Mike Morreale
 
Who says you can't go back? Mike Morreale has done it twice now. Mike was originally drafted by the Toronto Argonauts and after a couple of seasons in 'Hogtown' he headed down the QEW to Hamilton. Following five superb seasons in Hamilton, including a Grey Cup win in 1999 (32-21 over Calgary in Vancouver), Morreale jumped at the chance to head back to the Argos, just to keep things in perspective. The 2004 season will see plenty of new opportunities for Morreale. He was presented with another chance to "go home" and this one could be the most special of all. It really is home. "I am looking forward to a return to Steeltown," Morreale offered the CFL Insider recently. "I can't remember being more excited about football than I am now. Leaving Toronto wasn't easy because I have great friendships and the utmost respect for all

the guys but going home is always good."

Morreale spent his university career in Hamilton with the Marauders of McMaster and the thought of returning is always a good one. But since new ownership entered the picture in Steeltown last year, things just became rosier. Bob Young pledged to bring a new sense of business and vitality to the organization and has delivered on all fronts so far. That's not lost on a player like Morreale. "The new ownership group has done an amazing job in its short time in Hamilton," he continued. "From the best scoreboard in Canada, to new coaches, to signing many great free agents. I can't remember the last time Hamilton had so much buzz about football in the city and there isn't any doubt that the real winners will be the fans."


Having been born in Hamilton and played in the city at both the university and professional levels hasn't phased Morreale one bit. He also learned how to deal with any extra pressure to perform in front of the hometown folks. "There were definitely points over my years in Hamilton that I felt pressure to perform, but that is my job. I played high school, university and pro football in Hamilton and I wouldn't change it for the world. When it comes to pressure, I am sure this year will provide the most and I can't wait to get started."

He's not alone in his anticipation of the coming season. The 2004 version of the Tabbies will look like a Mac homecoming. Kojo Aidoo returns to his university roots along with Morreale and they will be led by another Mac alum Greg Marshall who has taken over the reins as Head Coach. Mike has an interesting take on the family reunion. "I have always respected Greg as a person and a coach. He is someone who played the game and played it tough. He also coaches the same way. I never had him coach me at Mac but one thing is for sure - the players play hard for him and I expect the same this year in Hamilton. I have to give credit to Bob Young for finding a local qualified young Canadian coach. I think it will pay off huge in the years to come."

Credit should also go to Young, Lancaster, Marshall and company for bringing quality veterans like Morreale back into the fold. Following a year that saw the 'Cats perform to an all-time low (finishing at 1-17) there is nowhere to go but up for the club. Morreale has a supremely positive attitude about the possibilities and can't wait to reward what some consider to be the best fans in the Canadian Football League by being more than merely competitive. "I am so impressed with the caliber of new Canadians that have been brought to this team," Morreale added. "My belief is the team with the best Canadians ends up in the Grey Cup. Case in point -Montreal and Edmonton the last few years. The same was true for us in 1998 (Grey Cup finalists) and 1999 (Grey Cup champions). Since there is so much parity in this league, any given team has a legitimate shot and I certainly believe we can get there. Thinking big is never a bad thing. It certainly resonates with our fans. Hamilton Ticat fans and Ivor Wynne stadium are notorious for being tough on visiting teams. Our fans are loud and they are football smart. They expect big things from us on every play and they deserve it. I am glad I am not a visitor anymore. I look forward to a numbers growth in fans this year and the chance for us to provide exciting football. There is no doubt they are the best!"

With this type of endorsement, not only is Morreale in a good place in coming home, he may bring something with him that would be a huge reward to those faithful fans. It's called the Grey Cup.