New York Giants fans are not so much coming out of the woodwork these days; they’ve been there all along, waiting patiently for another shot at the Lombardi Trophy.

And in the Northeast, perhaps in Maine particularly, there are plenty of them. Some are transplants from the New York/New Jersey area but many more are byproducts of the days when the Giants were featured every Sunday on regional telecasts.

Still, the region is ruled by the fans of Sunday’s opponent, the New England Patriots, making followers of Big Blue a tightly kit community.

“When you see someone with a Giants jacket or hat on you always stop to say hello,” Winthrop High School football coach Joel Stoneton said. “The greatest thing about being a Giants fan is everybody in the area is a Patriots fan. People don’t like you if you’re a Giants fan right now.”

The level of hatred — or dislike, if you will — hasn’t reached New York Jets proportions, but there’s plenty of residual animosity left over from the Giants’ comeback win over the Pats in the Super Bowl four years ago. The one, which Pats fans have been reminded every day for the past two weeks, that ruined their perfect season.

Stoneton calls himself a lifelong Giants fan, a tradition he inherited from his dad. Others, like University of Maine at Augusta men’s basketball coach Jim Ford, had no choice.

“I’ve been a Giants fan since I opened my eyes,” Ford said. “I grew up near Exit 13 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, two exits away from the Meadowlands.”

Ford points out that the Giants played in Yankee Stadium in those days but the sentiment remains unshakable.

“We were religious Giants/Yankees fans,” he said. “You can’t take the roots out of your loyalties. It’s just in my blood.”

The blood bond, however, doesn’t extend to Ford’s three sons, all of whom will be rooting for the Patriots to demolish his beloved “Gints.”

“I tried to convince them,” Ford said. “They’re all Patriots fans. It’s not easy being in the room (watching the game).”

Frank Loiko, an Augusta native who lives in Belgrade and is wintering in Florida, has followed the Giants since the mid-1950s.

“That was all you saw on TV,” Loiko said.

Like Stoneton, he’s a fan of coach Tom Coughlin, but it depends on the status of the team.

“I was ready to fire him when he had that losing streak,” Loiko said. “Then he turned the team around. I think he’s smarter than he’s given credit for.”

Loiko likes some of the Giants from the late ’50s and early ’60s as well as some he’s had the good fortune to meet.

“I met Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor when I was in the sporting goods business,” he said. “I love them to death. They’re great guys.”

Loiko and his wife Jill will watch the game at a friend’s house in Fort Myers, Fla. Loiko said they’re “New England people” and doesn’t expect anything different than the last time he watched when the teams met in the Super Bowl.

“The last time I watched it there were 25 Patriots fans and my wife and I,” he said.

As Loiko did, Speaker of the House Bob Nutting (R-Oakland) grew up watching the Giants on TV.

“We’re a brave group,” Nutting said. “As a young boy growing up in Skowhegan there were no Patriots. I became a big Giants fan in 1958 when they lost to the Baltimore Colts.”

Nutting’s favorite Giant in those days was offensive linemen and future Hall of Famer Roosevelt Brown, who also played defense in goal-line situations.

“I have his picture on my wall,” Nutting said. “He’s my favorite player of all time.”

Like many Giants fans in Maine, Nutting’s three other favorite professional teams are the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins.

“I have never changed my allegiance,” he said.

RuthAnn Votra’s husband was born in New York, making her a Giants fan by extension. But like many fans of the team, she lists the Patriots as her second choice.

“I have a ton of friends who are Patriots fans,” said Votra, who lives in Gardiner. “You get on Facebook back and forth. It’s all in good fun.”

Votra lists Hakeem Nicks as her favorite player on the team but her 12-year-old son Ethan loves Brandon Jacobs. Ethan, like Jacobs, is a running back and a big one, standing 5 feet, 8 inches and weighing 190 pounds. No wonder he likes the 265-pound Jacobs.

“I like his running style,” Ethan said. “Just running people over.”

Reflecting his age, Ford was a big fan of running back Joe Morrison who lugged the ball in the 1960s and early ’70s. Stoneton liked tight end Mark Bavaro and nose guard Jim Burt, stars in the late ’80s. He’s also a fan of Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

“I love Tom Coughlin,” Stoneton said. “He’s old school.”

So who’s going to win?

“This is going to be one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever because of what happened four years ago,” Ford said. “It’s going to come down to whichever quarterback has the best game. Playing inside, I would think it’s going to be a shootout, 35-24 (Giants).”

Stoneton likes the Giants 27-20.

“There’s no pressure on us,” he said. “Everybody expects the Patriots to win, at least in this area. The secondary is the weakness for the Patriots.”

RuthAnn and Ethan Votra each like the Giants “by at least three.”

“It’s going to be a shootout,” Ethan said.

Nutting likes the Giants 27-20, because they have a stronger defense while Loiko thinks his team can win big if everything falls into place.

“If the Giants play their football and Eli doesn’t have a brain cramp, I think they can win by two touchdowns,” he said.

Of course, there’s always the disclaimer.

“But you can’t count (Tom) Brady and (Bill) Belichick out,” he added.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]


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