Some of you have been asking what the heck has happened to me to become so bitter vs the Montreal Alouettes.
A few of you know the story, for those who don’t, I’m doing this post to get my version out there once & for all.
I started to follow the Als intensively in 2002 (they came back in ’96) the exact date: August 15th 2002 vs Calgary Stampeders, sitting 1st row on 50 yard line on North Side (opposite side of players bench), remembering the hits, the plays that were happening just a few yards from me, I WAS HOOKED ! The next day, I went to Als office to pen my name down for season ticket waiting list (they had a 3 to 4 year waiting list but I got my season tickets in April 2004, I moved out to Gatineau 2 weeks later… but still kept my tickets) & went to a few games in between with individual tickets.
In 2004/2005, I met a great guy: Eric L (Section W / Section U2) who was tired that there was no Alouettes fan forum (you have to remember back then the CFL forum wasn’t as “thriving” as today), so he build www.goalsgo.com hoping to attract Als fans.
After I talked to him on other fan sites, I joined his site & started to make waves with my ideas/opinions. Became a moderator & then the site co-owner with Eric because we had a common passion & similar interest.
Over the years, we came up with a few ideas to promote “our brand” (GoAlsGo) but also to bring in new fans to support the team we loved !
I was breathing Alouettes 24/7/365, heck many of you hardcore CFL fans reading this understand; The final gun at Grey Cup was like a heartbreak/kick to the ball/slap to the face/whatever you want to call it,….”depression” settled in until Canadian Draft, Free Agency, Training camp, Pre-Season games….and Finally Week 1….like many of you $ was NOT an issue when came time to buy merchandise (mostly game worn jerseys), support my team on the road, etc… I was putting my $ where my mouth is !
Do you know many fans that when their team would revamp their website, just out of passion, spent the night clicking on every possible links & do a quality assurance for them, report it to them because you knew that they didn’t have the man power to do so internally ? I was that kind of hardcore fan…(and a bit of a “nutcase”)…
We ruffled some feathers within the organization because we where passionate hardcores, we wanted new ways to promote the team but with the “old boys” mentality that prevailed in the Als front office, a lot of time when we suggested something, the president back then, would tell us that they would not pursue the idea ….
Beginning of 2009, me & Eric L, wanted to create something that people would go WOW, we came up with our 1st Go Als Go scarf:
Before we went public with our scarf, I had already contacted the Als president at that time saying it could be a good way to promote the team…(especially since the CFL was doing some “generic” (cookie-cutter as I call them) for the CFL Western teams). His answer was, there is NO demand, for the amount $ they would invest it wouldn’t make it worth, etc.…same old broken record playing again, all he asked was to not use the official logo on the scarf. (Remember that GoAlsGo website was already in it’s 4th year & we never had any “real” issues about the look of the site with the organization)
It seemed crazy but we spent a few sleepless nights trying to find the right product, the right graphics, making sure the scarf was not overwhelming but at same time just had enough to visually be appealing. (Oh how awful was my 1st draft but thanks to Eric L input, we changed the “scope”), In 2009, internet collaborative platform sucked, so we where doing our stuff in MS Paint, Paint.net, emailing between us a lot & the manufacturer to see what was do-able & not.
This was our “newborn” promo product:
To my amazement when it went on sale, they sold like HOT CAKES ! I was very proud of our work & even prouder to see a “regular fan” with OUR scarf. Heck, we made 0$ on the scarf, because we gave a few to Als players. On a few occasion while I was wearing mine, someone who had 1, also came up to me & asked where I got mine….it was good for the ego, I’ll be honest with that.
We knew we had something in our hands & then (Nov 2009) 97th Grey Cup happened ! I remember walking from McMahon stadium to C-Train & talking to Eric L on my cell already brainstorming ideas for an updated version of our main promo item….did I say I was in a sea of Green 😉
TADA ! Our 2nd scarf:
Again a lot of sleepless night, a lot of disagreement between me & Eric L, a lot of templates, showing drafts of what it could be to people we trusted to ask their input, in the end, we were again very proud of our product.
Come 98th Grey Cup (nov 2010) in Edmonton, I had a few scarfs left, threw them in my luggage since we where in the finals…. Meet some great fans at TweetUp, gave a few scarf to some CFL employees, fans, etc….
Saturday Night was the Als party, then comes a surreal moment, where the wife of 1 of the board members of the Als was sad because she wanted a scarf but I have none left except the one around my neck. Remembering I had 2 at the hotel (mine & girlfriend), she finally got it…she’s happy & her husband likes the scarf …and he basically asks us to talk to them in the new year …
2’peat happens, but this time, me & Eric L are in the stands together & brainstorming about what our updated version of our scarf could be. Déjà-vu all over again, a lot of disagreement, a few templates, input from our friends, we asked help from a friend who’s a graphic designer and his slight change made the scarf pop-out again !
We where so proud of our 2nd scarf, players where wearing them:
Our 3rd “baby’ was longer (nicer fit especially for the O-Lines guys, hey we love those guys !): http://img35.imageshack.us/img35/1733/zmkk.jpg
All was good, until April 2011…. where I get a phone call from Eric L, mentioning the Als sent a cease & desist letter to Go Als Go website to stop immediate use of all the official logos on the website & to take down our scarf from our online store since we’re using the word Alouettes, which is trademarked by them.
I was livid, because a few months before they asked us to contact them to talk….
Basically a new president was named beginning of 2011 & he was cracking down on everyone that was using the trademark (a few years before he even got 1 of Montreal biggest newspaper to change the name of it’s blog because it was using the name of another professional team in Montreal)
Eric L did his technical magic on the site, went back to them asking if they were ok with the changes….
