TORONTO - The Toronto Argonauts claimed a place in Canadian football history Sunday when they were crowned the 100th Grey Cup champions over the Calgary Stampeders in front of a sellout crowd in their hometown.
Many of the 53,000 CFL fans packed into Toronto's Roger Centre for the historic game rose to their feet and erupted into deafening roar as the final seconds ticked off the Argos' 35-22 win.
The title is particularly special for the city, whose University of Toronto Varsity Blues team won the first Grey Cup trophy in 1909.
The highly-anticipated, sold-out game Sunday got off to a quick start. Chad Owens, an Argos fan favourite and this year's CFL oustanding player, scored the first touchdown minutes into the game.
The crowd — many dressed in Argos blue — waved flags, blew into plastic horns and bellowed out the team's trademark chant — "Arrrrgoooooooos!" — throughout the high-stakes match between the East and West Division champions.
Those dressed in Stampeders red could also be heard screaming "Go Stamps Go!" at the start, but were given little chance by their team to cheer in the second half of the game.
From the start, both CFL teams had a lot on the line for a win.
Calgary hadn't won a Grey Cup since 2008 and Toronto, which has been struggling for the past few years to increase its fan base, hadn't hoisted the trophy since 2004.
And the last time the Argos won the Grey Cup at home was in 1952 when they beat the Edmonton Eskimos.
Argos fan Justine Bertrand came to the game from nearby Ajax, Ont., with her mother, father, husband and six-year-old son Aedan.
She says football is a family affair and a win for the double-blue will show the rest of Canada that Toronto is a still a football town.
"It would mean a lot to this city because the city has nothing to cheer about right now," Bertrand said. "It will mean a lot to the fans because there are faithful fans in this city that nobody remembers."
Bertrand was ecstatic at the turnout for the game.
"This feels good to see everybody out here," she said.
And although the mood inside the stadium was mainly jovial, the crowd was quick to boo during the game's controversial halftime show.
Both times when a photo of teen idol Justin Bieber was shown on the JumboTron, the crowd erupted into boos.
And when the superstar from Stratford, Ont., hit the stage following performances by Carly Rae Jepsen Jepsen, pop-punk bank Marianas Trench, and Canadian rock legend Gordon Lightfoot, the fans continued with long and enduring jeers.
Governor-General David Johnston, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi also attended the game.
Ford and Nenshi had made a public bet on the outcome of the decisive game, with the mayor of the losing city promising to donate his weight in food to a food bank and wear the winning team's jersey to a council meeting.
Argos fan Jamie Wolodarskym says the Argos are long overdue for a win and a win at home is just icing on the cake.
"It means everything," said the 40-year-old Toronto man.
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Bo Levi Mitchell, Kevin Glenn
Calgary Stampeders quarterbacks Bo Levi Mitchell, left, and Kevin Glenn chat during CFL football practice, Friday Nov. 23, 2012 in Toronto. The Stampeders will play the Toronto Argonauts in the Grey Cup on Sunday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
Joe West, Derrius Brooks
Calgary Stampeders wide receiver Joe West makes a one-handed catch as Derrius Brooks(32) defends during CFL football practice, Friday Nov. 23, 2012 in Toronto. The Stampeders will play the Toronto Argonauts in the Grey Cup on Sunday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
Calgary Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel calls a play during CFL football practice, Friday Nov. 23, 2012 in Toronto. The Stampeders will play the Toronto Argonauts in the Grey Cup on Sunday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
Calgary Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel, right, looks on during CFL football practice, Friday Nov. 23, 2012 in Toronto. The Stampeders will play the Toronto Argonauts in the Grey Cup on Sunday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)
Calgary Stampeders linemen run a drill during CFL football practice for the 100th Grey Cup championship game in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The Stampeders take on the Toronto Argonauts on Sunday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
Toronto Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich laughs during CFL football practice for the 100th Grey Cup championship game in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The Argonauts take on Calgary Stampeders on Sunday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
Fred Bennett; Jamar Wall; Chris Randle
Calgary Stampeders teammates Fred Bennett, left, Jamar Wall, center, and Chris Randle, right, have a close look a the Grey Cup during the 100th Grey Cup West Division Champions Media Lunch in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
Toronto Argonauts defensive end Ricky Foley looks at, but doesn't touch, the Grey Cup trophy during a media Breakfast in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
Calgary Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel, left, and Toronto Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich pose beside the Grey Cup during a news conference ahead of Sunday's CFL Championship in Toronto on Wednesday Nov. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)
Toronto Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray looks to make a pass during CFL football practice for the 100th Grey Cup championship game in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The Argonauts take on Montreal Alouettes on Sunday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
<b>Originally from</b>: Brantford, Ontario How could a man nicknamed "The Great One" not be first on this list? He's the holder of almost every hockey scoring record, and is possibly the best hockey player to ever play the game.
