It’s been 15 years since former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Troy Westwood uttered the words that would lead to Winnipeg’s favourite football party, and former teammate Milt Stegall says the Banjo Bowl is almost — almost — as big as the Labour Day Classic.
In a phone interview with The Start on CJOB 680 Thursday, the former Blue Bombers slotback said he doesn’t know if Westwood’s comments, in which he called the Saskatchewan Roughriders a bunch of “banjo-pickin’ inbreds” was something he planned to say to fuel the rivalry.
“When he made that statement — I think it was after the 2003 season I think somewhere around that — he made that statement. And as they say, the rest is history.“
While the rivalry between the two teams has always been huge, the Banjo Bowl does help cement the rivalry after the Labour Day Classic, he said.
“The fans from Saskatchewan, they come into Winnipeg and it’s a friendly, friendly rivalry,” said Stegall.
“Of course the fans don’t get along during a game but a lot of the individuals are family members … So it’s just a great atmosphere and it goes beyond just what’s going on, on the football field.
“It’s just a joyful time for everyone involved.”
However, Stegall had a few things to say to Bomber fans who believe the team will win because they “almost won” in Saskatchewan last week.
“They’re going to win because they lost the game? I’ve never heard that,” he laughed.
“That’s like saying, ‘Okay I’m going to have a ponytail tomorrow because my hair is smaller now. That’s not how it works!”
“They have a chance because they have a great game and they have some great coaches. But to say they have a chance just because they almost won the game? No, that’s not the philosophy that I live by.”
Asked by a listener who wanted to know about the hashtag he has been using on Twitter with every tweet, #PaperPlates, Stegall said it’s a secret.
“There’s only two people on Earth that knows what that means, and that’s me and my older son. My wife doesn’t know, my mother doesn’t know, my youngest son doesn’t know.
“So you think I’m going to tell some listener? I’m, I’m not going to tell my wife, so I don’t think so.”