That is why we have looked back at some legendary former teams and notable mention non-teams. As well as the careers of some of the greats. Including Barron Miles, Grover Covington, Michael “Pinball” Clemons, Warren Moon, Russ Jackson, Fritz Hanson and many more too.
So it was fascinating to come across mention of the CFL All-Star game. Something I knew little about. Time to learn and share!
The All-Star Game – a history
However there has been an All-Star game in the CFL’s history – the first being played in 1955 and the last in 1988.
You can find a clip of the last ever CFL All-Star game from 1988 online too.
The first game was in 1955 and came prior to the formation of the CFL and was known as the Shrine Game. Featuring WIFU and IRFU All-Stars playing to a 6-6 tie in front of 15,088 fans.
This triggered a run of games from 1956-8. Whilst there were over 13,000 hardly souls on hand for the 1956 game numbers dropped precipitously for the next two.
5,000 fans turned out in 1957 and 7,000 in 1958. The games were being played in December in a Canadian winter and didn’t count for a championship. So perhaps that affected attendances. At any rate the poor turn-outs saw the concept dropped and it did not return again in the 1960’s.
The All-Star Game was resurrected in 1970. This time the format had been tweaked however. Now an All-Star squad would take on the previous season’s Grey Cup champion.
The 1970 game saw the All-Stars defeat the Ottawa Rough Riders 35-14 in front of 23,090 fans in Ottawa.
These matches were held for five consecutive years from 1970-74. There was no game in 1975 however. I cannot find the reason why – anybody who knows do get in touch.
An All-Star game returned in 1976 and was played up until 1978. The returning game went back to its roots and the earlier history of the game as an East and West All-Star team faced off once more.
The last game played in the 70’s came in 1978. After that the event was a five yearly one. This meant it was played in 1983 and 1988 during this decade.
As ever with the history of this game things changed again. Because of this the 1983 game was an East v West affair whereas the 1988 game was between the CFL All-Stars and Edmonton Eskimos.
The 1988 game was to be the last CFL All-Star game played. The last game actually had its biggest attendance as 25,573 fans turned out in Edmonton to see the Esks fall 15-4 to the All-Star team.
Consigned to History
In fact the last All-Star game had been played in 1988 specifically because Edmonton were the league champs. At the time the Edmonton 1987 season ticket base of around 27,000 was the best in the league. Hence the league and Players Association decided to cash in.
By the end of 1988 money troubles were piling up around the CFL. Clubs did not have reserve funds and attendances did not look set to match rental and player costs. The focus was elsewhere.
Looking in a different direction
Even if the CFL had been interested in resurrecting the game on a 5 year cycle things had really moved on by 1993. Larry Smith had was leading the ill-fated American invasion. A moment in CFL history that has seen some of the bygone US teams achieve cult status – but not an environment conducive to the anachronistic ‘old time’ feel of the All-Star game.
So, the game was gone – history, and has never returned since.
|1955||December 3, 1955||Varsity Stadium Toronto||East All-Stars 6, West All-Stars 6 (tie)|
|1956||December 8, 1956||Empire Stadium Vancouver||West All-Stars 35, East All-Stars 0|
|1957||December 7, 1957||McGill Stadium Montreal||East All-Stars 20, West All-Stars 2|
|1958||December 6, 1958||Civic Stadium Hamilton||West All-Stars 9, East All-Stars 3|
|1970||July 2, 1970||Lansdowne Park Ottawa||CFL All-Stars 35, Ottawa Rough Riders 14|
|1971||June 29, 1971||Autostade Montreal||CFL All-Stars 30, Montreal Alouettes 13|
|1972||June 28, 1972||McMahon Stadium Calgary||Calgary Stampeders 23, CFL All-Stars 22|
|1973||June 27, 1973||Ivor Wynne Stadium Hamilton||CFL All-Stars 22, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 11|
|1974||June 26, 1974||Lansdowne Park Ottawa||Ottawa Rough Riders 25, CFL All-Stars 22|
|1976||May 29, 1976||Clarke Stadium Edmonton||West All-Stars 27, East All-Stars 16|
|1977||June 4, 1977||Exhibition Stadium Toronto||East All-Stars 20, West All-Stars 19|
|1978||June 3, 1978||McMahon Stadium Calgary||West All-Stars 24, East All-Stars 12|
|1983||December 3, 1983||BC Place Stadium Vancouver||West All-Stars 25, East All-Stars 15|
|1988||June 23, 1988||Commonwealth Stadium Edmonton||CFL All-Stars 15, Edmonton Eskimos 4|
Banner image from change.org