wayne Disotel and Tom Heatley, two longtime buddies from Cornwall, live in Ottawa. They too were trolling for ducats. “We had already been to the Bills game on Sunday and we’ll take in the Jays as well. We thought maybe we could score some Leafs tickets.”

Disotel said he could not pass judgment on the Leafs’ tailgate party. He had nothing to compare it with, being in Ottawa and all. “I’d never go to an Ottawa one,” he said. “I’m a Leafs fan.”

A few feet away, another couple. Hamilton’s Mike James is wearing a Habs sweater. His girlfriend, Melissa James, wears Darcy Tucker’s home white number 16.

“It’s a love-hate relationship,” said James.

“Opposites attract,” she says.

He is 21. She is 18. Smart move on his part. When she matures, she’ll want no part of a guy dressed like that.
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