Grey Cup this weekend

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If Lord Stanley of Preston donated a silver mug way back when for a hockey championship, then it would make perfect sense that the Governor General of the day, Albert Henry George 4th Earl Grey, donated something along the same lines for football.

Originally awarded to the non professional Rugby Football champions, the Grey Cup had been intended as the prize for the winners of Canadian Senior hockey. The Allen Cup got that nod. Still the Grey Cup has stood the test of time and continues to be one of the most recognizable awards in sporting history.

The donated Cup cost a whopping $48 to produce back in 1909 and for the first dozen years until 1921 only teams from Ontario and Quebec were eligible to compete for it.

Often teams would be prepared to play the Grey Cup game, however since most of the eligible teams were schools and exams were usually scheduled around the time the game was to be played, competing schools opted out of playing deeming studies more important.

In 1924 the Winnipeg Victorias made history when they became the first team to come from western Canada and challenge for the trophy. It was not to be, as of all things, a dispute over how to get to the game between owners and players took so long the Victorias simply forfeited the chance.

By the late 1930's the trophy was the major prize for the Canadian Football teams. At the outset of World War II the Cup was awarded to the Ottawa Rough Riders after two games played a week apart. The Rough Riders won the two game total point Grey Cup 20-7.

During the war years of 1941-44, the armed forces teams vied for the title and Earl Grey’s trophy. The first of the true CFL games was played in 1945 between the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

In fact the two teams would play for the cup four times in the first six years after the war with Toronto winning all four games. The Argos would play a different opponent in 1952 in the Edmonton Eskimos and win again. Their 5-0 record would have to be one that was to be savoured as they did not return to the game until 1971 when Leon McQuay fumbled inside the five yard line late in the game preserving a Calgary win.

The Argos would then have to wait another 12 years until they won the Cup for the sixth time in 1983. The Eskimos are clearly the most successful Grey Cup team winning 13 times in 22 chances since 1952. Eleven of those games have been against the Montreal Alouettes who have a total of eight wins in Grey Cup games. This year’s game will feature the Bombers and Lions for only the second time ever. The first game was in 1988 and was played in Ottawa.

Winnipeg won the game, a thriller 22-21. The Bombers would crush Edmonton

50-11 two years later, have been back four times since but have not won the game since the 1990 win. BC has been back to the game four times since 1988 and is three and one last winning in 2006 when they beat Montreal.

I went to one Grey Cup game in 1973. I recall Pierre Elliot Trudeau performed the opening kick-off. The CN Tower was a half completed cement spear in the Toronto sky line and the Ottawa Rough Riders capital punishment defence and some timely offence beat Edmonton 22-18.

Make this Sundays game a close fought BC Victory.

Organizations: Canadian Senior, Canadian Football, Toronto Argonauts Montreal Alouettes

Geographic location: Ontario, Quebec, Toronto Edmonton Canada Calgary Ottawa Winnipeg Montreal

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