<b>Originally from</b>: Ottawa, Ontario (though she grew up in British Columbia) The winner of the first ever World Cup ski race in 1967, Nancy Greene followed up that victory (along with a slew of others from Canada and the U.S.) with a gold medal at the Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, France (shown here). The Nancy Greene Ski League helps youth across Canada get into competitive skiing.
<b>Originally from</b>: Winnipeg, Manitoba He's one of the most inspirational sports figures anywhere. Fox, missing one leg from cancer, vowed to run across Canada to raise funds for cancer research and treatment. He wasn’t able to complete his monumental run, but his memory serves as a lasting inspiration.
<b>Originally from</b>: Manchester, Jamaica; immigrated to Oakville, Ontario as a pre-teen Former world record holder in the 100m sprint, Donovan Bailey won two gold medals for Canada at the 1996 Olympics, and was the first Canadian to run the 100m in under 10 seconds.
<b>Originally from</b>: Mississauga, Ontario One of the legends in Canadian rowing, Silken Laumann has won three Olympic medals for the country — a bronze in 1984 and 1992 (shown here), following a terrible accident and very quick rehab, as well as a silver in 1996.
<b>Originally from</b>: Floral, Saskatchewan The bridge between hockey’s past and present, Gordie Howe played hockey professionally for five decades and won four Stanley Cups along the way.
Gilles And Jacques Villeneuve
<b>Originally from</b>: Richelieu, Quebec Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve (pictured) are Canada's racing dynasty. Father Gilles was a legend, despite <a href="http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2007/05/08/gilles-villeneuve-his-victories-remembered/">only winning six races</a>, thanks to his massive fanbase and terribly unfortunate death. Son Jacques has won a PPG Indy Car World Series Champion and Indianapolis 500 Winner, as well as the only Canadian to have won the Formula One World Championship.
<b>Originally from</b>: Kingston, Ontario Winner of the first Olympic gold medal in the Men’s triathlon at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Simon Whitfield, capped it off with an equally dramatic silver medal in Beijing eight years later.
<b>Originally from</b>: Neufchâtel, Quebec Myriam Bédard, a biathlete, won a bronze in the biathlon in Albertville's 1992 Olympics (shown here), the first time women were allowed to compete in the sport. She also won golds in the 7.5 km sprint and 15 km race in Lillehammer's Olympics. Though she has plagued by controversy in recent years, her athletic prowess remains impressive.
<b>Originally from</b>: Parry Sound, Ontario One of the best defencemen to put on skates, Bobby Orr remains the only defenceman to win the NHL’s scoring title, and still holds the record for most points and assists in a season.
<b>Originally from</b>: Burnaby, British Columbia Likely the best-known face in Canadian soccer, Christine Sinclair has been Soccer Player of the Year seven times, and led her team to a bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012.
<b>Originally from</b>: London, England; moved to Kitchener, Ontario at age 12 The two-time gold medal winner in boxing at the Olympics, Lennox Lewis only had two recorded defeats in his 20-year career.
<b>Originally from</b>: Port Alberni, British Columbia Rick Hansen is probably Canada's most famous Paralympic athlete, winning three golds, two silvers and one bronze between 1980 and 1984. But it was his Man in Motion World Tour, which covered 40,000 km around the world, that could be his greatest accomplishment.
<b>Originally from</b>: Edmonton, Alberta No second-fiddle to Gretzky, Mark Messier led the Oilers to their fifth Stanley Cup without the Great One and then ‘guaranteed’ New York that the Rangers would win their first Cup in four decades. He delivered.
