The Grey Cup Dynasties

The Grey Cup Dynasties
Reading Time: 7 minutes.

Who are the Grey Cup Dynasties? The teams that got their hands on the famous old trophy and held on to it once they had it?

A recent CFL article by Ed Tait passingly mentioned that in terms of recent Dynasties at least, “It’s difficult enough in the CFL to repeat as Grey Cup champions – only the 1996-97 Toronto Argonauts and 2009-10 Montreal Alouettes have been able to do so since the end of Edmonton’s run of five straight titles in 1982.”.

Which got me to thinking about who has held the Grey Cup for consecutive years throughout the history of the trophy. It’s the antithesis of a recent look at title droughts too. So it will be nice to look at some success stories.

Let’s take a look. But to do so we will need to split this into two eras. You might think the pre CFL era from 1909-57, and the post CFL era from 1958 to present day would be the most natural split.

However, whilst the CFL may have had responsibility for the Grey Cup since 1958, we should note that Wikipedia suggests that “1954 is reckoned as the start of the modern era of Canadian football, in which the Grey Cup has been exclusively contested by professional teams”.

So because of this pre and post professional split that is how I intend to split the Grey Cup Dynasites. We will look at the pre-professional era 1909-1953. And the fully professional era 1954-present day.

Pre-Modern Dynasties 1909-1953

Starting right at the start of Grey Cup history comes our first Dynasty. The University of Toronto Varsity Blues won the first three Grey Cup games.

University of Toronto Varsity Blues 1909-11

3 consecutive victories.

Points for 56. Points against 20. Average winning margin: 19-7 (allowing for rounding).

17-1 over 3 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 13,687

Largest margin of victory 26-6 in the 1st Grey Cup.

Toronto Varsity would not return to the Grey Cup game until 1914 after their third straight win. But, they kept the trophy for the next three years. They believed they could rightfully hold on to it until another team defeated them in the championship game.

Queens University 1922-24

3 consecutive victories.

Points for 78. Points against 3. Average winning margin: 26-1

11-1 over 3 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 8,629

Largest margin of victory 54-0 in the 11th Grey Cup.

The Second of the Dynasties on our list also had a ‘three-peat’ as Grey Cup Champions. Queens University also followed in Varsity’s footsteps by beating three different teams in a row.

You can read a little more about the first of Queens’ wins here on Pigskin Dispatch.

Ottawa Senators 1925-6

2 consecutive victories.

Points for 34. Points against 8. Average winning margin: 17-4

9-2-1 over 2 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 8,276

Largest margin of victory 24-1 in the 13th Grey Cup

In 1925, Ottawa defeated three-time defending champion Queen’s in the Eastern semi-final. This meant one Dynasty would replace another. The Senators can be seen as part of the early history of the Ottawa Rough Riders.

Hamilton Tigers 1928-9

The 1928 Hamilton Tigers. Image from CFL.ca

2 consecutive victories.

Points for 44. Points against 2. Average winning margin: 22-2 (allowing for rounding).

11-1 over 2 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 4,767

Largest margin of victory 30-0 in the 16th Grey Cup

The league recognises 8 Grey Cup wins for Hamilton since the merger of the Hamilton Tigers and Hamilton Wildcats. Hamilton themselves however say they recognise “all 15 Grey Cups won by Hamilton-based teams as part of its history since each franchise is connected to the current Tiger-Cats club”.

Toronto Argonauts 1937-8

2 consecutive victories.

Points for 34. Points against 10. Average winning margin: 17-5

10-2 over 2 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 18,778

Largest margin of victory 30-7 in the 26th Grey Cup

Not only was this a Dynasty for the Boatmen. It was also a back to back match up as both Grey Cups games were contested by the Argos and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Both teams had been evenly matched. The Argos won in 1937 4-3. And in 1938 it was 7-6 to Winnipeg in the final quarter. 20-year old Red Storey came off the bench and scored three touchdowns in just 12 minutes of action, and set up another to hand the Argos the win.

Toronto Argonauts 1945-47

3 consecutive victories.

Points for 73. Points against 15. Average winning margin: 24-5 (allowing for rounding).

19-8-3 over 3 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 18,960

Largest margin of victory 35-0 in the 33rd Grey Cup

The next of our Dynasties matched the last. Once again it was an Argonauts Dynasty. And once again they beat Winnipeg in each Grey Cup game. Joe Krol and Royal Copeland, known as the “Gold Dust Twins” led the Argos to 35-0, 28-6 and 10-9 wins.

Post-Modern Dynasties 1954-today

Edmonton Eskimos 1954-56

3 consecutive victories.

Points for 110. Points against 71. Average winning margin: 37-24 (allowing for rounding).

36-12 over 3 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 39,417

Largest margin of victory 50-27 in the 44th Grey Cup

All three of Edmonton’s wins setting up their first Grey Cup Dynasty would come against the Montreal Alouettes.

