THE GREY CUP

Lord Albert Henry George Grey

 

The Grey Cup with its original base.

 

The Grey Cup on its second base (1950-1986).

 

The Grey Cup as it looks today (since 1987).

 

The Grey Cup trophy, a symbol of Canadian football supremacy, was originally an amateur award, destined to be presented to the senior hockey champions of Canada.  However, after Sir H. Montague Allan offered the Allan Cup for hockey competition, Lord Albert Henry George Grey, the fourth Earl and Governor General of Canada, donated the Grey Cup in 1909.  It was destined to be awarded to the team winning the Senior Amateur Football Championship of Canada.

The first Grey Cup game pitted the University of Toronto against Parkdale at Varsity Stadium in Toronto in front of 3,807 football fans in 1909.  The Grey Cup was presented, albeit three months later - he'd forgotten to have the cup made, but did so after a gentle reminder by the cup trustees - by his excellency Lord Grey to the team representing the University of Toronto, who won the game by a score of 26-6.  The U of T team would go on to win the Cup the next two years and again in 1920, following a three-year hiatus as a result of the First World War.

The Grey Cup Game would again be affected by world unrest in 1940, as it took two games over two weekends, held on November 30 in Toronto and December 7 in Ottawa, to crown the team from Ottawa the Grey Cup Champions.

As some amateur football organizations became more professional, the Intercollegiate Union felt that it was at a disadvantage and ceased to challenge for the Cup.  In both the West and the East, the Inter-provincial Football Unions became the strongest organized football associations, and eventually evolved into the Western and Eastern divisions of the Canadian Football League.  Since 1954, only teams in the CFL have competed for the trophy.

Over the years, many stories both famous and infamous have become associated with the cup:

In 1950, the infamous "Mud Bowl" game between Toronto and Winnipeg took place at Toronto's Varsity Stadium.  The CRU, fore-runner to the CFL, could have bought a tarp for $6,000, but decided to gamble.  The result: the night before the game, eight inches of snow fell on the unprotected field.  To further complicate things, the temperature began to rise before game time, completely thawing the field.  A huge tractored vehicle was brought in to haul a mud-mired snow-removal truck off the the field, creating deep ruts of oozing swamp.  By ten o'clock the morning of the game, the field resembled, as Jack Sullivan put it, "...the site of a plowing match."  The mire all but obliterated the numbers on the players' jerseys.  At one point in the game, Winnipeg's Buddy Tinsley was spotted face-down in the muck, apparently unconscious, and had to be 'rescued' from drowning by the late Hec Creighton.  In actual fact, Tinsley was, by his own admission, "...in full command of my senses and was by no means drowning."  Makes for a great story though, one which has become legendary in the annals of Grey Cup lore.

In 1962, in the infamous "Fog Bowl", Winnipeg needed two days to defeat Hamilton, as the game was halted by fog and the remaining 9:29 played the next day in Toronto.

1965 saw the less famous, but equally infamous "Wind Bowl", when gusts of up to 50 miles an hour coming off Lake Ontario blasted Exhibition Stadium, and Winnipeg coach Bud Grant opted to concede three Safety Touches over the course of the game, rather than attempt to kick into the gale.  The margin of victory for the Ti-Cats was those six points.

The 1975 contest in Calgary witnessed a female streaker during the national anthem -- in minus 30 degree temperatures!

In 1977 the first Grey Cup played at Montreal's Olympic Stadium saw what has come to be known as the "Ice Bowl", or "Staplegate".  This was back in the days before "the Big Owe" had a roof -- and long before parts of it caved in, but that's another story -- and heavy snow had fallen on the field the week leading up to the game.  Officials had tried a chemical on the turf to melt the snow, and it worked like a charm.  Only problem was, the water from the melted snow froze into an impenitrable hunk of solid glare ice!  The Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers would've felt more at home, but it was the Alouettes and Eskimos.  Montreal players fired staples into their cleats, and totally routed the Eskimos 41-6.

In 1994 the first American team played for the cup, but BC's Lui Passaglia booted the game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock.  But Baltimore would roar back the next year to take "Earl" south of the border for a brief visit.

Unlike the NFL's Vince Lombardi trophy, the Grey Cup has survived the test of time, passed annually to new champions, while celebrating former legends by listing each winning player on its third (and present) base, which was added to the original trophy in 1987.  Along the way there have been heroes and goats, of course.  Names like Jackson, Sunter, Gabriel, Passaglia and Flutie conjure up images of past triumphs.  And on the other side, Mosca's "late" hit on BC's Willie Fleming in the '64 game is rivalled only by the ferocity with which Ottawa's Wayne Smith and Jerry "Soupy" Campbell delivered the hellacious hits that broke three of Eskimo QB Tom Wilkinson's ribs in the 1973 game.

It has been stolen, broken, sat on, and held for ransom.  It was nearly destroyed by fire in 1949, but snagged on a nail where it clung to live on to become arguably the most storied chalice in the annals of North American Professional sport.  It conjures up memories of legendary rivalries -- the Eskimos of the fifties, led by Parker, Kwong and Bright versus the Alouettes, led by Etcheverry, Patterson and Hunsinger; Kenny Ploen's Blue Bombers versus Bernie Faloney and the Ti-Cats in the late 50's and early 60's; the Ray Jauch/Hugh Campbell vs. Marv Levy coaching duels of the seventies.  It brings players and fans alike to the brink of total euphoria and heart-rending anguish.  I still recall the first time "my" team lost the Grey Cup: I was 13 and convinced there would be no sunrise the next day.

Since its inception, a team from Toronto has won it on 21 occasions, while Hamilton teams have won it 15 times.  Edmonton has taken it home 13 times, including a record five consecutive times from 1978 through 1982.  Winnipeg teams have won the trophy 10 times, Ottawa nine, and Montreal seven.  The Calgary Stampeders and B.C. Lions have won it on six occasions each.  The Saskatchewan Roughriders have won the cup on three occasions.  The Baltimore Stallions were the first and only U.S.-based team to win the Grey Cup.  One player on that team -- O.J. Brigance -- went on to win the Super Bowl in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens, becoming the only player to win both a Grey Cup and a Super Bowl with teams from the same city, a feat likely to never be repeated!

 

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Click for All-Time Grey Cup results

 Results: 1909 to Present

Grey Cup Numbers...

 The Numbers

Grey Cup MVP's

 Grey Cup MVP's

Team vs. Team, Head-to-Head

Head-to-Head

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