When her fiancé died, one life-long Roughrider fan decided to spend their would-be wedding day at Mosaic Stadium, celebrating the love they shared for football, even though they cheered for rival teams.
When April Mallory met Matt Miller it was a match made for the CFL. She grew up loving the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and he loved the Calgary Stampeders.
The couple met in Regina when Miller was a DJ, but they didn’t start dating for about a year and a half.
“Once we started dating he used to always remind me that he won,” Mallory said, laughing.
Their love of football brought them together, even while they were wearing rival colours.
“The funny part is he would always cheer for the Roughriders if they weren’t playing Calgary. I could never ever cheer for the Stamps, that’s just against my football religion,” Mallory said.
They moved to Calgary six years ago and continued to go to football games, with her wearing green and him wearing red.
“It kind of became a big thing for us. We’d go to all the games here together, we’d dress up and we’d take funny pictures of us squaring off against each other and kind of be enemies for a few hours every time they were playing,” she said.
Miller proposed last September on a trip to Tofino, B.C. and they started planning their wedding. When the CFL schedule came out, the couple thought it was fitting their wedding day would land on a Riders vs. Stamps game in Regina.
“We were going to have some football cakes, one for the Stampeders and one for the Riders,” Mallory said. “I went out and bought a Rider garter set that I was going to surprise him with.”
But all those plans were cut short by tragedy when Miller died suddenly in his sleep in early spring.
“We had gone out with friends the night before then I woke up the next morning and he was gone,” Mallory said.
“It was a total shock. He was 32 years old and we’d been going to the gym for a while and eating good. So it was definitely a shock, nobody expected that.”
In the months that followed, Mallory decided she didn’t want to spend their wedding day alone. So she bought a dozen tickets to the Rider game in Regina. Then more wedding guests said they wanted to come along.
“Now there’s me and 49 of my friends and family going to this football game on Saturday,” she explained. “So I’m going to try to make it a fun weekend.”
But she also won’t be switching loyalties.
“I had a friend of mine ask if I’d be wearing a Stampeders jersey and I said, ‘no way.’ She said, ‘Well Matt would want you to,’” Mallory laughed. “Somebody else said, ‘No he wouldn’t. He would wonder what was wrong with (her) if she wore a Stampeders jersey.’”
She says he would want her to be surrounded by her friends and family, cheering for her favourite football team just like they would always do together.
“Absolutely, I know he’ll be watching too and cheering for the Stamps, that’s just the way it goes, but I’m hoping we can finally get our first win this season.”