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 that game. Staring with 100 years ago, then 90, 80 and so on.
The run up to the game
Winnipeg were a dominant team in the West at this time. As the Winnipeg Pegs they had become the first Western team to win the Grey Cup in 1935.
However going into this one they had a point to prove. This was Winnipeg’s third final in a row but they had been upended by Toronto in the previous two games.
Now they would face the Ottawa Rough Riders in front of a home crowd at Lansdowne Park. Ottawa would go into the game as slight favourites.
Grey Cup Playoffs
The playoff bracket for this one saw the Rough Riders come past the Argonauts from the IRFU and the Sarnia Imperials of the ORFU.
Meanwhile Winnipeg had enjoyed a bye before defeating the Calgary Bronks in an all WIFU tournament to reach the championship game.
The Grey Cup Game
On December the 9th 1939, Winnipeg took their 2nd Grey Cup in five years in the 27th edition of the game itself.
The game itself was played on a snow-covered field with temperatures around minus-5 degrees Celsius.
Ottawa, was heavily favoured going into the game having out-scored their opposition 207-51 in 12 games prior to the Grey Cup.
That favourite status probably also referred to a rules difference disadvantage in play. At this time Western rules allowed linemen to block 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. The East played under a three-yard rule. The final was played under the Eastern rules.
This was only the second Grey Cup game played in the nation’s capital. Winnipeg took it with a last-second rouge as Art Stevenson kicked the winning point.
One of the starts of the game was Melvin “Fritz” Hanson. Hanson had 126 yards rushing and was excellent returning punts.
The latter was of little surprise because Hansen was great returner. He would collect 3 titles with Winnipeg in 1935, 1939 & 1941. He also won in 1948 with Calgary.
What Came Next
Winnipeg were unable to defend their title. Not because they weren’t good enough, but because the Canadian Rugby Union wouldn’t let them! The specter of a rules dispute had reared its head once more.
The Rough Riders were able to claim the Grey Cup in 1940 by default after defeating the Toronto Balmy Beach Beachers in the Eastern Final.
Both teams would return to the Grey Cup in 1941. Once again Winnipeg prevailed. This time by a score of 18-16.
Three seasons were lost to the Second World War between 1942 and 1944. In the post war boom period the Blue Bombers would appear in 5 Grey Cups over nine years and lose them all.
Banner image: The Grey Cup of the day. Image from nationalpost.com