The CFL season is in full swing and before we know it the playoffs, and ultimately the Grey Cup will be upon us.
In the run up to that game in November I thought it might be interesting to do a series on the decade anniversaries of the big game. Staring with 100 years ago, then 90, 80 and so on.
Following on from our previous looks at the 1919 Championship as well as the 1929 Grey Cup , 1939 edition & the 1949 edition of the game it is time to move onto the 1959 game.
The 1959 game saw 33,133 fans on hand to see the 12-4 Winnipeg Blue Bombers triumph over the 10-4 Hamilton Tiger-Cats by 21 points to 7.
The run up to the game
This is the first time in looking back at the Grey Cup game we have looked at an actual CFL championship. The others were the culmination of inter-provincial tournaments.
Just one year earlier Winnipeg had defeated Hamilton in a close and exciting game. That match-up, the 46th Grey Cup was officially the first CFL championship. Which is why we recently saw the league’s sixtieth anniversary.
Now following that we had a rematch for the title in the second season of Canadian Football League play. In fact it could be seen as the decider of a trifecta of games as Hamilton had defeated Winnipeg in 1957 in what was the last official pre-CFL final.
Grey Cup Playoffs
The playoffs had seen Winnipeg win a best of 3 Western Final Series against Edmonton by 2 games to nil. A 19-11 away win and 16-8 home win combined to comfortably put Winnipeg into the title game.
Over in the East rather than a best of 3 they played a 2 game series with the total points score deciding who would contest the Grey Cup.
Hamilton were in the final thanks to overcoming a 17-5 defeat in Ottawa to the Rough Riders and winning 21-7 at home to go through by a composite score of 26-24.
The Grey Cup Game
On November 28th at Toronto’s CNE stadium, the Blue Bombers mastered their 5th Grey Cup in the 47th edition of the game itself.
It was an inauspicious start for the new stadium as although the field had been covered with a tarpaulin the night before the game, it did little to protect it. in fact you can see something of the sate of the field in this wonderfully evocative film of the action.
Anyone hoping for a repeat of the exciting, high scoring contest of a year earlier was in for a disappointment.
It was 3-1 Winnipeg at the half as the Blue Bombers put a up a first quarter field goal and the Ticats responded with a second quarter rouge.
Hamilton took the lead going into the final quarter as they traded 2 field goals to a single from Winnipeg to go ahead 7-4 in the third.
All the scoring came from the Blue Bombers in the final quarter. A fumble recovery led to points as the O converted the turnover into a touchdown. Then with the wind behind them they hit 3 singles to lead 14-7.
Hamilton gambled on third down at their own 33 but were unable to convert. Hall of Fame QB Ken Ploen made them pay by hitting newly inducted hall of fame receiver Ernie Pitts for a 33 yard touchdown.
That was that and Winnipeg took home the trophy as well as going up 2-1 in their 3 series run with Hamilton.
What Came Next
Over the next 6 seasons the Blue Bombers and the Ticats would meet up in another 3 Grey Cups. Winnipeg would win in 1961 and 1962 whilst Hamilton would win in 1965.
Hamilton were a force in the East at this time. They made the Grey Cup 8 times in 9 years including in 1963 and 1964 when they split a win each with the BC Lions.
The Ticats would win the Grey Cup again in 1967, but Winnipeg’s defeat in 1965 was to be their last appearance in the title game until the 1980’s.
The shift in fortunes for Winnipeg coincided with the loss of their great coach Bud Grant who had coached the Bombers from 1957 until 1966 and under his guidance, led them to six Grey Cup appearances, winning four times.
Banner image: The Grey Cup of the day. Image from nationalpost.com