Last night the Bombers took on and defeated the B.C. Lions at home, 25-20. It was an emotional win for the team, coming as it did just two days after the death of Defensive Line and Assistant Head Coach Richard Harris, of a heart attack on Tuesday. To be honest, I had no idea at all who Richard Harris was before I heard of his death on Tuesday, but from all I have been able to gather, from reading and from some contact with people who knew him, he was more than just a great coach, he was also a great man. This article from the National Post sums that up fairly nicely.
So last night, the Bombers went out and played their hearts out for Coach Harris as they took on the Lions. The defense was clearly fired up all game long, and the offense, although it struggled at times, came through went it counted most. Most notably, the much maligned Alex Brink did a more than adequate job of filling in for Buck Pierce after Pierce went down with another injury. Brink led the Bombers on the go ahead touchdown drive, picked up a couple of key first downs and managed the clock well at the end of the game. For a change, the team also played with a great deal of discipline, not taking the foolish penalties that have hurt them so much in the past. As a result the Bombers are now 4-1 and for the time being, are in first place in the CFL East, with a half game lead over the Montreal Alouettes.
Now comes the hard part. As difficult as last night’s game must have been for the Bombers as a team, they were to a certain extent, carried along by a wave of support from across the entire country. However, when they head back to the practice field in the next couple of days, they will do so without the presence of Richard Harris. He will not be there to greet the players and to give them their hugs. He will not be there to encourage the players who have had difficult weeks. Yet, the season will go on, and so will the players grief.
As fans also, the season will go on, and in many ways we are liable to forget about the loss of Coach Harris. Now, this isn’t to suggest that we shouldn’t question when the coach decides to kick on third and short. Or wonder why it is the ball isn’t getting into the hands of Fred Reid. Nor am I trying to suggest that any of the Bomber’s would wish to use their grief as an excuse for anything that happens on the field. I just we all, and I include myself here, remember that the Bombers will be dealing with this grief as much in October as they are now, and they will need our support and encouragement as much then as they do now.
From all I’ve heard and read, this is the best tribute that we as fans could pay to Coach Harris.
REST eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him. Amen.