Edmonton had a dominant team in the early 1950’s. They were not far removed from a 4-10 inaugural season (1949). But Edmonton would go an impressive 71-24-1 run between 1952 and 1957. That would include 4 Grey Cup appearances (they were runners up in 1952 as well as recording these wins).

Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1958-59

2 consecutive victories.

Points for 56. Points against 35. Average winning margin: 28-18 (allowing for rounding).

25-7 over 2 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 34,426

Largest margin of victory 21-7 in the 47th Grey Cup

From 1957 to 1962 the Blue Bombers were on a tear in the CFL. Led by Head Coach Bud Grant they recorded a 75-21 regular season run. Which translated into 5 Grey Cup appearances (they were runners up in 1957) and four wins.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1961-2

2 consecutive victories.

Points for 56. Points against 35. Average winning margin: 28-18 (allowing for rounding).

24-8 over 2 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 36,592

Largest margin of victory 21-13 in the 49th Grey Cup

If it hadn’t been for a 14-2 1960 Blue Bombers team losing a 3 game Western Semi-Final to Edmonton they could have appeared in 5 straight Grey Cups. As it was, after missing out in 1960, they were back to claim the title in 1961.

So this team made four winning Grey Cup appearances in five years. On every occasion they were squared off with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In fact they made 5 finals in 6 years, and every time faced Hamilton.

Ottawa Rough Riders 1968-9

2 consecutive victories.

Points for 53. Points against 32. Average winning margin: 27-16 (allowing for rounding).

20-6-2 over 2 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 33,185

Largest margin of victory 29-11 in the 57th Grey Cup

Led by Russ Jackson, the Rough Riders were riding high in the CFL. They turned a 40-13-3 run into three Grey Cup appearances (they lost out in 1966 as Saskatcewan took home their first Grey Cup win in a ‘Rider Bowl’).

Edmonton Eskimos 1978-82

5 consecutive victories.

Points for 143. Points against 71. Average winning margin: 29-14 (allowing for rounding).

60-15-5 over 5 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 65,113

Largest margin of victory 48-10 in the 68th Grey Cup

When talking about Grey Cup Dynasties this is the big one. Five consecutive Grey Cup wins is an incredible feat.

The 1970’s had been a good time to be a football fan in Edmonton. During the decade, the then named Esks had gone 97-55-8. That had led to six Grey Cup appearances and three wins. That success overlapped into the Early 1980’s with two more titles in an unprecedented run of five.

They would go on to appear in the CFL post season every year until 2005. That run would see another 8 Grey Cup appearances, and four further title wins.

But the biggest run of success was from 1977-1982. The team would be dominant going 70-22-5 and converting that into six straight Grey Cup appearances (they lost in 1977) and five straight wins. It is hard to imagine any team matching this in today’s CFL.

Toronto Argonauts 1996-97

They 1997 Argos celebrate. Image from Argonauts.ca

2 consecutive victories.

Points for 90. Points against 60. Average winning margin: 45-30

30-6 over 2 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 60,431

Largest margin of victory 47-23 in the 85th Grey Cup

The 1996-97 Argos had back to back 15-3 seasons led by legendary QB Doug Flutie. A CFL star so transcendent that in 2006 he was voted the best CFL player of all time.

Arguably the greatest Heisman winner to play in the CFL led a 15-3 team into a snowstorm against Edmonton in the Grey Cup in 1996 and a controversial decision on a potential fumble helped them on the way to a win.

The 1997 team also went 15-3 and went from 3-0 down against Saskatchewan to a 41-9 lead on their way to a comfortable 47-23 win.

Montreal Alouettes 2009-10

2 consecutive victories.

Points for 49. Points against 45. Average winning margin: 25-23 (allowing for rounding).

27-9 over 2 seasons.

Largest Grey Cup Crowd: 63,317

Largest margin of victory 21-18 in the 98th Grey Cup

The Montreal Alouettes had returned to the league in 1996. Since then they had been the dominant team in the East. They had one losing season, and won the East Division nine times in that span.

But up until this Dynasty they had 1 Grey Cup win (2002), and 5 defeats (2003, 2005-6, and 2008) to their name. This, the last of our Dynasties, saw Als fans enjoying their team put together a 38-16 run with three Grey Cup appearances and 2 wins.

Both Grey Cup games were agains the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The title the fifteen win Als had taken in 2009 has gone down in Grey Cup folklore. The ‘thirteenth man‘ game was a heartbreaking loss for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The 2010 game was the las time we saw a Dynasty in the CFL.

Will we see more Grey Cup Dynasties?

Since Montreal had the last Grey Cup Dynasty, seven different teams have lifted the trophy. Only Calgary and Toronto have managed it twice in that span but never consecutively. Montreal and Hamilton have been the only teams to miss out.

So who will be the next of the great Grey Cup Dynasties? And when will it happen?

As ever, we don’t yet know but we’re bound to have lots of fun along the way finding out.

Banner image: Media guides for Edmonton’s 4th and 5th consecutive Grey Cup wins in 1981 & 1982. The longest run for any of the Dynasties. Image from worthpoint.com

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