With the Revelstoke Forum opening it’s doors to spectators for a regular season game for the first time in over a year, fans will have to get reacquainted with cheering on the Grizzlies.
Whether it’s pots and pans, plastic bottles full of bottle caps, or a good-old-fashioned yell, there’s plenty of ways to fill the Forum with sound, even at 50 per cent of it’s regular capacity.
Kieran Buggey, a former super-fan who now resides in Victoria, lived in Revelstoke and supported the Grizzlies for years, and is a cheering, jeering and beeramid-building expert.
|Grizzlies fans at the forum in the early 2010’s. (Contributed by Kieran Buggey)|
The Grizzlies supporters group
According to Buggey, what started out as a small group of friends gathering in a house on Mackenzie St. before games in the early 2010s turned into a full-blown supporters group of about 40 crazy fans and converted their house into Grizzly headquarters.
The Grizzlies supporters group was made up of people from a variety of backgrounds: locals to the community, people from Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic and the U.K. to name a few.
The only things they had in common: passion and the pursuit of a good time at the rink.
“For a lot of the people, it was their first introduction to hockey and seeing live hockey,” said Buggey. “We were in the tunnel of the dressing rooms after the game, patting them on the back, doing crazy war-cries. It kind of just became a chaos festival.”
Make some noise
Buggey had a variety of ways to raise the decibel level in the arena.
The Grizzlies support group had a variety of ways to raise the decibel level in the arena, such as filling bottles with caps and shaking them in the air, and according to Buggey, they once bought 250 cow bells to sell to fellow supporters which they sold out of in just two games.
“It was cheap as chips to add a bunch of noise to the stadium,” said Buggey.
The supporters group developed chants and war-cries for specific players on the team.
“There was a player which I’ll never forget in the early couple of seasons, his name was Mobley,” recalled Buggey. “Quite a stocky, strong guy. I don’t know if he was technically supposed to be the enforcer, but he got all riled up by the fans chanting for him. If he checked someone hard, the crowd would just lose their mind. It would get to the other team if you’ve got a guy who’s just trying to hurt people to rally the crowd.”
|Kieran Buggey on the ice with one of the Grizzlies players. (contributed by Kieran Buggey)|
A night to remember
Buggey recalled a special night when the fans stuck around to see the team play in spite of strange circumstances.
“We had a game one night against Kamloops, and the highway was shut down around Salmon Arm. It was supposed to be a 7 o’clock game. They told us the team was delayed, but they opened up the beer garden anyways.”
Even though the away team was delayed for more than six hours, Buggey and a handful of Grizzlies faithful stuck it out, chanting and cheering on the Grizzlies as they warmed up for the delayed game.
When the away team finally did show up, the Grizzlies supporters showed them their appreciation.
“I’ll never forget it, the whole support group stood up and clapped them in to say ‘good for you guys for still showing up’. We certainly weren’t as ruthless on that team that night. It was cool to see a game that started at 2 a.m. still had 40 or 50 supporters.”
|The Grizzlies supporters on the night when the away team was delayed, still partying in spite of the delayed game. (Contributed by Kieran Buggey)|
According to Buggey, supporting the Grizzlies was about the camaraderie formed between those in the stands as much as it was about watching a good game of hockey.
“This is more than just showing up and having a few drinks and yelling. We were there to support the team, we stuck it out until 4 o’clock in the morning,” said Buggey.
A part of the community
Kieran said that the supporters group and the community had a great relationship, and they got behind their antics at the rink and the way they made the Grizzlies games more enjoyable.
“We had a lot of people that would come out and thank us for creating that environment,” said Buggey. “Winters are pretty long for some of those families, and when you don’t ski, this isn’t your tourist town so to speak. I think the team was kind of their thing. They have kids who wanted to play for the team or who did play.”
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