The Case For The Defense (CFL): Norm Fieldgate

The Case For The Defense (CFL): Norm Fieldgate
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The Case for the Defense: Norm Fieldgate.

CFL Free agency has been busy again this year. Arguably the biggest signing has been the Winnipeg Blue Bombers retaining Outstanding defensive player of the year Willie Jefferson.

All of which got me to thinking. We have run a series on all time great CFL special teams players in the past. So now I think in honour of Willie Jefferson being perhaps the biggest name this time around, we should focus on some defensive greats.

So it is time to redress the balance a little. The series itself so far has featured Willie PlessAngelo Mosca, and Dickie Harris. Now it is time to look at another great defensive player from the CFL annals. This time it’s BC Lions great LB Norm Fieldgate.

Norm Fieldgate: An original Lion

Fieldgate was recruited to the original BC Lions squad in 1954. With the Leos he played 223 games at Offensive End, Defensive End, Corner Linebacker, and Defensive Back. That meant he was part of their first Grey Cup appearance in 1963, and their first championship team in 1964.

The first player the Lions signed, Norm was co-captain of the BC Lions for many years. A regular favourite with the fans he was awarded the Bobby Bourne Trophy as the Lions’ “Most Popular Player”.

He was considered one of the best Canadian linebackers of his time. You can see the stead he his held in by the fact that the west Division’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player receives the Norm Fieldgate Trophy.

Just to add to the list of original moments, Fieldgate was one of the founding members of the Canadian Football League Players Association.

A mouse that roared

The 6’2″ Fieldgate was known by the somewhat surprising nickname ‘Mouse’. “When I was a kid in Regina I was just a little guy, and they called me Mouse” he explained in 2015.

The Mouse roared for the Lions. His career finished with 62 turnovers, 37 interceptions, two of them returned for touchdowns and 25 fumble recoveries. (No stats were kept for tackles or sacks.) A specialist at blocking kicks, he got hold of 6 in his career and recovered a pair of them for touchdowns.

A colourful trio

Fieldgate was part of a colourful on-field trio for the early years BC Lions. Fans got behind the team, and especially ‘the Mouse’, ‘the Wisp’ and ‘the Rock of Gibraltar’.

The Wisp was running back Willie Fleming, and the Rock was lineman Tom Brown. All three were key players for the BC Lions in the Sixties and are fondly remembered for their contributions.

The trio were part of the Lions first rise to a national championship, and in 1964, were part of a group of players presented with a replica of the Grey Cup approximately 18 inches high.

The Awards

Norm Fieldgate was named a CFL All-Star only once in 1963, and was named CFL West All-Star 3 times – in 1959, 1960 & 1963.

Fieldgate was also nominated six times as the BC Lions Outstanding Canadian (1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1965).

Fieldgate’s #75 jersey is one of  10 jerseys retired by the BC Lions. He is a member of the Lions Ring of Honour, and a member of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

In 2003, Fieldgate was voted a member of the BC Lions All-Time Dream Team, at the linebacker position, as part of the club’s 50 year anniversary celebration.

He was also selected one of the best 50 CFL players of All-Time in 2006.

After he retired from the field of play, Fieldgate went into business, and also served on the board of directors for the Lions in the 1980’s.

Featured Image: Norm Fieldgate reflects on a great career. Image from Vancouvercourier.com

He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

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