By Stephen Weir
The Grey Cup came to a mas’ camp “event” at Nickel 9 Distillery in Toronto’s Junction district on Monday night. For three hours. the Canadian Football League trophy sat on a round bar table in the middle of a room filled with barrels and vats of vodka in the making.
And members of the Tru Dynasty Mas’ Band came out to show their admiration for Argo player Llevi Noel who brought it and to gawk at the slightly battered Cup.
The Toronto Argonauts won the 105th annual Grey Cup game last November and Noel, Argo wide receiver and special teams player, got to borrow the Cup for a day (as does each member of the winning team).
“ I wanted to share the Cup for a little while with my family and friends,” explained Noel. “I took it down to U of T this afternoon, and finished off my day with it here at the distillery.”
Llevi and his family trace their roots to Grenada, but he said he is “a Torontonian through and through.” He attended Toronto’s Western Tech and then went on to the University of Toronto. He was discovered by the Argonauts when they scouted him playing university football.
“You know this year was a remarkable year for the Argos and for me. No one expected us to win it all. I have been with the team for two seasons and I just contracted for another two years.”
The 6-2, 220-pound 26-year old receiver has led the Argos in special team tackles in both of his professional seasons.. His five special team tackles against the Calgary Stampeders in the 105th Grey Cup Game set a new franchise record.
Joining Llevi to toast the Cup with freshly bottled Northern Temple Vodka were his brother Juede, sister Divahd, mother Susanna Noel and stepfather Don Moreland. His older sister, Ivell Noel, was unable to attend.
The Grenadian Canadian Noel family are football fans first, and carnival lovers second. Lievi remembers playing mas’ many summers in the Caribana Kiddies Carnival.
Nickel 9 Distillery is both a new events destination and a vodka distillery. The owners threw open their doors to show off their new space and provided a suitable showcase for the Grey Cup, a trophy which has been part of football in Canada since 1909.
It was donated by Governor General Earl Grey for the Canadian football championship.