You’ll be able to watch the Alouettes’ parade to celebrate their Gray Cup win Wednesday at 11 a.m. on RDS and RDS.ca.
MONTREAL – Tears welled up in Kristian Matteo’s eyes when he talked about the privilege of being the first to lift the Gray Cup. It wasn’t the lack of sleep that made him tender, but the love that reigns in the Alouettes locker room.
As he likes to say with a smile, he said of himself “as an old man” from the team that he wants to be among the first to experience this ecstasy. But it touched him to see that the group was thinking of him.
“It was special. The day before the game, Marc-Antoine Dequoy came to me to say: ‘By the way, you are the one who will lift the cup first,’ commented Matte without hiding his feelings.
“Guys, we love each other … When a teammate tells you that, it shows that everyone wanted to win for each other,” the 38-year-old dean of the club described ahead of the Alouettes parade that will start at 11:30 a.m. from the corner of Maisonneuve and Crescent to the entertainment district.
Inundated with requests for an interview – and especially congratulations – Dequoy came to explain what led to this conversation with Matteo.
“It all started with a joke, who will lift the cup first? I don’t know, but the other one will be the cameraman,” Dequoy said with a laugh. But I continued the discussion and everyone answered Christian. No one had spoken to him directly about it so I told him ‘You are the first to lift the Gray Cup, I hope you know that’. He replied, with wit, ‘Don’t worry, I’d do it anyway.’ »
“I only waited three years and it seemed like a long time. I can’t imagine waiting 13 years. But that was not even a question, it was certain that it would be him. It also shows the respect he has in the team, a veteran and a local guy who has given body and soul to this team. It was such a beautiful moment, you can see it in his reaction. It’s a wonderful story of his resilience and character,” Dequoy continued.
During the player evaluations, conducted on Tuesday, two days after the championship win against Winnipeg, everyone had praise for Matteo. The sharpshooter David Côté was happy to get the chance to do so.
“It’s amazing, he’s been here for 13 years. He lived through the glorious years and the most difficult ones. He went through 1001 changes and remained an influential player in the team. I think it’s the least we can do, naturally he’s the one to bring it up first. I wouldn’t see anyone else doing that,” Côté responded before finding the right words to sum up No. 51’s impact.
“He is the heart of this team. We listen to every part. I have been around him for three years, he is a teammate and a golden friend. He always thinks of others before himself, often giving advice based on his experience. When that happened, I thought a little about the story of Raymond Bourque. Yes, Kristian already had the championship, but he was a reserve, it’s not the same. It’s really cool for him, it’s a great achievement, you couldn’t have dreamed of anything better,” Côté drew an interesting parallel for both the athlete and the kindness of the person.
An emphasis on Quebec culture that pays off
The testimonies of Matteo, Dequoy and Côté only prove that coach Jason Maas succeeded in his mission.
“Coach Maas wanted us to become a very united group. We have been working in this direction for several years. There has been a change in the right direction. Then Danny (Maciocia, GM) arrived, the new owner and the new coach. Everyone is united, you can see an old man, like me, having fun playing table tennis with a recruit. There’s not a guy I don’t like on this team, it’s very special,” Matte underlined as pride returned to the Alouettes.
“Absolutely! I was a reserve (in 2010) the first year. But to be on the field and make the last touchdown, it’s indescribable. I wish everyone could experience that once in their life,” he wished.
The unique journey undertaken by the Alouettes is based on several unifying elements such as the importance of discovering Quebec culture – including French – and being interested in it.
“It gave me something to do besides football. I’m still learning if you want to help me. Coach Maas’ message was that it will be more than football, we will learn this culture,” said Kabion Ento aka “Entoception” after his crucial break in the end.
“It brought us closer, we understood our environment better. How can you play for your province if you know nothing about it? “, veteran Shawn Lemon agreed.
“It’s really special, I’ve never seen that before.” It was very pleasant to see that the English speakers accepted the project and greeted us in French in the morning,” said Pier-Olivier Lestage.
“I was welcomed with open arms and I did my best to learn French. I have nothing but love for the organization and the city,” said Darnell Sankey.
“We’re the only French-speaking team in the team, it was really good to create this link between the French speakers and the English speakers,” Tyson Philpot said, having fun saying it wasn’t always easy for the players. with a number in the 80s or 90s to pronounce in French.
The evidence that carries this element of pride is that the Alouettes relied on a dozen Quebec players in this adventure that led to the championship.
“It’s amazing, we’re building our team on local players, it gives a sense of pride. I watched Anthony Calvill become this great quarterback, and then I got a chance to play with him and Ben Cahoon and company. Now it’s my turn, some boys want to play with me. When you see Dequoy, Chagnon, Gagné, Dallaire, there are so many that I can’t list them all. “To win a championship with your childhood team, there’s no better conclusion,” said Matte.
During the week in Hamilton, Matte said he especially wanted to win the Gray Cup so he could smoke another victory cigar, like in 2010, with his great friend Luc Brodeur-Jourdain. Here is a photo of that moment.
Kristian Matte and Luc Brodeur-Jourdain