Since we got our brand new batch (of 300) scarfs a few months before the cease & desist (which was our biggest order to date), we where now stuck with inventory (to this day, we still have some unopened boxes in our respective basements)…
And here is where my bitterness began, they knew who we where but instead they decided to flex their legal muscle on a small fan forum that poured in their hearts into supporting a club.
I was also angry because it was my own fault also, when I researched the word Alouettes for trademark on the 1st scarf, I didn’t find anything online…. I’m even madder at the Als that they waited 18+ months after our 1st scarf to let us know they legally owned the trademark.
I fully understand that they are protecting their trademark & that they had no choice to advise us via registered mail to make it official. If I was in their boots, I would have done the same, but it still pisses me off that they knew who we were & they wanted to talk a few month before.
Oh well, with a new president comes a new mentality & a new front office….clean slate…
Stuck with boxes of scarves, I was “en tabarnack”. Some people accused me of doing this for profit, truth is, that every freaking profit we made was put back on the website so it didn’t cost 1 cents to our members or we didn’t have to beg for a donation to pay for server hosting, bandwidth, etc.
Since I already paid for my season tickets in Dec 2010 for 2011 season, I started to go to the games, reluctantly…. 2011 season comes around and surprise: The Als asked RBK to do a “cookie-cutter” scarf…
The last nail in coffin came at the 2011 Grey Cup Alouettes party in Vancouver, where I met the president & board member while I had my scarf around my neck… suddenly I was like the black plague & they didn’t want to be seen inside a 50 foot radius of me….
I then “understood” that this hardcore fan wasn’t welcomed in the “family” anymore, the one that they were promoting, the one where they said that hardcore fans were the backbone of the organization & relied on them in rain, shine, hail, win, monumental win, loss, epic loss, etc….
Being such a loyal fan/ hardcore fan all these years broke my heart… I never do things half-way when I’m passionate, I go full throttle, no “demi-mesure” like we say in french. Sometimes it’s very helpful & sometimes it can halt you quicker than hitting a brick wall at full speed. That’s how I am…..
We brought multiples ideas to the club since 2005 on GoAlsGo, for them to run with it & be successful/try to make a success out of it. I can bring up multiple examples: Fan Club, viewing parties, meet & greet with players/coaches, etc. heck these were regular stuff other CFL teams where doing for their fans. We weren’t re-inventing the wheel… but again, we always got the same answer from the team….
Call me stupid but I renewed my season tickets again in Dec 2011 for 2012 season, deep down I was still in denial of what happened & how I felt about the whole “experience”….
Remember in my case, I live in Gatineau, it’s a 2+ hour drive to the game & from…did I really wanted to pay for gas, parking, food & spend 5 hours on the road & support a team that didn’t “care”….I sucked it up & did it because I had an issue with the front office, not the players that poured their heart on the field !
I renewed my season tickets knowing as a CFL season tix holder I would get “priority” for 100th Grey Cup seats….
And that didn’t go as planned as I finally went with 50$ deposit for Grey Cup seats… so in 2012, 400$ in season tickets, went to 3 games only & sold/gave the rest of my tickets away… the interest wasn’t there…. I AM still bitter to this day…..the only time I personally enjoyed the CFL in 2012 was at the Grey Cup Tweetup where I saw my “family” again….
May 2012 the previous president is gone & a new Als front office is put in place,
So after 2 years & a lot of public “out coming” for my mood about the Alouettes front office, the new Alouettes front office recently extended “an olive branch”… I told them that the conversation would be private between us & since I’m a man of my word, I will keep it that way !
I still love the league, I still have my favorite players on the Als & I wish the players all the success, don’t get me wrong, I can watch every game on TV, except the Alouettes one….
I will not jump on another CFL team bandwagon….
No, I will not buy Ottawa #ALLCAPS season tickets, but might attend a few games….(as they are close to my house)
Some of you know I always liked Edmonton & Calgary teams (even if they dislike each other) and will be keeping a close eye on them & the rest of the league, but will not pour in as much $ as I did previously, so no more Grey Cups for me for a while…. My streak now ends at 9 Grey Cups, 7 consecutive Cups….where I cried of pain & joy on multiple occasion, where I cheered on the team that beat us in the playoffs or boo’ed them & cheered on the Western team.
If you think I don’t like the CFL, those 2 videos still gives me goosebumps:
I met some great folks around the country, thanks to the CFL & I will keep in touch with you, don’t worry about that !
Some of you will say that I should remember the good times I shared with friends, the memorable event where I saw my team win, saw record broken & saw them in comeback wins (ah-hem 97th Grey Cup 😉 )…but when someone breaks my heart or is not true to their word, I break all connections with them, as much as it can/will hurt me & that is what I’m doing with the Alouettes.
It really really really breaks my heart to do so, but I’m doing it for my own good….
Call me crazy, bandwagon jumper, traitor, whatever other acronym you want to throw at me…. I will just disregard it !
I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me…..I’m a grown man & this is not my 1st “heartbreak”…
I never did what I did with the GoAlsGo site to be recognized as the “greatest fan”, we all live our passion differently. GoAlsGo helped me to be more outgoing, not be the shy guy anymore, meet new people, promote the Als, promote MY passion !
Next time you’ll see me at McGill for an Alouettes game, will probably be (in 2014) when Ben Cahoon gets in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame & get his jersey retired by the Alouettes ! I’ll be there to scream Cahooooooon at the top of my lungs, not to support the Alouettes !
– Note to Eric L, thanks man for all the great years on GoAlsGo & passion we shared together !
If you ask my girlfriend, she will say that I loved that team more than my own family (and she’s right), now, that team “doesn’t exist” for me….