A Fitting Symbol of a Trying Season

Article excerpt

These have been trying times for Bomber fans, what with being stuck back in a stinky old stadium they were promised they'd never have to sit through another game in, and with the team being mostly bottom-feeder fare for otherwise high-flying clubs.

And there is the matter of the Big Blue's faithful being furious at the way the front office has imposed its no-outside-food-or-beverage rules. That latter lament being symbolized by the banning of outside water bottles.

Which is why, perhaps, the fans looking for something to feel good about during the Aug. 16 game against Hamilton were so awestruck by the mysterious appearance of a hawk-like bird that perched itself so close among them they could have touched it.

Instead, it was the fans who were touched by the bird's strange presence -- sitting so still on an upper-deck railing with a view, as if watching the game below.

All of which helps explain why the story and a photo of the bird quickly took flight in cyberspace last week.

It even moved one woman in the stands to write to the Free Press's Random Acts of Kindness column (See page G10) in an effort to thank the fans for the way they treated the bird with such respect; a manner of behaviour, curiously enough, many Bomber fans complained they hadn't seen modelled much recently at the old football yard.

In her letter, Annette Fleming, who was attending the game with her husband, Larry Wiebe, recalled when she first noticed the bird.

There was a commotion in the first few rows of sections 3 and 3A.

People had their cellphones out taking photos. But, as she noted, nobody was bothering the bird and, despite the noise and occasional roar from the crowd, it didn't budge.

And when the game ended and the people around began leaving, the bird remained motionless.

Fleming concluded the bird was either ill or too weak to fly.

I should mention something important here; Fleming is a vet. As in veterinarian. And acting instinctively, when most of the spectators had left, she drew close, and then even closer. First covering the hawk's head, and then wrapping it in her jacket. As those who had lingered watched, Fleming examined the bird, and after finding no apparent problems -- "other than it was very thin" -- she took it back home to her clinic at the Oakbank Birds Hill Animal Hospital. …