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B.C. Lions players line on on the line of scrimmage during practice at B.C. Place in Vancouver November 23, 2011. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and B.C. Lions will play in the Canadian Football League's 99th Grey Cup Sunday in Vancouver. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

Grey Cup festivities are all about characters. And Tyrone Polanski is a character.

Let's start with his last name. The 52-year-old Grey Cup volunteer claims filmmaker Roman Polanski is a third cousin. The two have spoken by phone, and exchanged letters, but haven't met, an enthusiastic Polanski (Tyrone) told me before Thursday night's CFL awards, where he was an event host.

This is Polanski's second go at the Grey Cup volunteer circuit. And in 1994- when the Lions played and won at home- he had cooler gig, helping guard the then 82-year-old Grey Cup trophy itself.

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At one point, the Cup was set up for pictures with fans, as well as a (presumably docile) cougar. "Some people were apprehensive about the cougar," Polanski recalls.

This is as good as time to note that Polanski is these days wearing a good-looking moustache not for Movember but in fact for a film role. He's a part-time actor and currently playing a cop - thus the stache- in an indie movie, Killers in the Forest, a weird-sounding slasher set in Vancouver's Stanley Park.

Back in '94, Polanski saw some action in the line of duty of Cup guarding. A drunkard, the story goes, had a hate-on for Wayne Gretzky, and couldn't abide by the Great One's name on the Grey Cup (from his ownership of the Argos). So the drunk ran at the Cup with the aim to erase 99's name by scratching it out with a dime. The plot was foiled.

This year, Polanski has a mellow gig. He is, however, hoping for a repeat of '94. That year, the Canucks went to the Stanley Cup, lost in seven, and there was a riot. The Lions made the Grey Cup at home, and won.

Polanski adds that he predicted six months before the Lions '94 win that not only would the team triumph but do so on the foot of kicker Lui Passaglia. Lui kicked the winner as time expired.

"I'm hoping," Polanski says, "history repeats itself."

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About the Author
National correspondent, Vancouver bureau

David Ebner is a national correspondent based in Vancouver. He joined The Globe and Mail in 2000 and worked in Toronto and Calgary before moving to Vancouver in 2008. He has reported on a wide range of stories – business, politics, arts, crime – and has covered sports since 2012. More

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