Catriona Le May Doan
<b>Originally from</b>: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan When it comes to speed skating, Catriona Le May Doan can't be caught (see what we did there?). The first woman to break the 38-second barrier for the 500 m, the only woman to set eight consecutive World Records in one distance, and oh yes, the recipient of two golds and a bronze at the Olympics, Le May Doan is the stuff of legends.
<b>Originally from</b>: Montreal, Quebec The first hockey player ever to score 50 goals in one season, Maurice Richard is possibly the most famous Montreal Canadien ever. He also won the Stanley Cup 8 times — which isn't, by the way, the record. That belongs to Richard's brother, Henri Richard, who won the Cup 11 times.
<b>Originally from</b>: Saint-Isidore, Quebec As ultimate fighting gains in popularity, Georges St-Pierre (or GSP) is the man to watch, as the winner of seven consecutive welterweight title defenses. He's also the reigning Welterweight Champion of the World.
<b>Originally from</b>: Johannesburg, South Africa; his family emigrated to Canada when he was 18 months old, living in Regina, Saskatchewan and eventually Victoria, British Columbia The best basketball player to come out of Canada, two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash was the sparkplug for the scorching Phoenix Suns offence of the late 2000s.
<b>Originally from</b>: Winnipeg, Manitoba The only athlete ever to win multiple medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, the cyclist and speed skater is a well-known figure across the nation.
Ferguson "Fergie" Jenkins
<b>Originally from</b>: Chatham, Ontario Canada might be known for its hockey players, but Ferguson Jenkins was the first Canadian to win the Cy Young Award, as well as the country's first Baseball Hall of Fame member.
<b>Originally from</b>: Richmond Hill, Ontario A silver at Lillehammer and a silver at the Nagano Olympics were both impressive — but we all know figure skater Elvis Stojko is best known for being the first person to land a quadruple-double jump combination.
<b>Originally from</b>: Montreal, Quebec One of the most electrifying players and natural scorers to ever take the ice, Mario Lemieux won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins and rivals Wayne Gretzky as one of the best hockey players ever.
<b>Originally from</b>: Winnipeg, Manitoba Think about this — speed skater Cindy Klassen has won five medals in a single Olympic games, holds the world record for both the 1,500 m and the 3,000 m ... she swept all four distances in the World Allround Championships.
<b>Originally from</b>: Calgary, Alberta Though Canada's gymnastics reputation is on the rise thanks to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/09/canada-medal-count-london-olympics_n_1733628.html">Rosie MacLennan</a>, it all started with Kyle Shewfelt, the first Canadian to ever win a medal (a gold one!) in gymnastics at the 2004 Games.
<b>Originally from</b>: Quebec City, Quebec Fiery, temperamental and one of the best goalies to put on the mask, Patrick Roy won four Stanley Cups and three Vezina trophies.
<b>Originally from</b>: Ottawa, Ontario Although his Olympic record isn't stellar (so far), figure skater Patrick Chan was the World Champion in 2011 and 2012, as well as a five-time Canadian champion. He also has the world record in points for free skating.
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<b>Originally from</b>: Thurso, Quebec In a club as storied as the Canadiens, Guy Lafleur is the all-time leading scorer for the franchise, and is a member of both the Hockey Hall of Fame and Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
<b>Originally from</b>: Quebec City, Quebec Two silvers and a bronze at the Olympics is nothing to sneeze at, but that record for speed kayaker Caroline Brunet pales in comparison to her other wins, like ten golds, seven silvers and four bronzes at World Championships from 1994 to 2003.
<b>Originally from</b>: Toronto, Ontario Muhammed Ali once said of amateur heavyweight champion George Chuvalo, "He's the toughest guy I ever fought!" He fought all the legends in the sport, and was known to be a highly durable fighter.
<b>Originally from</b>: Sarnia, Ontario The only Canadian to ever win the Masters Tournament (in 2003), Mike Weir is the country's greatest golfer to date.
<b>Originally from</b>: New Westminster, British Columbia Voted the American League Most Valuable Player in 2006, Morneau is one of the best baseball players ever produced by Canada. Fun fact: His number, 33, is in honour of goalie Patrick Roy.