By Scott Taylor
He’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell personally thanked him for “saving” the Minnesota Vikings. His Viking World Order will occupy 110 seats every game for the next 30 years in Minnesota’s version of the Cleveland Browns’ “Dawg Pound,” at the new stadium in Minneapolis. A Hollywood producer is already filming a reality show based on the Viking World Order.
For a 56-year-old retired railway worker from Winnipeg now living in White Rock, B.C., being the Minnesota Vikings’ greatest fan has certainly provided some fun times.
“It’s kind of humbling having people all over Minnesota and the commissioner of the NFL thank you for saving the team,” he said from his home in Transcona this week. “We started the Viking World Order in 2007. I got the biggest Vikings fans I could find and invited them on board and met with everyone in Minnesota who might be influential enough to get the new stadium built. It took a lot of work, a lot of effort, but we got it done.
“When it was over, the Vikings and the NFL asked me what I wanted in return for the work that was done. I told them I wanted 110 tickets for the Viking World Order for every game played in the new stadium for the next 30 years. They were happy to do it. And they put us in the Ultimate Fan Section so we don’t even have to get up to buy a hot dog. We’ll be there at every game for the existence of the stadium.
“The Viking World Order is one of the NFL’s largest and most dedicated fan groups,” he explained. “The VWO has worked for years promoting the Minnesota Vikings, doing rallies and meet-and-greets around Minnesota and at the Minnesota State Capital to keep the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota. The VWO also works with children’s charities and cancer charities, The VWO works to make the community a better place, and our tailgate parties and team support are second to none.”
Syd Davy has been a Vikings fan for a long, long time. In fact, this will be his 30th year as the Norse King of the VWO. Or, as he calls himself, “100% Cheese-Free,” a shot at the hated Green Bay Packers.
Every weekend, since 1986, Syd and his wife Susan have driven to the Metrodome, and now TCF Bank Stadium, to watch his beloved Vikings play football. Now he’s White Rock and says it will be easier to get to Minneapolis. All he has to do is drive a couple of hours to Seattle, take a two-hour flight to the Twin Cities and he saves about 3 1/2 hours from his previous 7 1/2-hour drive from Winnipeg.
In 2006, the American newspaper USA Today, cobbled together a committee to find the NFL’s “Most Fanatical Fan.” To the surprise of not one person who knows him, the committee chose a Canadian railway worker who drives 1,600 kilometres every second week to watch his favourite team play. Since then, the NFL itself has honoured Davy on more than one occasion.
It might not be as important as the sporting contributions of Canada’s MVP athletes Justin Morneau, Steve Nash and Joe Thornton, but it’s a pretty cool position to hold nonetheless.
“I was pretty amazed when I got the call,” Davy said, still a little shaken by the honour. “USA Today (reporter Tom Pedulla) called me right after the Vikings-Lions game when Minnesota was on a bit of a roll. I didn’t quite understand at the time, but he was pretty clear: ‘We chose you as the most fanatical NFL fan.’
“I was just blown away by that.”
Syd Davy, railway worker, might have been blown away by the honour, but Cheese-Free, purple-faced Vikings nut, has no reason to be blown away by anything that adds to his celebrity.
Cheese-Free has been featured in Sports Illustrated and Maxim magazines, is a fixture in most Vikings publications (he was on the Vikings tickets in 2012) and you can’t miss him in Madden video games. He’s more recognizable than most of the players. When he walks down the stairs to his front-row seats, he receives a standing ovation. The other fans offer their hands, like they would to a rock star on the edge of his concert stage.
It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a formidable figure — 5-foot-11, 225 pounds of rock-hard muscle. A former personal trainer, he lifts weights six days a week, two hours a day in his well-equipped basement gymnasium. His biceps — covered in Vikings tattoos — are 19½ inches in circumference. In his Helga Hat and “Viking World Order” championship belt, he cuts an imposing figure.
“And it’s not like Susan and I just started doing this,” he said. “We went to our first Vikings game in 1986 and I created Cheese-Free in the late ’80s. We began by taking him out only for the Halloween games. Then in 1994, people in the Twin Cities never saw Syd Davy again. Only Cheese-Free.”
Cheese-Free earned his reputation by catching former Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss every time Moss scored a touchdown. Now he catches up-and-coming star Cordarrelle Patterson. Davy has missed only seven games in 29 seasons.
“The last one we missed was the day the Metrodome imploded,” he laughed. “I figure that it’s cost me about half a million dollars to do this. I don’t just go to all the Vikings games, but also all the Super Bowls and the time we spent getting the stadium built and all the other stuff we’ve done. But I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything.”
Don’t forget, you can join 100 Per Cent Cheese Free (OK, Syd Davy) and see the Vikings live this season!!!! Garry Shymko, the mastermind behind Shymer Tours has a tremendous schedule of 2015 Minnesota Vikings games lined up. Our tour schedule is all set up and you’re invited to head to TCF Bank Stadium with us this season.
This year, games start at $359 per tour and that includes a ticket to the Vikings game, your bus trip to the Twin Cities and two nights accommodations at the Holiday Inn Express in Bloomington, just an eight-minute walk from Mall of America. I’ll see you at TCF Bank Stadium for the Lions on Sept. 21.
Here are the tours:
Lions vs Vikings | Sept 19-21, 2015
Chargers vs Vikings | Sept 26-28, 2015
Packers vs Vikings | Nov 21-23, 2015
Seahawks vs Vikings | Dec 5-7, 2015
Bears vs Vikings | Dec 19-21, 2015
Take it from me, these trips are sensational. And don’t forget, we hold court at most of them on Saturday afternoon at the Buffalo Wild Wings at Mall of America while enjoying great food and watching the best NCAA football games from around the United States.
Here’s how you get on the bus:
1. A non-refundable $200.00 per person deposit is required at time of booking. The remaining balance is due 60 days prior to the scheduled event.
2. Payments may be made by Cash, Cheque, PayPal/Visa/Mastercard.
3. All payments are non-refundable.
4. U-Drive confirmations will be mailed upon receipt of deposit. Event tickets, maps and directions will be mailed upon receipt of final payment.
5. Bus Tour package confirmations will be mailed upon receipt of deposit. Event tickets, hotel accommodations, miscellaneous information will be mailed out approximately two weeks prior to the event.
Just go here: http://www.shymertours.ca to check out all the sensational tours this year. And don’t forget, the Vikings are waiting for you at TCF Bank Stadium.